A-Z of Teaching & Learning by @ASTSupportAAli

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In this short blog I will share with you my A-Z of Teaching and Learning related items/posts/resources/ideas. I will try to avoid the typical ‘Ofsted’ buzzwords and generic words, such as literacy/numeracy/SEND/PP/BME NQTs etc. Items we should in theory be really aware of.

I have hyperlinked the keywords to websites with more information. These include blogs, posts and tweets from various educators across the social media platforms.

I have found this extremely powerful to write. You should compile your own list?

A- Aims. Setting out the aims of the lessons/unit of work/CPD is extremely vital. From this an educator can evaluate whether the students have grasped elements of what was intended through an assessment of some sort. Accessibility to the instruction can also be evaluated and whether any alterations are needed can be judged.

B- Blogs. Whether flipped learning or for information. Blogs can be a useful tool to share best practice work/ideas/information with staff and students. @TeacherToolkits blog has had over 2 million views! Anything ICT related talk to @ICTEvagelist or @ICTMagic for support!

C- Curriculum. Changing figure heads/governments bring about changes to our routines and curricula. Change is something as a teacher, I am becoming used to. The National Curriculum is something I believe strongly in. I do not think this should become localised, as a core entitlement to the basics should be offered and taught to all. CPD often reflect the continually changing drivers. Northern Rocks and Teach Learn Takeover are examples of amazing educators taking CPD into their own hands. Thank you to the organisers such as @DebraKidd and @EmanHardy!

D- Diversity. Teachers and students come in different shapes and sizes! Some come with particular skills we all desire and some, lets just say are a little more difficult to understand. Diversity is so important to me. Diversity makes a difference! Whether traditional or progressive, if the students make successful progress and leave with a love for learning I am happy!

E- Examinations. Are schools to prepare students for everyday life and the environments they will end up in, or for exams and the outcomes they bring- grades/qualifications. Whatever the answer may be, I aim to give my students a whole education, which includes what parents may be expected to do too. People like @SueCowley and @NancyGedge regular write about a parental perspective to all things education!

F- Failing. First Attempt in Learning? Or just a way to make mistakes to then learn and move forward. If a students doesn’t fail in your lessons at all, are they learning? Or just reinforcing what they already know? Providing adequate feedback and acting on the feedback seems to be the biggest in thing at the moment!

G- Grading. Thankfully due to effortless persistence many top tweeters managed to convince Ofsted and in turn many Head Teachers nationwide to drop grading individual lessons. Ofsted have become more open to listening to the voices of many teachers and these representatives such as @DebraKidd and @LearningLeader have served us well.

H- Homework. Is it useful? Is there a place for it? In my opinion yes. If students have challenges/obstacles stopping them to be able to carry out homework, then we should aim to overcome them. Does homework prepare for higher education? I think so…

I- Inclusion. Is it an entitlement or a right? Should we be expected to include every identity in every way? @JulesDauby and @SimonKnight amongst others are raising the profile of Inclusion massively. Follow the hashtag #InclusionDebate. Whatever we aim to do, improving should the core of our goals.

J- Jargon. Teachers love their buzz words, acronyms and jargon! Sometimes we could seem like we are speaking entirely in coded language!

K- Knowledge. The idea that facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education or the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject should supersede the idea of skills related to the same subject(s). Or simply that the job of a teacher is to impart knowledge to their students. Or, is it to help students discover knowledge themselves?

L- Learning Styles– Visual? Audio? Kinaesthetic? I have included this to represent the many ‘new initiatives’ that teachers are often introduced too. However, thanks to an extensive drive to incorporated my evidence informed practice, many are now debunked. Leadership teams should be careful with whole school drives without be evaluators of research.

M- Mindsets. Whether this is seen as some new fad or hopefully, you have understood Dwecks work, that with effort, persistence and good direction all students can succeed. This seems to also be taking a bashing at the moment. I am fully behind the notion of all, students, teachers, adults should encompass a growth mindset to prevent a fixed ideology of belief. This is a good mission statement to have!

N- New. New NQTs/teachers, new ideas, new initiatives and so on. School leaders seem to be drawing in changes at the moment. Teachers need to be able to embrace ‘newness’. Networking can help address these. However, with anything new, something old should be removed. As @LearningSpy states, any idea that revolves around teachers working harder, will fail.

O- Observations. Viewing other educators practice is extremely useful in teaching and learning development. Going to other schools and observing practices, procedures and ways of working can be the best CPD.

P- PSHE– Personal, Social, Health Education. Although not a compulsory element of the curriculum, I think PSHE is paramount in developing a holistic child. A form of pedagogy that should be incorporated into all subjects.

Q- Questioning. Types of questioning, who to question, the quality of questions and when to question is part of the skill of being a teacher. Aside from questioning in lessons, educators need to also be confident in questioning leadership decisions and be confident in querying any quirky quibblers!

R- Relationships. This is often debated too. Whether we should be ‘friendly’, or simply a port/point of instruction. I firmly believe that without building successful relationships with young people it can become extremely difficult for them to realise for themselves why their education is needed. @Humanutopia have shown me this immeasurable over the last year. With relationships comes respect, responsibility and of course resilience.

S- Summer Babies. Setting. Sir Tim Brighouse asked me to look at the ages of the students in bottom set classes. He challenged me to find a bottom set that didn’t include mainly pupil premium students who were born in the summer with low SAT scores. Unfortunately, I couldn’t. Go and look at your sets? Hopefully you won’t have any setting.

T- Teamwork. In amazing schools, staff talking about teaching, staff observe each other and staff rely on each other. a collegiate approach shows solidarity and togetherness. Hopefully, this can rub off on the students too. TeachMeets (thank you to the likes of @VicGoddard and @ActionJackson for supporting), display the amazing teamwork of staff and local businesses. Teaching Assistants are and should always be involved in this team too. @RLJ1981 amazing Don’t Change The LightBulbs book displays how teachers can work together expertly!

U- Uniqueness. Remember all students bring with them different, amazing, unbelievable characteristics. Do not label them.

V- Vocabulary. Getting students to stop starting every sentence with basically or like is essential in ensuring our young people can simply, speak correctly as well as writing well. This is a good vision to have!

W- Well Being. The amazing #Teacher5aDay initiative by @MartynReah promotes the often hidden, forgotten element of work life balance. However, I must stress that anyone with the feelings that only teachers on full timetables can complain about their workalike balance is futile and just wrong.

X- Xylophones. Needed in fantastic music lessons! Ok, a more serious one could be eXtra curricular! Competitions such as the Magistrates’ Mock Trial Competition can help students realise their inner potential in ways that subjects/lessons can not.

Y- Years. If a student is to fit into the system that is desired a person can spend a total of (depending on desired profession), up to 20 years in full time education!

Z- ZPD– The concept of keeping students in the struggle zone of learning is extremely important in ensuring students struggle and therefore learn. If they are in the comfort zone too much, they become at ease with becoming helpless. A learned helplessness must be avoided at all costs. It is hard, is OK!

Why not start an A-Z of your own? Maybe based on your own subject area? Click here!

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4 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Amjad. Having done an inset session with 50+ Middle Leaders yesterday, which included an impassioned debate about time pressures, I’d like particularly to emphasise “with anything new, something old should be removed”. I think we should all determine to make 2015 the year when we do less and make more of it.

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