Review by Robin Conway

Director of research and innovation, John Mason School

19 Sep 2020, 5:00


Robin Conway’s blogs of the week, 14 September 2020

Behaviour for learning, pace, reflective leadership and teachers’ right to be heard are Robin Conway’s top picks of the education topics this week


EEF Blog: Five-a-day – Achieving Effective Learning Behaviour in Our Classrooms


I have found the EEF’s evidence reviews and guidance reports hugely useful in identifying areas in which I can improve my practice. However they can go into a great deal of depth, which can make it difficult to find the time to read and engage with the ideas during a busy term. Their summary sheets are very helpful, but I am really enjoying their blogging where practitioners and experts distil their findings in a useful and accessible way. This piece by Kirsten Mould is just such an example, with some key ideas from a range of EEF guidance reports distilled into a single piece with the theme of achieving effective learning behaviours. The piece is clear, its ideas are well-explained and a range of questions peppered throughout help us reflect and plan how to implement the guidance. As Mould concludes, “planning these apparently little details into our daily routines means we will develop strong relationships, while teaching and modelling resilience.”


Strategies to Increase Pace


Whether receiving and giving feedback, I have often discussed pace as an issue in lessons – at times too much, but often too little. A well-paced lesson, it seems to me, has a quite distinctive feel. But it is not easy to capture for someone exactly what that is, much less how to achieve it. Needham does an excellent job of addressing this issue, arguing that “a ‘pacey’ lesson is an efficient lesson: the time spent in class will be maximally productive with little to no time wasted at all.” He then goes on to outline nine key strategies to build pace into a lesson, all clearly explained and achievable. This is an excellent piece, full of practical advice and one that has instantly joined my file of useful reads, both as a reminder for myself and to share with others.


What Lies Beneath


Zoe Enser has been highly prolific recently and selecting just one of her excellent blogs to recommend is no easy task. However, this one stands out for its originality and honesty, as she reflects on the behaviours she exhibits as a leader and the possible reasons for these. She frames some of these with ideas drawn from her reading around women in leadership, but I think they will resonate more widely than that. It is very important that educational leaders reflect on their own behaviours if we are to improve and develop and also to support the next generation of leaders. Enser concludes that she doesn’t “have any real answers other than to be aware of what I am doing and saying … We are always a work in progress.” Even without “answers”, the piece is worth reading both as a model of honest self-reflection and for the way it might resonate with many current or future leaders; you are not alone.


A Right to Professional Comment


If Greg Ashman doesn’t always get the recognition his thoughtful and well-considered blogs deserve, it is likely purely because the context in which he is writing (education in New South Wales) does not always translate perfectly to the English context. There are some references here that British teachers may not fully understand, including to a particular literacy initiative known as ‘L3’. However, the wider message is an important one. I am lucky enough to have been encouraged by my headteacher to engage with online learning and to share my voice. Unfortunately, that is not always the case; a number of teachers only post anonymously (or not at all) for fear of a backlash from their employers. Yet we have recently seen examples here of concerns over policy being disregarded by government until it was too late to spare teachers and students from significant stress. Ashman makes a powerful case that, respecting certain professional courtesies and behaviours, teachers “have a right to comment on matters related to their professional expertise” and that their voices should be heard. This is hopefully a message leaders at all levels will heed.

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