PROFESSIONAL LEARNING – HOW WE CAN APPLY EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH TO THE CLASSROOM?
One of my main responsibilities as a Head of Learning Area is to create an environment where every teacher has a continuous desire to learn and improve. No matter how experienced or proficient a teacher is, everyone can improve. As Dylan Wiliam says “Every teacher needs to improve not because they are not good enough, but because they be even better”.
An effective way of improving your teaching is engaging with research. I have only become interested in educational research in the last couple of years as a result of following educational researchers like Dylan Wiliam, Daisy Christodoulou and Daniel Willinghamon on Twitter. Prior to this I had not really considered the way I taught, how students learned or the impact of my teaching on my students. I was teaching with my eyes closed and hoping for the best. I now consider being evidence informed an important duty of being a teacher. Discovering more about research on teaching and learning has really changed the way I think about education.
A great starting point for undertaking research on effective teaching practice is Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction (2012) which outlines evidence informed strategies and describes how they can be used in the classroom to improve student outcomes.
Principles of Instruction refers to the key pillars of classroom practice such as building knowledge, questioning, formative assessment, feedback and modelling. These are all areas that teachers can focus on (practice and receive feedback) when setting future teaching goals. The principles of instructions can also help to inform your planning. The elements of a well planned learning sequence are all referred to in the article.
The paper effectively links rigorous research on cognitive science relating to how people think with practice by suggesting teaching strategies that are underpinned by evidence. It uses simple language to compare successful teachers with teachers who are less successful and provides helpful advice on how teachers can be more effective in the classroom.
Rosenshine’s findings are based on over 40 years of research on effective teaching practice. A key part of this research involved observing a wide range of teachers and investigating the extent to which they adopted certain practices that maximise the impact of teacher instruction. This was then linked to achievement data to find a correlation between teacher behaviour and improvements in student outcomes.
Principles of Instructions reinforces that helping students to secure and retain baseline knowledge is essential to learning. The article also reinforces that traditional teacher led direct instruction combined with checking for understanding, whole class questioning, explicit guidance, explanation and modelling are crucial components of effective teaching.
The key set of principles outlined in the article are:
- Begin a lesson with a short review of previous learning.
- Present new material in small steps, with student practice after each step.
- Ask a large number of questions and check the responses of all students.
- Provide models for problem solving and worked examples.
- Guide student practice.
- Check for understanding.
- Obtain a high success rate.
- Provide scaffolds for difficult tasks.
- Require and monitor independent practice.
- Engage students in weekly and monthly review.
For today’s meeting we will be undertaking some professional learning exploring the key ideas of Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction (2012) and considering how it fits within our context.
Today’s meeting has been inspired by the following outstanding posts on Rosenshine by Tom Sherrington and Mark Enser.
- Read each section.
- Discuss your initial reaction to this section with your partner.
- Summarise the key messages of each section.
- Why are these principles of instruction crucial to effective practice?
- What do we do currently relating to these principles of instructions?
- What could we do differently in relation to these principles of instructions?
- List any questions you have about this section?