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10 Simple Steps to Great Teaching & Learning
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10 Simple Steps to Great Teaching & Learning

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This booklet is aimed at school leaders. It identifies the key components of an approach to teaching and learning that will enable class teachers to be successful. There are things to be done and …

This booklet is aimed at school leaders. It identifies the key components of an approach to teaching and learning that will enable class teachers to be successful. There are things to be done and elements of teaching and learning that need to be encouraged.

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  • 1. by John Searl
  • 2. 2 Published by: Not As We Know It Limited 15 Millers Close, Rippingale, Bourne, Lincolnshire, PE10 0TH All rights reserved. First published 2010. Revised 2014. Free clipart by Microsoft ©Not As We Know It Limited www.notasweknowit.co.uk
  • 3. 3 FOREWORD Class teaching is a complex and difficult activity. Those who set out each day to meet the learning needs of children must employ a vast array of knowledge, skills, talents and attributes. This professional challenge cannot be fully met unless the organisation, the school, provides class teachers with an effective framework within which to work. This booklet is aimed at school leaders. It identifies the key components of an approach to teaching and learning that will enable class teachers to be successful. There are things to be done and elements of teaching and learning that need to be encouraged. So, come on school leaders! Get organised and give class teachers the framework, guidance and permissions they need to make teaching and learning great! John Searl
  • 4. Step 1 continued 4 Step 1 To promote effective learning, we will: •ensure children are aware of personal targets for learning; •give opportunities for children to learn in a variety of ways, using their multiple intelligences and preferred learning styles; •provide multi-sensory and ‘first hand’ learning experiences whenever possible; •encourage children to be independent and to choose their own strategies for learning;
  • 5. 5 Step 1 What do you think great teaching and great learning look like? What sort of learning experience would you want for your own child? Have you a shared understanding about how children learn best? Is there an agreement about what the school will do to put those conditions in place? Before evaluating the quality of teaching and learning in your school, you need to have explored and agreed the expectations. Involve as many stakeholders as possible in discussing, agreeing and implementing a thorough policy for teaching and learning.
  • 6. Step 2 Step 2 continued 6
  • 7. 7 Step 2 All involved in the teaching and learning process must have a clear understanding of the next steps required for a child to move forward. Curricular target sheets, written in child-friendly language, provide teachers, children and parents with shared information about those steps. Cross-curricular learning becomes better supported. Curricular target sheets provide teachers with detailed information about prior learning and what needs to be taught next. Children know what they are trying to achieve and parents can support the learning process. Provided children are given opportunities to work independently, assessment is truly continuous. Planning and assessment become one.
  • 8. Step 3 Step 3 continued 8
  • 9. 9 Step 3 Teachers must be clear about the learning objectives and keep them in mind throughout. Learners don’t necessarily need to be so aware. Generally, it is helpful to discuss the learning objectives and success criteria with the learner before the activity, but sometimes that can be left to an opportune moment later on. The use of particular terminology (learning objectives, success criteria etc.) is not important, provided the learners can both identify what they have learned and explain how they know their learning has been successful. The teacher must show how today’s learning fits in to the “big picture” of previous and future learning and answer the vital questions, “Why do I need to learn this?” and “What’s in it for me?”
  • 10. Step 4 Step 4 continued 10
  • 11. 11 Step 4 At its simplest, learning is about observation, imitation and practice, and play is nature’s way of learning. In the animal kingdom, the young learn through play and, because play is enjoyable, the young learn willingly. Play allows the animal learner to observe, imitate and practise in a care-free, non-threatening environment. Our human learners deserve no less. Learners of all ages can benefit from learning through play. Play should not be the preserve of the very young. Whatever the age of the learners, teachers should seek opportunities to present and embed learning through play. Imagination is required! Role-play, games, competition and fantasy can be employed to teach almost anything, and they can provide a useful time for reflection between instruction and replication.
  • 12. Step 5 Step 5 continued 12
  • 13. 13 Step 5 Closely linked with play is investigation and exploration. Human beings are naturally curious, and teachers must make the most of this. An investigation can take two minutes, or two months, depending on the challenge. The right challenge gives the learner an opportunity to seek information, spot patterns, find solutions and draw conclusions. In answering the challenge, the learner can both learn and demonstrate prior learning. Exploration is different to investigation. It is an open-minded welcoming of sights, sounds and feelings. Make sure your timetable has room for it!
  • 14. Step 6 Step 6 continued 14
  • 15. 15 Step 6 When we smile, we feel good - or is it the other way round? Anyway, smiling and great learning go together, and teachers should use this to their own and their learners’ advantage. Every lesson should start and finish with something guaranteed to put a smile on the learners’ faces. It might be a short game, or song, or quick physical activity, it doesn’t really matter, so long as it’s fun. It is helpful, but not essential, if the activity relates in some way to the subject. Try to include movement, as it gets more oxygen flowing to the brain! Through smiling, learners are put into a better frame of mind and are more likely to relate their learning with feeling good.
  • 16. Step 7 Step 7 continued 16
  • 17. 17 Step 7 Play, investigation and exploration are great, but sometimes the teacher has to teach! The most common form of whole class teaching involves a continuous cycle of demonstration and explanation, followed by some questions, followed by more demonstration and explanation, followed by more questions, and so on. In order to avoid diminishing effectiveness, class teaching must be “chunked” using differing methods of instruction that support a variety of styles of learning. There are a great many options involving the classic range of learning styles. The key is variety. Not frantic chopping and changing, but solid, meaty, varying “chunks”!
  • 18. Step 8 Step 8 continued 18
  • 19. 19 Step 8 One classroom, a large group of students and a finite set of resources can be the recipe for tedious times and limited learning. What can the teacher do to make today different to yesterday and the day before? Answer? Think outside the box! Why count beads indoors, when you can count butterflies outside? Why listen to history, when you can act it out? Why read about a bakery, when you can visit one and make bread? Why talk about life elsewhere, when you can ask by e-mail and “Skype”? Why look at a map, when you can zoom in on Google Earth?
  • 20. Step 9 Step 9 continued 20
  • 21. 21 Step 9 What do you hope for when you carry out a lesson observation? You hope to see great teaching and learning, of course! So why wait until after the lesson observation to discuss what great teaching looks like? You will recall that Step 1 was to agree a policy for teaching and learning. Only once teachers have agreed what great teaching is, and have had a chance to practise, is there any point in lesson observation. This applies to both general observations and observations looking at specific elements of teaching and learning. In this way, the post-observation discussion is more likely to be about the great teaching seen and much more likely to be helpful to the teacher.
  • 22. Step 10 Step 10 continued 22
  • 23. 23 Step 10 Without mutual trust and respect between teacher and learner, learning will be limited. The relationship is as crucial as it is delicate. Similarly, learners must trust and respect each other, as co-operative learning is the cornerstone of great class teaching. Time taken for teachers and learners to get to know each other is time well spent. Agreeing ground rules, discussing preferences, team building, and simply learning to be relaxed with one another, all prepare the way for great teaching and learning. Good luck!
  • 24. 24 Curricular Targets (Without Levels) Target Sheets across the Curriculum: Years 1 to 6 This excellent new resource provides target sheets across the new National Curriculum using the hugely popular "Not As We Know It" formats for pupils, parents and teachers. Assessing and Developing Leadership in Schools Assess and develop the attributes of leadership in school. Supports performance management of the leadership group. Developing a Teaching for Learning Policy Transform the quality of teaching and learning in your school. Engage your staff in deep thinking about how and when children learn best. Visit our website at