On the 30th of December, back in 2012, I wrote a blog post about making and sustaining habit changes in education – read it here – based on my reading of the brilliant, Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath. I said then, and I would maintain little has changed, that this one book has influenced me more than any other as a teacher and a school leader. It isn’t about teaching at all, but it is an education about the psychology of changing our behaviour and developing habits.
My thinking has developed a great deal from my blog back in 2012, but the element that struck me most about how we can help steer people in the right direction by ‘finding the bright spots’. As a teacher, I’d always known about modelling good habits, about using model answers etc., but the more I considered our adult developments as teachers, the more I realised it was simply capturing a truth about human behaviour.
Our whole school training in the interim between 2012 and 1014 has changed a great deal. Virtually every training session we run is centred around the excellence of our existing staff and the skill they exhibit day in, day out. When Doug Lemov wrote ‘Teach Like a Champion’ he sought out the best teachers and watched them at work. His book is a testament to that craft knowledge. For me, the heart of great continuous professional development simply finds as much time as possible to do just that: shine a light on the craft knowledge of our teachers, who, crucially, know our students better than anybody. Share it and grow it.
We attempt to do this in various ways. Finding time for staff by taking away extraneous jobs has been a key factor. Then finding regular fortnightly training time, the vast bulk in departments to ensure a focus on subject disciplines and their body of knowledge, in addition to pedagogical content knowledge. We have then brought video technology into all of our CPD sessions. It provides a crucial tool to shine the light on the bright spots in school. Too many experienced experts hide their light under a bushel because they are focused on cracking on with the job. We need to help lift the bushel!
Our most recent development is our Huntington Learning Hub website – see here. Much of the website is private and protected for our teachers so that our videos can be shared amongst our staff, but we also want to celebrate the innovations and excellence that emerge from every bright spot across school. It is another tool in the armoury to share best practice and to enhance the quality of teaching and learning. It needs to grow and embed, but it is off to a good start. Take a look at some of the following articles and blogs to get a sense of the ‘bright spots’ we are looking to share:
- Differentiation – Top Ten Strategies by Garry Littlewood – here.
- Memory for Learning – Top Ten Strategies by Claire Speck – here.
- Behaviour for Learning – Top Ten Strategies by Jane Elsworth – here.
- Creativity and Challenge – Top Ten Strategies by Julie Watson – here.
- Questioning and Feedback – Top Ten Strategies by me – here.
- Robin Parmiter on why you cannot teach happiness, but you can teach ‘Happiness’ – here.
- Hugh Richards on choice and creativity here – here.
- John Titmas on DIRTy History – here.
- One of our book review of ‘Make it Stick’ written by Claire Speck – here.
- One of our website reviews on the ‘A Level Mindset’ website by Steve Foreman – here.
This is just a sample of the resources and blogs we are sharing within school and more broadly. We have a handful more coming this Monday. We will be continuing to shine the light, so peer under the bushel and take a look!