March's guest blog comes to you this time from one of our East Lothian colleagues, Jamie Orr
Here's what he has to share about Professional Reading...
The teaching profession is full of ‘things’. These compete for priority and can confuse our thinking about what actually makes the biggest difference to our pupils.
For me, the most important ‘thing’ will always be ‘teaching and learning’: the quality of my teaching is what has the biggest impact on the learning of my pupils. The thing which has made my teaching better is professional reading. Over the last four years, I have worked with colleagues in and out of school to drum up support and interest in professional reading. Why? Because I have experienced first hand just how powerful dipping in and out of books can be. I believe that, even if you’re not a big reader, there is always something to be taken from reading just one page. Going one step further, discussing what you have read with colleagues can make the learning even more powerful. Discussion with colleagues has given me so many valuable opportunities to reflect on my own practice and to help take on board other ideas.
In Doug Lemov’s book, Teach Like a Champion, there are 62 techniques to work through which can help refine our practice. My favourite so far has been ‘No Opt Out’. Lemov explains how to make sure you engage all pupils in thinking about your questions. This sounds simple, but how often do you really feel that your questions impact on every pupil? In Tom Sherrington’s Rosenshine’s Principles in Action, retrieval practice is explored. My favourite part is ‘Provide Scaffolds for Difficult Tasks’. Complimenting this is How I Wish I’d Taught Maths by Craig Barton. Visual ways of scaffolding are discussed and explained. Bruce Robertson’s book, The Teaching Delusion has really made me reflect on my teaching practice. It has questioned the way I teach and made me think about what I should be focussing on. All of these themes are important. And there are many more areas to explore.
When I work with colleagues to discuss and share learning from professional reading, I am always really encouraged by their commitment to go away and try what is being suggested. To reach out to those who aren’t as involved with professional reading, sharing sessions have proven to be successful. Taking time at a CAT session to let people speak about their learning from reading and to share real classroom resources has been popular. The audience like it when teachers talk about teaching. What’s more, this is teachers talking about high-quality teaching.
There are many other books and publications that I have been influenced by, but what I take away from all of these is a firmer belief in what the ‘thing’ is that makes the biggest difference to our pupils. If you have an ‘itch’ to read and want to play a part in sparking some discussion around this, I would really encourage you to start up a voluntary Professional Reading Group.
Theme: Teaching and Learning: Pedagogy
Target Audience: Primary and Secondary Teachers, and School Leaders
Contributor: Jamie Orr, Dunbar Primary School East Lothian
Leader of Teaching and Learning Development
Welcome to the South East Improvement Collaborative Monthly Blog. Each month we will be publishing posts to support classroom practitioners. Colleagues from across the RIC will also be providing entries based on their own practice and professional learning.