Leaders talking teaching and learning!

At this week’s leadership meeting I set the context for our reading of John Hattie’s article on building teacher quality. The article lists a number of key strategies [e.g. feedback] that have the greatest effect size on student learning. It concludes: “expert teachers do differ from experienced teachers …. most critically in the depth of processing that their students attain. Students who are taught by expert teachers exhibit an understanding of the concept targeted in instruction that is more integrated, coherent and at a higher level of abstraction”

As you can imagine this prompted some discussion by those gathered around the table that are largely responsible for improving the instruction capacity of teachers in their teams. Our initial discussions related to our own learning journeys. The team leaders began to highlight some key influences over the past few years and with some sense of relief for me as principal our coaches: Anne Hammond and Kath Murdoch rated highly. Both Anne and Kath have similar key messages – have a clear transparent purpose and focus for the lesson / sequence of lessons and make sure students understand it, provide feedback to students on the focus [teachers often crowd feedback] and make sure that the purpose is connected to their lives in real ways.One of our key improvement areas is in student writing and the leaders began to list some instructional strategies at the surface level they had learnt from the coaches:  – when teaching students to proofread for spelling get them to start from the bottom of the page and work up  – and when giving senior students feedback on writing [if its spelling focus] write sp in the column and get them to do the work, find the error and work out its correction – its about student ownership and work – remembering that if the writing purpose is not bound for publication then don’t over correct – a small focus and specific feedback on a few items rather than a page of red marks.     They made a commitment to share more of these strategies with the wider staff by writing TIPS from ANNE or KATH notes on our SharePoint. According to Hattie those present were showing the following characteristic of experts:  – expert teachers are more adept at developing and testing … instructional strategies and they were showing more emotionality about the success and failures in their work.  

A meeting well worth the time! 

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