- Most teachers and school leaders think they know what makes great teaching, but they don't;
- Most teachers and school leaders think they know what it takes to improve teaching, but they don't;
- Most teachers and school leaders think that teaching in their classroom/department/school is good enough, but it isn't.
I have just finished reading The Teaching Delusion by Bruce Robertson, and it hit all the right notes for me. I found myself nodding along, lapping up what Robertson says, constantly thinking "This is exactly what I think, but said so much more eloquently." In fact, I am thinking of copying a few extracts to give to people when I can't put into words my own thoughts!
I jest, of course. There were plenty of insights in the book that I had not thought about before, and a couple of things I disagreed with.
The main premise is that no matter how good teaching is, it can always be better. This has been a point I have made at the start of each new school year since getting the job of T&L Coordinator, and my most recent phrasing has been "It is both our right and our duty to continue to improve our teaching". I use this wording carefully, to instil the idea that it is our right to want to continue to improve ourselves, get better at our jobs, and become better teachers. This aligns with Robertson's idea of a Professional Learning Culture. On the other hand, we serve a community of children and their parents (who, in my case, pay a fair amount of money for our services), and it is also our duty to them to do the best job we can, which includes continually improving our teaching. Our duty to the parents who pay, yes, but mainly our duty to the young people we have the pleasure of working with, whose future depends so much on what we say and do, how we make them feel, and what they learn from us.
Robertson asserts that The Teaching Delusion is made up of three factors:
I have been working on what I call the Aspects of Teaching, which is designed to underpin our Instructional Coaching Programme. The purpose behind this is to give coaches and teachers some broad areas of what we do to talk about, but also split it up a little bit to direct conversations to the most important parts that teachers want to work on.
Below is the Aspects of Teaching. It should start automatically, and takes about a minute to play through the whole animation. There is a static image version here.
Hopefully it is fairly self explanatory, which is why I have produced it in an animation form. But by splitting what we do into the 4 big Aspects, and then focusing on a particular detail within one of these, I am hoping to help create useful conversations.
For each Aspect there will be a set of strategies taken from various sources, including
Wholesome Leadership by Tom Rees is a whole approach to school leadership. It is based around the model of the heart, the head, the hands and the health of school leaders, and goes into detail as to what successful leaders in schools do in each of these categories.
Throughout the book, Rees tells personal stories of how he has developed as a leader in the different aspects, as well as giving specific examples of his experiences. This personal touch really helps the book feel more authentic, as you can tell it is written by somebody who has lived these experiences. This is balanced nicely by the interviews with others who are (or have been) involved in leadership in education, each giving their own perspective on one of the aspects of the Wholesome Leadership model.
Before delving into the nitty gritty, Rees shares a handy planning tool, which he calls the Five Fives, for managing change, a big part of being a school leader. Throughout the book he refers back to this tool, providing a template at the end of each chapter to encourage leaders to engage in planning their changes.
Also at the end of each chapter are a series of reflection questions for leaders to use to ascertain what areas they would like to work on in their leadership/school. Combining these with the Five Fives planning tool is an excellent way for leaders to take action after reading the chapter.
Illustrated by Oliver Caviglioli, the visuals add to the whole experience of the book. Each chapter starts with a summary of key quotes which gives the reader a nice taster of what is to come. The highlight of the visuals are the WalkThrus for Learning Walks, Appraisal, CAP Meetings and Review Mornings.
Each of the four parts of the Heart, Head, Hands and Health model is broken into 3 linked chapters. Although it is an easy book to read all the way through, it is also designed so you can jump to a particular chapter that you are interested in. I can see myself popping back to chapters on a regular basis to reacquaint myself with the ideas, now that I have read the whole thing.
I have created a summary document of the book. The image is below, but you can find the PDF version here, which can be printed up to A2 (it also works pretty well in A3). Some more details on each chapter are below that.
I am a maths teacher looking to share good ideas for use in the classroom, with a current interest in integrating educational research into my practice.