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1 Supporting, challenging and embedding small class pedagogy John MacBeath Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge UK Seminar on Small Class Teaching.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Supporting, challenging and embedding small class pedagogy John MacBeath Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge UK Seminar on Small Class Teaching."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Supporting, challenging and embedding small class pedagogy John MacBeath Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge UK Seminar on Small Class Teaching – Leadership for Learning June 2010, Hong Kong

2 2 DEVELOPING THE INNER EYE Leadership acts are most likely to occur when attempts are made to understand the circumstances of teachers’ work. This means starting with the practicalities of teaching, developing a language for talking about teaching, and assisting teachers to collect evidence about the contradictions, dilemmas and paradoxes that inhere in their work. This consciousness raising amounts to developing an inner eye so as to penetrate accepted assumptions and, in the process, isolate viable ways in which transformation might occur. (Smyth, 1986, p. 3)

3 3 DEVELOPING THE INNER EYE Leadership acts are most likely to occur when attempts are made to understand the circumstances of teachers’ work. This means starting with the practicalities of teaching, developing a language for talking about teaching, and assisting teachers to collect evidence about the contradictions, dilemmas and paradoxes that inhere in their work. This consciousness raising amounts to developing an inner eye so as to penetrate accepted assumptions and, in the process, isolate viable ways in which transformation might occur. (Smyth, 1986, p. 3)

4 4 Contradictions, dilemmas and paradoxes? Children learn without being taught Learning is social but assessed individually Learning doesn’t travel well from one context to another Teaching can inhibit learning Assessment can inhibit learning… and teaching School leaders can inhibit learning Why do children learn in large classes and not in small classes? Why do researchers find no direct effect of principal leadership on student learning? Why does ‘nothing fail like success’?

5 5 DEVELOPING THE INNER EYE Leadership acts are most likely to occur when attempts are made to understand the circumstances of teachers’ work. This means starting with the practicalities of teaching, developing a language for talking about teaching, and assisting teachers to collect evidence about the contradictions, dilemmas and paradoxes that inhere in their work. This consciousness raising amounts to developing an inner eye so as to penetrate accepted assumptions and, in the process, isolate viable ways in which transformation might occur. (Smyth, 1986, p. 3)

6 6 What assumptions do we have and share about:  Learning?  Teaching?  Assessment?  Leadership?  Class size?  Change? Untested assumptions and inert ideas

7 7  Who holds those assumptions?  How deeply embedded are they?  How open are they to change?  Who are the change agents? Changing minds, changing practice

8 8 The curriculum A rapid table of contents which a deity might run over in his mind while he was thinking of creating a world and has not yet determined how to put it together (Aims of Education, p.4) Inert ideas, that is to say ideas that are merely received into the mind without being utilized, or tested, or thrown into fresh combination (Aims of Education, p.1) Testing, Using and Reframing

9 9 Inconvenient truth What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know It’s what we’re sure we know But it just ain’t so (Tom Sawyer)

10 10 HOW CHANGE WORKS 1. The rule of the vital few: A few exceptional people doing something different start and incubate an epidemic. 2. The stickiness factor: Some attribute of the epidemic allows it to endure long enough to "catch", to become contagious or "memorable". 3. The power of context: The physical, social and group environment must be right to allow the epidemic to then suffuse through the population. (Gladwell, 1999)

11 11 Agency The “sense of agency” refers to the subjective awareness that one is initiating, executing, and controlling one’s own volitional actions in the world. It is closely related to a sense of ownership, an implicit sense that one is the author of an action, movement or thought… Good teachers refuse to underestimate their own sense of agency and have been able to perceive the scope for radical change within their own classrooms and within their own schools. They refuse to collude with the victim mentality which relinquishes initiative, self-belief and a sense of agency. They are encouraged, supported and empowered by a senior leadership team which understands that schools learn and change from the bottom up. (Galton and MacBeath, )

12 12 THE PACE AND FLOW OF CHANGE

13 13 Seeks out opportunities to learn Acts with integrity Adapts to differences Is committed to making a difference Seeks broad based knowledge Brings out the best in other people Is insightful - sees things from new angles Has courage to take risks Seeks out and uses feedback Learns from mistakes Is open to criticism 11 KEY FACETS OF LEADERSHIP

14 14 MYST routine Me: How do I model learning? How do I make my own learning and thinking visible? You: How do I help you make your students’ learning and thinking visible? Space: How is the environment of the school and classroom organized to help promote learning and facilitate critical thinking? Time: What can we do to give thinking and sharing more time in our classroom? How can we gauge how the quality of thinking changes over time?

