Tagged: Teachers

Social Media for Learning in Higher Education #SocMedHE15

#SocMedHE15 is the inaugural Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference, a one day conference, hosted by Sheffield Hallam University. The conference will debate and examine our use of social media and its impact on the higher education learning landscape. Together, we will develop our understanding of good, sustainable practice by sharing accounts of emerging innovation in the pedagogic use of social media. Further details here can be found on the conference website.

I am delighted to present a paper (due Feb, 2016) titled: Social Media as a Professional Medium: an equilibrium of enthusiasm and protection for student teachers.

This paper explores the use of social media within a blended mode of study. Specifically, it aims to consider the professional use of online social contexts to support teaching and encourage collaboration between learners. It will illustrate some factors intended to protect their digital identities, confidence and online well-being.

The University of Glasgow School of Education recently established a blended learning course at undergraduate level (initial teacher education). It was the overall aim of the course to expose 70 students to an eclectic mix of exciting ideas within education. This was designed to challenge them. Delivered through the virtual learning environment (VLE), students and teaching staff were expected to engage in professional dialogue by blogging and participating in discussion through social networking platforms such as Twitter (see: Hashtag #MEduc14 #MEduc15). The course aims to enable students to demonstrate understanding of the foundational content and values of education and to be able to articulate a personal stance towards the discipline. It aims to enable them to engage with conventional and new modes of communication as well as facilitating personal confidence and collaborative styles of working. As part of their assessment, students must evidence their online collaboration through the production of both verbal and visual media e.g. YouTube, WordPress, Instagram etc.

In creating this culture of online discussion and in encouraging students to use Twitter and to write blogs, the course takes a pragmatic look on the use of social media as a professional medium and seeks to protect the newly created digital identities of the students as they begin their career as school teachers.

The paper draws from an evidence-based approach and presents data captured through the wider evaluation of the course to describe the use of social media in this context from the perspective of both the course tutors and the students. Crucially, it makes a series of suggestions which other educators may wish to consider when encouraging students to create virtual learning networks and digital media for teaching, learning and collaboration.

My conference presentation can be downloaded here: Presentation.

Preparing teachers for inclusive education

One of the main challenges for teacher education is posed by the demands of inclusive education but little attention has been paid to this important topic. Global disparities in educational provision, and differences in teacher education and teacher qualifications within and between countries, exacerbate inequality in educational opportunity. While the form and structure of teacher education may vary from one country to another, some common issues and challenges in providing a good quality basic education for all remain largely unaddressed.

The articles in this volume of Prospects focus on theoretical issues of curriculum, assessment, and teaching, and on issues of teacher professional learning. They explore how theoretical concepts associated with the development of inclusive practice are being addressed in different world regions. The issue will be of particular relevance to teachers, teacher educators, and policy makers around the world, as the role, value, and relevance of teacher education is being questioned, not only in terms of teachers’ professional preparation, but also because of questions about educational outcomes for students and the extent to which teachers are able to meet the needs of all learners.

Download this edition of prospects by clicking here…

GTCS Consultation: Framework on Teacher Competence

The General Teaching Council Scotland is consulting on proposed changes to the Code of Practice on Teacher Competence (CPTC), which has been in force since September 2002. It is intended to rename the CPTC as the Framework on Teacher Competence (FTC).

The new FTC provides a more detailed background and context and sets out its purpose and scope more clearly than its predecessor. It also clarifies that the FTC applies only to fully registered teachers, as there are different and separate provisions to manage under-performance of provisionally registered teachers.

The FTC also complies with the provisions and terminology of the Order, in particular the changes required as a result of the new Fitness to Teach framework.

It is proposed no longer to include a full copy of the SFR with the FTC.  This is proposed on the proviso that clear web link references to the current SFR are included within the FTC itself.

The reasons for this change are to:

  • make the FTC itself a more concise and focused document
  • ensure that the FTC is ‘future-proofed’ and include reference to the most up-to-date version of the SFR

The Proposals in detail

Stage 1

  1. Stage 1 should be renamed “Preliminary” (previously “Informal” in CPTC). This is for sake of clarity and also to better reflect the nature of the Stage 1 process.
  2. A new part (a) has been introduced for the purpose of clarity and fairness.

