TopTenTeacher has been quiet recently but has now returned. It is great to see plenty of visitors making the most of what is on offer while I have been away. It has been months since I have posted anything and it is about time to get back in the saddle, and get on with it. The reason it has been quiet is because I have been doing some studying which should mean that come November I will be awarded the title of MSc. It has been a long journey beginning in 2010, studying part time but as of yesterday my final assignment was submitted. Now I have time to focus on the website.
Should you do it?
For anyone thinking of doing some additional study, I would highly recommend taking the leap. It can be done at the same time as a full time job but don’t expect an easy ride. Balancing work and study is tricky but at least, as a teacher holidays can be used for catchup. If you are not a teacher, make the most journeys to work and any free time that comes your way. Having said that, working part-time for the last 6 months has helped me maintain my sanity.
Why do it?
You know all that stuff you read on the internet? What about the things SLT says which just don’t seem quite right? Well it is likely that you are not getting the full picture. Study at a higher levels will help to know who to believe and who is talking out their **se. This is particularly a problem in education which seems to be full of fads and false promises. Next time Neil from SLT asks you to incorporate Pose, Pause, Pounce and Bounce questioning into your lessons, take a moment. Do some research, start here. Continue until you find out where Neil got his facts from; ask him why he thinks this approach is appropriate if needs be. Use google scholar; its free, and reading the abstracts of academic literature should be enough to discover if Neil is talking edubabble. Just be aware the more you read the better informed you will be. Of course not many teachers have that much free time so there are a few short cuts. The Education Endowment Foundation’s toolkit is a great place to start. It takes into account, cost, evidence and impact of various interventions. Research Ed provides some influential opinions with easy to absorb videos. However, remember they are opinions and it is better to do your own research to be certain of how you want to approach the next ‘big thing’ in eduction.
To be clear studying an MSc has lead me to appreciate how difficult it is to be certain about anything in eduction. Questions about how to improve learning outcomes should be used alongside questions about what do we want students to learn. Also, is the curriculum relevant? Are students being taught to pass exams? Will students use anything they have learnt in school when they leave? What I am certain about is that most teachers have had enough of the next ‘big thing’. Classrooms should not be places where school leaders experiment with random pedagogy. Also teachers should not be expected to deliver the curriculum in a manner that has no proven effect on learning outcomes. Teachers teach the way they think works best and for them and actually it usually does. Only when ‘experts’ get involved that everything goes t*ts up. Nothing is worse for a teacher than going into a classroom and feeling like a content delivery robot. Teachers should be the ones deciding what is best for their students, Neil should focus on what is best for his teachers.
Neil should not be pushing to get his performance management targets are met with school wide adoption of PPPB. However, he should be allowed a place to experiment with new pedagogies. This place should be somewhere academics are allowed to visit, take out a pen and paper and take measurements. Measurements do not involve sitting and recording if students were engaged in learning activities. Measurements involve recording the effects of an intervention on learning outcomes. Anyone who has tried to measure learning outcomes will know it is not a simple process (I know) but must be done to provide any meaningful evidence. Then, and only then, should teachers decide if the next big thing in education is worth paying attention to.