Review by JL Dutaut

Teacher of Citizenship and Politics and the co-editor of Flip the System UK: A Teachers’ Manifesto

6 Oct 2018, 5:00


JL Dutaut’s top blogs of the week 1 Oct 2018

Getting Policies Off the Page


The five-page behaviour policy. The vague uniform policy. The never-heard-of-until-Ofsted-call homework policy. Who among us hasn’t experienced their fair share of policy evidently designed to fail? Ben Newmark draws on his own experiences of redundant schemes and draws out simple tips for leadership teams to ensure that when the policy trigger is pulled, it results in more than a flash. If the bull’s eye is cultural change for the organisation, then this advice will ensure your aim is true. Faithful to his message, the post shoots straight from the hip.

Student Evaluations of Teaching Are Not Only Unreliable…


While this blog focuses on studies carried out in Higher Education Institutions, its results couldn’t be more relevant for schools. Student evaluations of teaching may be novel in the rapidly marketising context of universities, but they are already a mainstay in parts of the schools sector. As HEIs look to quick and affordable solutions to evaluate teaching for accountability’s sake, the idea of SETs holds a strong appeal.

Here, Anne Boring, Kellie Ottoboni and Philip B. Stark share findings of international research that shows not only that such evaluations are unreliable (there is stronger correlation between a positive review and a student’s expectation of success than with actual learning outcomes), but they are also strongly biased against female instructors. This blog should give serious concern to anyone with a student interview panel. Nobody still has students observing lessons, do they?

Generating Student Concern for Learning


Anyone who has read Tim Taylor’s Beginner’s Guide to Mantle of the Expert will have recognised in its style and prose the calm demeanour and passionate regard we wish all teachers had for their subject. This blog is no different. Tim invites us along as witnesses to his own, ongoing journey of discovery in respect of imaginative inquiry, and leads us to deeply question what we mean by engagement in the classroom. There is a wonderful parallel between the topic at hand and the narrative of discovery through which it is approached. For those more inclined to ask how this works in the classroom, the author outlines an entire project called Troll Hunters. I can’t help but ask myself whether there is a parallel between content and intent here too.

Comprehension Is A Long Wide Game


As the proposed new Ofsted framework, with its greater focus on curriculum, already starts to make ripples in schools and classrooms, Mr Smith’s blog is a timely reminder that many teachers and leaders never actually gave up on ‘breadth and balance’. They will be glad to welcome the inspectorate back to good sense. Here, the author focuses on reading and argues that a broad curriculum must take in more than a wide variety of books. To promote good reading means to promote the language and experiences with which to receive those books and to talk about them. A trip to the beach instead of an additional comprehension test could be just the ticket to ensure all have a fair chance to succeed.

That Curriculum Thing


Always a blogging powerhouse, the world of teacher social media was pleased this week to welcome Miss Smith back after a break from writing. Here, in typical fighting form, she storms the curriculum debate and leaves few cherished ideas untouched, from the National Curriculum as a tool of social mobility and inclusivity, through scripted lessons as a tool of control and risk-mitigation, to the logical underpinnings of today’s ‘knowledge-rich’ zeitgeist. Whether you’re a battery teacher who wishes for more or a Tesco Finest Curriculum Range teacher through lack of other options, this blog is food for thought, and holds out the promise of something more à la carte.

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