The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Owen Carter

Excellent teaching: borrow shamelessly, learn from the best

Growth mindsets. Innovation and excellence. Marginal learning gains. Chances are you’ve heard some of these terms flying around the staffroom or seen them filling up your twitter feed. But how can you put them into practice and make sure you’re walking the walk as well as talking the talk? A starting point: learn from the best. Your colleagues, educational experts, resources around the web – teachers can learn as much as the pupils they teach. Borrow great ideas, adapt them yourself and with the help of those around you. Teaching and learning has never been so much on the agenda – so it's an opportune time to get involved in that conversation.

Learn in person

A world class line-up of speakers will be taking part in our Growing Excellence in Growing Excellence Teaching LearningLearning & Teaching conference. You'll be hearing from names like John Tomsett, Shaun Allison, Ross McGill, Zoe Elder and Debra Kidd. They’ll be covering issues such as:

  • Using growth mindsets and cutting-edge research in the classroom
  • Developing and designing a student-centred curriculum
  • Assessing without levels
  • Being the expert teacher and empowering colleagues.

Learn at home

For those who can't be there, or who want to find out more, we've brought together some resources from other educators to challenge your pupils and build excellent teaching practice. David Didau on developing a growth mindset: Most of us understand the importance of challenging your pupils and avoiding limiting their potential. But what do you do when you’re faced with a class that complains ‘this is too hard’? Follow David Didau’s advice. Try giving them something that’s too easy: an insultingly simple wordsearch or basic maths problems. Chances are they’ll say the task is too basic. Here’s a chance to present a choice and make the principles clear. Pose the question ‘Do you want to learn or to do something easy?’. If you’re clear with students that learning requires challenge, then you’re already one step towards instilling that coveted growth mindset. Stephen Tierney on developing staff using lesson observation: The end of Ofsted lesson grading does not mean the end of classroom accountability. What it means is a chance for schools to shift towards internal responsibility. This doesn’t have to mean blunt measures and obsessive over-monitoring. Instead put to use these methods:

  • Use formative feedback to develop teaching – not lesson grading
  • Try coaching models such as joint lesson observations
  • Prioritise mini-research projects within your school.

Teachers are busy, but it's vital to set aside time to reflect on what makes effective practice. Use either the tips from these articles or advice from the conference to make sure that you're making your teaching as good as it can be.

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