Stage 2

A new part (a) has been introduced for the purpose of clarity and fairness.

Stage 3

No changes.

Stage 4

This section has been amended to reflect the wording of the Order and of the GTC Scotland Fitness to Teach and Appeals Rules 2012. 

You can download the draft FTC here. Details on consultation can be found on www.gtcs.org.uk

Scottish Education – The Front End vs The Back End

Following from my previous article, here are some random ramblings on Curriculum for Excellence. I’ll produce another article later this week with my concluding thoughts.

Mixed messages and a lack of clarity around the broader implications that CfE brings to education has lead to some misinterpretation. Many teachers still believe that it is all about changing the national qualifications and the assessment criteria, albeit with a splash of contemporary learning and teaching thrown in. With many stresses on the daily routine, finding time to plan and deliver a cooperative lesson or plan interdisciplinary learning across the curriculum is challenging. Yes, where relevant, appropriate and timely – this is a great way of reinforcing a particular lesson; articulating aspects of the curriculum and connecting skills so that they young person’s learning is progressive, integrated and that the experience is not easily forgotten. Unfortunately, there are a few major barriers which are preventing progress within Scottish Education.

Educational leaders, as public managers are accountable to their local authority. The majority are not taking the managed risks that are needed to break the cycle of tradition which is halting progress. This is not their fault, but is a fundamental paradox within the system itself. We have done to CfE, exactly what we wanted to avoid. Tinkering around the edges and enhancing what I call the ‘front end’ of the learning and teaching process. We’ve done an exemplary job here – but it only goes so far. The ‘back end’ of the system, the inspections, the accountability and the qualifications process which is required for university entry is stagnant and rigid. There is little flexibility and as such this transfers to the classroom.

There is a misconception that everything needs an evidence base – it must be measured recorded and evaluated. I wonder what the purpose of that process is? Is it to monitor and track the young person or is it to appease the inspector when they knock on the door? An independent General Teaching Council for Scotland is raising the standard for full and continued registration; yet there remains an inherent lack of trust between the Government, it’s executive agencies, local authorities and teachers. This is then passed down between parents and carers, pupils and teachers and places schools between a rock and a hard place. The impact of recession has not helped either – changing teacher’s terms and conditions and messing about with pensions during such a sensitive time has enlarged the expanding gulf – reinforcing the ‘them and us’ mentaility which prevents creative, innovative approaches. Not many people are willing to stick their heads above the parapet these days and we have fallen to a culture of standardising standards and writing a policy for policy making. There are many teachers who, given the chance, would do things differently if they were not bound by red tape and mis targetted accountability.

I for one, don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do have the guts to ask some questions. Why do we need an inspectorate of education? Schools go through the self-evaluation process and they are then held to account – based on evidence and statistics. I’d like to see an education system which measures the longer term outcomes of a young person, not when the leave school at the age of 16, 17 or 18 with a fistful of qualifications. To me, that means very little and it certainly does not reflect the improvements in life chances that we must focus upon. Unfortunately, it takes a brave Government to put aside the immediate story telling – required to win elections, and embed a system of education which realises the potential of a young person well after the term of office has completed. I do not like to drive statistics for the sake of telling a story. If we get it right for every child and young person, the numbers will improve as a result.

Whilst removing inspection and revitalising the statistical infrastructure which underpins Scotland Peforms and the national targets, I recognise that curriculum evaluation is important for many reasons. It provides an opportunity for identifying the strengths and weaknesses of an education system so that it can be analysed against an agreed vision and quality criteria. It also informs policy makers and stakeholders with regard to the changes/reforms needed for enhancing the quality of education inputs, processes and outcomes. Moreover, curriculum evaluation points to the capacities to be developed for enhancing the quality of curriculum design, writing and implementation. We need the ability to test, analyse and measure the learning system : adaptability, responsiveness and effectiveness to meet the changing needs of children and young people. This must be embedded into learning and teaching whilst supporting individuals through a modern approach to integrated services, incorporating education, social work and health etc. An education performance framework requires robust monitoring of both the individual and collective progress of children and young people and their achievements: measuring progress throughout the learner’s journey and recognising their outcomes upon leaving school, an episode of learning and when reaching the end of the extended school curriculum.

