A new report on effective pedagogy (interesting that they use this word instead of education) by Iram Siraj and Brenda Taggart with a foreword by Dylan William.
I want to share the key finds, the full report can be downloaded here.
Teachers in excellent schools were rated particularly highly on their organisational skills. Their resources were prepared ahead of time, well managed during lessons and particularly fit for purpose and tailored to the individual needs of their pupils. They made productive use of instructional time by maintaining good pace and ensuring that every second of their lessons counted. Pupils in these classes had the highest ratings of self-reliance.Year 5 classrooms in schools identified as poor had significantly lower ratings than the other groups on the organisation and suitability (fit for purpose) of teacher resources, the productiveness of instructional time, the clarity of the teacher’s expectations, the management of classroom routines and the extent to which children were independent and self-reliant. Lessons were slow to start, pace was not maintained and time was wasted during transitions. Pupils in these classes received the lowest ratings of self-reliance.
Teachers in excellent and good schools ensured that the concepts and ideas presented in lessons were understood by all children. They checked that children understood the main ideas of the lesson and intervened when understanding was not clear or complete, even if this required a change part way through the lesson or activity.
Although most teachers ensured the learning intention of the lesson/activity was clear (e.g., by writing the “learning objectives” on the board), teachers in excellent schools were especially good at making sure the children understood what this meant. Pupils in these classes were very clear about what they were expected to achieve and how much time they were given to do it.
In contrast, objectives, learning concepts and ideas were less clear in schools rated as poor.
Teachers were slower in checking and correcting pupils’ understanding of key concepts and ideas. Although children in these classrooms were aware of their lesson objectives, it was not clear whether they fully understood them or how to achieve them, and they were much less focused and less motivated to meet these goals.
Teachers in excellent and good schools set homework that was more meaningful and more clearly linked to what the children were learning. They had a more flexible approach to setting homework, which was set to extend and deepen the children’s understanding.
In schools rated as poor, teachers set homework simply because they were required to, and the work itself did not appear to be expressly linked to what the children were learning in class. There were no examples of teachers using opportunities that arose during a lesson to set homework other than what was already planned.
Classroom climate (the overall feeling in a classroom, evidenced through teacher-pupil and pupil-pupil relationships) was rated highly in excellent and good schools. For example, in classrooms in both excellent and good schools children appeared to be liked and respected by their peers.
The overall classroom climate in poor schools was less favourable and sometimes unpleasant.
Teachers were more likely to display negativity (disapproval, reprimands, expression of teacher’s dislike, etc.) and children in poor schools were less sociable and less cooperative than their peers in other schools.
The differences between the three groups of schools were evident when considering the management of behaviour. Children in excellent and good schools were less disruptive and rarely needed to be disciplined. Where teachers did need to correct behaviour, they used humour or a quiet reminder.
Although overall levels of indiscipline throughout the sample were generally low, children in schools rated as poor were more disruptive and teachers disciplined them more frequently. Discipline was often public and sometimes involved threats, personal attacks, shaming or belittling children. Levels of chaos were significantly higher in these classrooms, and teachers practised “over control” – rigid approaches designed to meet the teachers’ (rather than children’s) needs with teacher-dominated talk.
Children in excellent schools spent relatively more time, overall, in collaborative learning situations than those in poor schools, although overall the amount of time children spent in these groups was fairly low.
Personalised teaching and learning
Teachers in excellent and good schools were more likely to personalise their pupils’ learning experiences. They did this by being sensitive to the individual needs of the children in their classes and by providing learning materials that were rich and varied. They were rated very low in teacher detachment (e.g., distancing themselves from their pupils by staying at their desks, not offering feedback, not noticing children’s behaviour or needs) and high in providing social support for pupil learning, particularly in literacy.
Teachers in excellent schools were exceptionally sensitive to the needs of the children and provided outstanding learning materials specifically chosen and adapted for their pupils. The individual needs of the Year 5 children in these schools were met through their teachers’ friendly approach, high expectations and appropriately challenging and differentiated tasks.
Making links explicit
On the whole, there were few instances of teachers making extra and cross-curricular links explicit. Teachers in excellent schools were better able and more consistent in making links with areas outside the specific lesson.
Dialogic teaching and learning
The extent of dialogic teaching showed few differences between the three groups of schools, except in maths where teachers in excellent schools received the highest ratings on using dialogic teaching and learning. Teachers in excellent and good schools were rated significantly higher on dialogic teaching for their use of analysis in maths and in the depth of their pupils’ knowledge and understanding. They were also rated more highly on maths discussion and communication, and on sharing the locus of maths authority. In literacy, they were rated higher on instructional conversations.
Assessment for Learning (AfL)
Teachers in excellent and good schools provided more evaluative feedback than those in poor schools. In addition, teachers in excellent schools provided greater opportunities for pupils to reflect on their learning through review than teachers in both good and poor schools, who did not differ in providing these opportunities.
Teachers in excellent and good schools included plenaries in their lessons almost twice as often as those in poor schools.
In addition, those in excellent schools were more likely to use the plenary to provide opportunities for further discussion, to explore issues in more depth and to extend work and concepts covered in the lesson. In poor schools, a plenary session was often not included at the end of the lesson.
Good teachers did all of the above but teachers in excellent schools excelled in their:
- organisational skills;
- positive classroom climate;
- personalised, highly interactive approaches to teaching and learning;
- use of dialogic teaching and learning and
- more frequent and effective use of the plenary.