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Sunday, October 01, 2017

'When did you last sit down for an hour, in work, to think about how or what you teach?' | TES News - New teachers - Classroom practice

Photo: Thomas Rogers
Unlike their counterparts in Japan, who spend 200 hours less in front of a class every year, the UK's teachers have little time to reflect and improve upon on their practice, writes Thomas Rogers, teacher who runs, also view his back catalogue.

Photo: TES News

When was the last time you sat down for an hour, in work, and thought about the way you were teaching and why you were teaching that way?

When was the last time, in work, you sat down and read a subject-related book for an hour, just to expand your subject knowledge?

When was the last time you watched someone else teach? Not for some policy prerequisite, but just for the sake of watching and learning?

These are activities are intrinsic to the work of the teacher. Yet, at the moment, they rarely happen in the UK. The problem is time. The reason is workload. The causes have been documented well enough.

Education in itself is intellectual, requiring higher order thinking, both of the recipient and the provider. It was revealed last week that Secondary school teachers in England teach for, on average, 200 more hours over a school year than their equivalents in Japan. These are hours that would be spent thinking, pondering, and wondering.

Interest in professional development within the profession has never been higher among British teachers. You only have to look at the number of teachers on Twitter who share what they are reading at the moment to know that the desire to reflect on and improve one’s practice has never been higher. However, the time to actually do so has never been more restricted.

There has been a misconception that always doing something leads to greater productivity. This may well be the case in big business. But education is different. Education is not simply making as many products as possible and selling as many of them as possible. The “product” of learning requires great “pre-thought” and plenty of reflection too.

The idea that classroom teaching is teaching needs challenging. Teaching is merely the cherry on the cake of (hopefully) a cycle of reflection and planning and a gradual building of subject knowledge and pedagogical options over time.

In other countries, such as Japan and Finland, this process is built into day-to-day school timetabling. And the Pisa rankings for countries that do make time for reflection seem to reflect a view that teachers are not replaceable commodities but long-term investments. Find a good teacher, develop the teacher over five to 10 years and give them the time in between to fill in their own gaps.

Source: TES News

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