#LearningFirst Towards better teacher training

This wasn’t actually the title but the essence of the workshop… No answers were given but questions raised, and food for thought supplied.

Teacher education has become a ticking of standards rather than a focus on student progress and the impact teaching approaches have on that. It’s been an addressing of single standards and there has been no recognition of the inter-relatedness between these standards. My experience of Post-16 training is that it has always been about the completion of assignments; I know that I certainly saw those essays as something I had to do for my PGCE rather than something that would enhance my practice and improve students’ learning. We should be moving to a place where our trainees are assessed in a meaningful way; there’s no wonder that teachers and leaders have no idea how to plan for assessment in a way that puts #LearningFirst as their own interactions with a qualification as a student have not looked that way.

Becoming a great teacher should be far more holistic in approach- it’s about moving students in their attitude to learning. The emphasis needs to be changed so that trainees are looking at the students in front of them rather than standards. Students and #LearningFirst; mapping of standards afterwards.

Their training should also prepare them for the realities of the challenges that face them and the resilience they’ll require on a daily basis.

Learning is not about assessing each chunk- we should work towards developing a trainee’s view of students’ learning over time. Otherwise, trainees end up becoming teachers (and leaders) who do things that they think will move learning on- without taking note of whether or not it works… What difference has teaching made? How? Why?

Do all good teachers know what makes them good? This is the barrier preventing them from being a good mentor and they need help to overcome this- they often don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing…but with some guidance, can be shown how to share this with colleagues. There is real benefit in doing this with more of our current teachers so that they can mentor future generations in the most effective ways.

Teacher training is a collective responsibility- we ALL need to create the conditions for them to become the great teacher they want to be- and that leads to progress for the children. It’s important that trainees get positive and similar messages from everyone they work with. The damage often only needs to come from one ill-considered comment from a colleague or leader on a bad day. Everything we do and say helps to shape our students and our trainees. Each of us needs to be reading from the same page so that the trainee builds up good work and assessment habits they can carry long into their careers.

One question I’m left with- why do we still grade trainees if Ofsted don’t grade anymore and most education organisations don’t grade?

Read my full reflections on the day here

My writing commitment: I’m learning to honour my thoughts. I’m learning that my words can be shared before I’ve connected all the dots or learned everything there is to know. My writing can be a snapshot of a single moment in continually-evolving time.

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