15 15 Challenge and support Weak support Low challenge High challenge Strong performance Systemic improvement Poor performance Idiosyncratic improvement Conflict Demoralisation Poor performance Stagnation Strong support

16 16 Making learning visible  Is thinking visible here?  Are pupils explaining things to one another?  Are they offering creative ideas?  Are they using the language of thinking?  Am I?  Are pupils debating interpretations?  How is assessment enhancing thinking and feeling?  Is this an environment conducive to learning?

17 17 Joining the dots Learning and teaching Student support and ethos Management & Organisation Student performance

18 18 Embedding principles: How will you know? Clear statement of learning objectives Extended questioning during whole class discussion More active pupil participation Increased cooperation between pupils by working in pairs and groups Less use of corrective and more informing feedback More use of the assessment for learning approach

19 19 Supporting school self evaluation Help create a climate for SSEHelp create a climate for SSE Critique plans for SSECritique plans for SSE Provoke challenging & revealing self- questioningProvoke challenging & revealing self- questioning Explore data gathering approachesExplore data gathering approaches Facilitate the processFacilitate the process Feed back dataFeed back data Advise on analysis and interpretation of dataAdvise on analysis and interpretation of data

20 20 Supporting school self evaluation Challenge in order to clarify and deepen understandingChallenge in order to clarify and deepen understanding Act as a sounding board for testing out emerging ideas and insightsAct as a sounding board for testing out emerging ideas and insights Explore alternative possible courses of actionExplore alternative possible courses of action Facilitate networking with other schoolsFacilitate networking with other schools Motivate and reassureMotivate and reassure Provide readings to stimulate thoughtProvide readings to stimulate thought

21 21 Observing learning and teaching What are the students doing?  What are the students doing?  What are they learning?  What is the teacher doing?  What is she learning?  What am I doing?  What am I learning?  What questions might I ask?  What observations might I make?  What happens next?

22 22 Children and young people live nested lives, so that when classrooms do not function as we want them to, we go to work on improving them. Those classrooms are in schools, so when we decide that those schools are not performing appropriately, we go to work on improving them, as well. But those young people are also situated in families, in neighbourhoods, in peer groups who shape attitudes and aspirations often more powerfully than their parents or teachers. (David Berliner, 2005) CONSTRUCTION SITES

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26 26 Using data for self evaluation Familiarising self and staff with nature and uses of data. Demystifying ‘data’. Focusing on one or two key areas. Teachers are comfortable with data, use it routinely in their day-to- work, are critical and adaptable in its use, share ideas with colleagues, are keen to learn more. Teachers begin to use data collection tools at classroom level and seek support from their mentors and colleagues.

27 27 Decision making Principals make most of decisions on their own or with support from SMT members. Staff may get involved at times in decisions on minor matters. There is a strong sense among staff of inclusion and empowerment in decision making. Staff feel they can offer their opinions freely and are trusted to make decisions. Headteacher consults with the SMT, middle management and selected teachers and takes their views into account in making decisions.

28 28 Accountability Accountability grows out of shared purpose and a sense of mutual responsibility. This is the basis for confident reporting to ESR teams. Accountability is seen as an external imposition and there is uncertainty as to how to know, select and report what quality counts. The meaning and uses of accountability are discussed with staff in order to make it more user friendly and focused on key issues.

29 29 STOP DOING GO ON DOING START DOING

30 30 Intelligence is knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do Jean Piaget

31 31 Berliner, D. (2005) Our impoverished view of Educational Reform, Teachers College Record, August Retrieved from: Galton, M. and MacBeath, J. (2008) Teachers under Pressure, London, Sage Smyth, J, (ed) Learning About Teaching Through Clinical Supervision, London:Croom Helm, 1986 Weiss, L. and Fine, M. (2000) Construction Sites: Excavating Race, Class and Gender among Urban Youth, New York Whitehead, A.N. (1985) The Aims of Education, London, The Free Press Sources


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