Archive of ‘Improving Student Learning’ category

Implementation – Chapter 7

Quality of teaching influenced by:

  • class size
  • the quality of the curriculum
  • the resources available
  • the time available to prepare instruction
  • Support teachers receive from colleagues

Most important factor – qualities that the individual teacher brings to the classroom.

Teachers need to improve because they can be even better, and when they do their jobs better, their students live on get, are healthier, and contribute more to society.

Observation criteria:

  • Clear, valuable learning intentions for lesson
  • Success criteria understood by students
  • Students chosen at random
  • Questions that make students think
  • Students, not the teacher, dominate discussions
  •  At least 80 percent of students involved in answering questions
  • All-student response system used
  • Teacher waits three seconds after question
  • Students support each other’s learning
  • Teacher gives oral formative feedback
  • Evidence of comments that advance learning
  • Teacher finds out what students learned
  • Teaching adjusted after data collection

Exempalry practice

Good practice

Seen, but weak


Used inappropriately


Scaleability requires:



shift in reform ownership

My Teaching Partner – coaching system focused on 3 aspects of teaching:

emotional support for students 9positive relationships, teacher sensitivity, and regard for adolescent perspectives)

classroom organisation (behaviour management, maximising learning time, and effective instructional formats)

instructional support (content understanding, analysis and problem solving, and quality of feedback)



Focus on video  – tacit knowledge visible

Video more useful than rubrics to explore high-quality performance. Rubrics could be a valuable starting point, but won’t necessarily improve practice.

Professional development must be job embedded, practice focused, and continued over a substantial period of time.


Research shows that expertise in teaching is similar to expertise in other areas.” This in turn suggests that the vast majority of teachers could be as good as the very best if their leaders provide the right learning environment for those they lead – creating a culture in which all teachers improve so that all students succeed.”

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Changing Teacher Habits- In chapter 6

Analogy of the riderand the elephant – along a path.

Direct the rider

Find the bright spots – volunteers rather than conscripts, strength based practices

Script the critical moves – highly structured meetings (1. Intro and learning intentions for the meeting 5 min, 2. Warm-up activity 5min, 3. Feedback session 25-50 min, 4. New learning about formative assessment 20-40 min, 5. Personal action planning 15 min, 6. Review of the meeting 5 min

Point to the destination – All students proficient

Motivate the elephant

Find the feeling (emotional impact) – Moral imperative

Shrink the change (break down into manageable chunks) Small steps

Grow your people – All teachers can improve

Shape the path

Tweak the environment (default positions) Create time for teacher learning

Build habits (plan action triggers) Create routines and structures

Rally the herd (create a group ethos around practice) Make new mistakes



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Leadership for Teacher Learning – D Wiliam

5 principles of teacher learning have appeared to be especially important:



small steps



(Wiliam, 2007)


For leaders, four aspects to the creation of supportive accountability:

1. Creating expectations for continually improving practice

2. Keeping the focus on the things that make a difference to students

3. Providing the time, space, dispensation, and support for innovation

4. Supporting risk-taking

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Teaching Strategies

Wave 1

Explicit Teaching – after identifying prior knowledge/ current level of understanding

Direct instruction of well sequenced information – conceptual development

Success Criteria

Clear Learning Intentions

Environment fosters students accessing each other to support learning

Novice – worked examples are more helpful

Experts – more open-ended problems more helpful

(Teacher aware of possible misconceptions, indicators of these, and strategies to confront and fix these)


Wave 2


Help desk


Wave 3

Peer/ Adult support

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Students Posing Questions

This year I have made a deliberate effort to encourage students to pose more questions, believing that this gives me a better insight into students’ thinking. On Friday, during a Geography lesson, I saw the benefits of this. In planning the lesson I had decided to model reading the climate statistics of Adelaide, so that students could then explore the climate statistics of their chosen country.

I presented the following table and graph:

I had planned to pose questions like:

  • What is the highest average maximum temperature? When does this occur?
  • What is the lowest average maximum temperature? When does this occur?
  • What is the average rainfall for June?
  • etc.

Instead I referred to the data and got students to pose the questions. They asked much higher order questions, such as:

  • Who collects the data? – Do they record accurately or can they manipulate the data if they are climate sceptics? (This wasn’t worded in this way, but it was what they were getting at.)
  • How accurate is the data?
  • What is the area related to the rainfall? How does this affect the data collected?
  • Has there been major differences between the climate each year?
  • After looking at the average temperatures, and knowing that the temperature can be much higher than these in Adelaide, one student thought that the statistics may be different if the last few years’ data was used, rather than the previous 30 years.
  • Is the data reliable?
  • When was it recorded?
  • Who recorded it?
  • Why is January the hottest month and has more rainfall than February? – February is usually hotter isn’t it?
  • Why does the minimum temperature follow the maximum? (Recognition of pattern)
  • Why does June have the highest rainfall?

I will continue to encourage students to pose and answer their own and others’ questions.

What sort of questions are your students posing?

What does this show you about their thinking?

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