To this end, I propose a two tier, national framework to measure the success of the education system. This should be based on Integrated Services Performance – the lead indicators which measure across the entire portfolio of services; building capacity and promoting accountability. These should be embedded in a culture of continuous improvement and measured through community partnership planning and local government agreements, and: Organisational Performance – the supplementary indicators which measure schools, colleges and individual services, in the more traditional sense; and promote the need to be more responsive in planning and delivering the curriculum, providing young people with better educational experiences. Such a framework must remove the focus of attainment results in S4, 5 and 6 and instead look across the holistic outcomes. This means removing the current Standard Tables and Charts system and replacing it with a new senior phase benchmarking tool.

Effective Methods of Teaching

The International Bureau of Education has now published a booklet about the most effective methods of teaching. Produced by the International Academy of Education, it presents research-based principles of teaching (or instruction). These principles come from three sources: (a) research on how the brain acquires and uses new information; (b) research on the classroom practices of those teachers whose students show the highest attainment; and (c) findings from studies related to students’ learning strategies. Suggestions for classroom practice are also included.

Even though this booklet is based on research carried out primarily in economically advanced countries, it focuses on aspects of language learning and instruction that are universal. Therefore, the suggested practices are likely to be generally applicable throughout the world.

I’ve provided a hyperlink to the full publication below. Here is a brief overview of the principles, which I have re-worked slightly (and not an exhaustive list – I can think of other things that should be listed here). Most of them are (to my reckoning) logical and common sense. They’ll be recognised by most teachers but it’s good to see them listed as evidenced based research. The publication contains more detail on each of them.

  •   Principles of effective teaching:
    • Begin each lesson with a re-cap of previous learning;
    • Present each section in small chunks and allow for consolidation of learning following each input;
    • Limit the amount of lesson material handed to pupils – this needs to be ‘de-chunked’;
    • Gives clear and detailed instructions – make sure that everyone understands what your expectations are;
    • Ask (and invite) questions to check understanding;
    • Provide a significant amount of practice to reinforce learning;
    • Provide guidance, support and advice;
    • Think out loud and model concepts into context appropriate to the learner;
    • Provide solution based models;
    • Ask pupils to explain what they have learned;
    • Check feedback from all pupils;
    • ALWAYS provide feedback on progress and learning;
    • Use time efficiently to provide examples;
    • Re-teach parts of the lesson if needed;
    • Prepare pupils for assessments and further practice;
    • Monitor and track the progress of all pupils.

Download The Principles of Instruction (.pdf 210 KB)

Scotland – Teacher’s Performance to be Monitored?

I recently read an article in the Herald, by Andrew Denholm, Education Correspondent. It seems that the Scottish Council of Economic Advisors (SCEA) has reported a series of measures to “to improve the quality of education in Scottish schools in cost-effective ways”.

In a nutshell, incompetent teachers should be sacked using a performance management system, similar to those employed in the business world. In June, The Herald revealed that  just two of Scotland’s 52,000 teachers have been sacked for incompetence in the past three years.

“The quality of teachers must be measured, good teachers must be recognised and rewarded and ineffective teachers must leave the profession,” the report adds.

In the case that you’ve never heard of the SCEA, The Council essentially has three priorities:

  • Advise the First Minister directly about the best way to improve Scotland’s sustainable economic growth;
  • Have quarterly meetings following the publication of the quarterly growth figures;
  • Publish an annual report providing expert commentary on the Scottish economy.

The unions and other prominent organisations, including the GTCS, insist that there are already vigourous systems in place to ensure that those teaching the next generation are of the highest calibre, and that education in Scotland is regarded internationally as one of the best.

I wonder, just what impact such an appraisal may have on the front line? I recall, not that long ago, a number of stats being published in the USA, forcing several close colleagues to fear for their lives (not literally, of course).

I’m going to remain impartial here (see my boring disclaimer). Remember, this is simply an advisory note – not policy.

Here’s a link to Andrew’s article; have a read and if you’re interested, dig a bit deeper for detail. I’ll leave the opinion’s to you guys… Pros and Cons of Performance Monitoring… would it drive standards or is it best left alone?