Where should teachers focus their efforts this academic year?

For teachers up and down the country, 2020 has been an interesting year to say the least. The coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent lockdown threw our education system into disarray, with millions of parents forced to tackle the challenge of home-schooling.

During this time, teachers themselves became key workers and had to provide pupils with schemes of work that could be delivered remotely. But now teachers must overcome a new obstacle – helping students catch up on work missed during the six-month stretch of school closures.

So where should your focus be this academic year to ensure pupils receive a high standard of education, and how can you keep bettering yourself as a teacher?

Tell your students what you expect

Through a combination of direct instruction, self-regulated feedback, and ‘nudge theory’, you should be able to define the learning outcomes and keywords that will form the foundations of your lessons.

Apply the right strategies

Modelling strategies, including reciprocal teaching, think-pair-share and ‘I do, we do, you do’, are extremely effective when it comes to developing literacy and numeracy skills in students.

Go with the flow

Even if you have meticulously planned out your lessons, it often makes more sense to go with the flow of learning. However, this requires a whole-school culture of support that allows teachers to make mistakes and learn from them.

Understand how memory works

By having a strong understanding of how students learn and retain information, you can develop an evidence-based teaching and learning policy that is capable of achieving ‘collective teacher efficacy’. You could also reduce your workload and maximise student progress as a result.

Utilise the question matrix

This can help you plan the questions you want to ask your students and how to frame them. With any luck, you’ll be able to check incisively, systematically and effectively that learning has stuck. This helps with providing feedback and identifying areas you need to reteach too.

Always strive to be the best version of yourself

To help improve the impact of your teaching, adopt the seven traits of an effective education professional – passion, organisation, open-mindedness, flexible, collaborative, trailblazing and consistent. In turn, you will change lives, benefit the community and contribute to social mobility.

Use research and publications to your advantage

For example, Barak Rosenshine’s principles of effective instruction could help increase your impact in the classroom. Don’t forget to capitalise on opportunities for professional development either.

Review lesson observations

It is possible that you could be receiving unreliable or biased observations. By improving observations with an open-door culture, you will have a confident teaching team who feel supported to develop.

Prioritise collaboration

Implement collaborative learning strategies, such as back to back (b2b), into your classroom and you will increase student engagement in your lessons while simultaneously creating an inclusive learning environment. Also, embed the right conditions for teachers to work collaboratively in order to improve practice and ensure CPD goes beyond the functional.

Establish a system of coaching

This will better support the professional development of all staff along with improving the teaching and learning in every classroom.

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