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07 June 2022

Teacher Tuesday: Adrian

Teacher Tuesday: Adrian

Have you ever heard of the saying “You never stop learning”? Or the phrase “lifelong learning”? They both refer to the fact that everyone's journey through life includes an aspect of learning or self improvement; and as such, teachers keep learning too. But how?

Around this topic, and many other interesting ones, focused our conversation with Adrian.

In fact, our Head of Mathematics is not only a passionate teacher, but also someone hugely invested in the staff's professional development, and even a podcaster. Our interview with Adrian was probably one of the most varied so far! 

As for his introduction: Adrian joined Ealing Independent College 5 years ago, and since then has covered many different roles, growing professionally within the College: he has supported the students’ UCAS applications, acted as a link with the Science Department, became Head of Maths, and more recently he acquired the responsibilities of Welfare and Teacher Development/CDP. 

In his role as Maths teacher, Adrian’s major aim is to make mathematics accessible to all, and especially enjoyable to students of all levels. This manifests often in the creation of Kahoot games (online interactive quizzes), maths competitions and other games. 

Adrian often creates all the lessons’ materials himself, but it is always extremely rewarding to see how engaged students are. 

Thanks to the structure and nature of his lessons, Adrian enjoys teaching all year groups without any preference, and expresses how much he love his job: 

“I come to the College every single day and enjoy what I do. There is not really any day I am not looking forward to it!”

After 6 years at a Large State School, Adrian appreciates how his teaching style radically changed at EIC; he explains that the focus of his maths classes can now lie entirely on the learning, rather than managing behavioural issues, as it happened in other schools. And, of course, this allows the relationship between students and teacher to become strong much earlier on during the year. .

Besides his teaching role, Adrian is responsible for the staff’s continuing professional development. When beginning the conversation about this aspect of his job, we noticed how Adrian’s strong passion for the Science and Researches behind teaching styles comes through. 

He starts by reminding us that:

“The most effective way to improve the progress of pupils is by investing in the development of teachers.” (Daniel Willingham)

Adrian is a passionate advocate of every School or College dedicating time to teacher’s development. 

He starts by explaining that every teacher should base their everyday job on two principals: Reason and Impact. If every teacher knows exactly “Why” they are doing their job and what impact they want to make on the students, they will successfully support the students’ learning process. Keeping the Purpose in mind is key, but “how” to make that impact might change over time and might require teachers to always “learn” themselves.

And how does this translate into Adrian’s role of guiding staff to keep “learning teaching”?

Teacher’s Self-Observation is one technique: using an in classroom “Swivl Camera”, lessons are recorded and reviewed by the same teacher and their teaching coach.  Each teacher sets their own improvement plan and works towards their goals alongside their coach. This modern approach to observation allows the teacher to run the class normally without the disruption of an observer to the class as a whole. 

Adrian believes that having someone “sitting at the back of the class” observing the lesson does not produce feedback that is as effective as the feedback we give ourselves, as we are the strictest judges of ourselves. Teachers are put in front of the reality of their own teaching, rather than their perspective of it. 

Another technique that gives EIC teachers a chance to improve consists of CPD sessions where some teachers share their experience and/or their journey. Adrian explains that teachers find listening to other teachers the “most nurturing way” of getting new ideas they could apply to their own teaching style. 

Adrian agrees EIC’s own average for teaching quality is high, but that there’s always room for improvement. He is aware that it will always be a challenge to push staff to “move away from the average, even when the average is high”. It requires their constant commitment, and especially their time. Whilst changes can be difficult, it’s by overcoming those challenges that progress happens. CPD sessions and other professional development techniques allow the staff at EIC to raise the bar even further, to the benefit of both staff and students alike. 

Adrian’s passion for learning and teaching also has another channel to shine through: a podcast. Adrian is the host of “The 5-minute T&L Podcast”. “T&L”, which stands for Teaching and Learning, is the main focus, and each episode brings a different aspect of it: from the necessary amount of sleep to maximise learning, to the impact of classroom displays! 

Listen to the first few episodes of his podcast here.

But the passion for learning and teaching is not Adrian’s only one. He is a cyclist, an ex Rugby Player, a dad of two young boys, aged 2 and 3. Adrian loves dedicating time to his family, and his children have already inherited the love for cycling and gardening from their parents. 

Fun Fact to conclude: Adrian once cycled for 6 days in a row, from the South to North of England, for charity. He cycled for 1,500km! 

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