In June 2020, Evidence Based Education will publish a report authored by Rob Coe. The report will provide a credible evidence summary of the elements of great teaching practice. This will provide a structured point of reference for the things teachers do, know or believe, which have been found to be related to how well their students learn.
This is the first stage in an ambitious project to provide teachers with evidence-informed guidance and personalised diagnostic feedback for their long-term professional development. It is stage one of developing the Great Teaching Toolkit.
The fundamental goal of everyone that works in education is to improve outcomes for students. While many personal, family, and cultural factors contribute to learners' academic performance, a large body of research indicates that teachers matter more to their achievement than any other aspect of their education. The quality of teaching is hugely important to the outcomes of students.
We know that expertise develops over time and is an ongoing process. However, in the main, the current model of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is ‘Continuing’ in the sense that it continues to happen over a career, on an ad-hoc basis. It is not continuing in the sense that there is a set of key practices that are constantly developed over time, that you keep getting better at. By ‘better’ we mean more effective at facilitating students’ learning: helping more students to learn more.
If you want to get better (or help your teachers get better) it’s difficult to know where to start. Your resources are precious, you have no time to waste. How should you prioritise your professional development? What are your best bets in terms of making the most difference to your students?
To help facilitate learning, teachers gain an understanding of where their students are at and, with a clear goal in mind, what they need to do next. They illustrate the desired goal state – what it looks like, good and not so good examples. They provide guidance and opportunities for practice, and they provide feedback on progress toward the goal. There is a sad irony in that teachers rarely receive the same support and feedback for their own learning.
We want to try and change that.
Autonomy, feedback and purpose
A car’s satnav indicates where you are and provides information to help you arrive at your destination. It doesn’t tell you how to drive. You’re in control, but it does provide direction to help you along the way.
In the context of this metaphor, the journey to improving teaching practice starts with a kind of map or model. In this case, it is the forthcoming report - a credible summary of the elements of great teaching practice, the kind that impacts most on learning. Following the publication of this report, we will develop and release a set of instruments to help teachers anonymously assess their strengths and identify their own development priorities. The same tools will provide diagnostic formative feedback as they work on specific goals to improve their practice. Although teaching is an extremely complex set of skills and definitely not just a set of techniques or recipes, taking a specific technique, skill or area of knowledge and practising to a high level of proficiency is a key way to improve overall effectiveness.
Finally, in this endeavor, we aim to identify the kind of professional development that leads to improvement in specific areas of practice. This stage of the project will require a community of thousands of educators like you, working towards a shared aim. Our strong, overarching goal here is to help teachers take ownership of their professional learning and to help them enhance their practice for the benefit of students.
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