What is your perfect lesson structure? Is there one?

What is the best structure for a lesson or sequence of lessons?

If you are reading this post you hopefully buy into the idea that a teacher’s core role in education is to create memorable learning experiences that promote the 3Es; excitement and engagement which leads to students excelling at school and subsequently in life.

Therefore, in lessons, what is the right balance between content, discovery and reflection?  Does it depend on the age, ability, gender or size of the class?

Furthermore, what is the best combination of independent, interdependent and dependent learning to generate the optimum ‘learning mix’?

For the divergent thinkers out there, plenty of questions with many possible solutions; I would love to hear your thoughts…


How should we teach?

My philosophy on the above question is that we should, for the majority of the time, be the ‘guide from the side’.

As John Dewey said in ‘How We Think’, for teachers ‘to cram pupils with facts which, with little more trouble, they could discover by direct inquiry is to violate their intellectual integrity by cultivating mental servility’

Direct instruction, of course, has an important role to play at the right time, however, we have all experienced the buzz we get from discovering things for ourselves.  Therefore if we want ‘buzzing’ students (if you can pardon the phrase) in our lessons we must allow opportunities for discovery.

This is common sense practice, not common practice.

Time and the complete lack of it!

After struggling to maintain blogging once a week for the past few weeks I have arrived at a brave decision; my posts will become shorter and more open ended to invite discussion on the topics I ramble on about.

The inspiration for this has come from reading the brilliant blog of the follically challenged genius Seth Godin (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/); his posts are never more than a few paragraphs and therefore easily digested and less time consuming for him to write and, more importantly, for his fans to read; a win win situation for all concerned with our ever increasing hectic schedules.

So, there you have it…

My 4 word motto….

Talk less, listen more…

Can you condense your beliefs and principles into 4 words? If so, what is yours and why? It would be great to find out… please join in the fun on Twitter #4wordmotto or comment on this post!


The (In)consistency of OFSTED: Who OFSTED’s OFSTED?

A big declaration from Professor Dylan William, well known for his leading working on AfL in the classroom: ”OFSTED do not know good teaching when they see it!”

From your experience in school environments do you agree with this?  Do OFSTED inspectors have consistency across the schools they inspect?  If two OFSTED teams inspected the same school one week apart, with no communication between the two teams, would they ‘grade’ the school the same?  How thorough is OFSTED’s quality control? 

I am not a 100% sure of the answers, maybe someone with more experience could help me out here…

Professor William, in a recent TES article, does make a point that, in my humble opinion, screams out common sense:

”If I showed you a 30-second clip of a game between Manchester United and Manchester City and I said ‘Who won the game?’, you would say it’s ridiculous to try to predict the outcome of a 90-minute game on the basis of a 30-second clip,” Professor Wiliam said. “And that is what we are trying to do with Ofsted, isn’t it? Instead of saying a teacher is going to teach a kid for 200 hours, they are looking at 30 minutes.”

Furthermore, some schools have been awarded an ‘Outstanding’ when teaching in the school is rated ‘Good’ overall.  How can this be?  Our core role as a teacher is to consistently generate exciting, engaging, challenging and memorable learning experiences for all students.  If a school’s curriculum is the lifeblood of the school then high quality pedagogical practices are the red blood cells that that keep curiculum alive and vibrant!! Blood (the curriculum) without the vital red blood cells (quality pedagogy) is pointless and useless.   

I am going to leave you all with three thought provokers.  The first is a conversation I found courtesy of a RT on twitter from the brilliant David Didau (@learningspy).  If you have not checked out his blog (http://learningspy.co.uk/) , do it……and quickly:

”I asked an inspector if they’d ever taught a lesson; they hadn’t but ‘observed over 100’. I’ve seen all of ER, am I a doctor?”

The second is from Professor William himself:

“I am not saying that Ofsted doesn’t know what it is doing, I am saying that teaching and learning is so complex that it’s very hard to predict how much kids are going to learn in a year by looking at a sample of half an hour.”

And finally, did you know that Finland, the world’s leading educational country according to PISA, do not have the equivalent of an OFSTED inspection?  They have a culture of responsibility and trust where teaching is a highly sought after and regarded profession compared to the UK’s culture of accountability and control.

(Check out my post on Finland here: https://wasibettertodaythanyesterday.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/what-can-we-learn-from-finland/)

So everyone, what is the future for OFSTED?  How can they change for the better?  Do they need to change?  Do we need OFSTED to improve our educational system? And indeed, who OFSTED’s OFSTED?

Many questions to consider, with many possible solutions…