Building upon our successful #TeachMeets we are delighted to announce our first every #LeadershipMeet which will take place at Bristol Brunel Academy on Thursday 22nd January 2015: 17:00 – 20:00.
The event is being organised by Matt Leek (PE teacher & Director of the CLF Elite Rugby programme). As a result of Matt’s remarkable work building a squad of academic rugby players from across a federation of schools, we are delighted to announce Andy Robinson OBE as the keynote speaker for the event. Andy has agreed to discuss how he manages big personalities in elite sport and being a former teacher he’s able to make clear connections with school leadership.
If you are an aspiring leader, already in a school leadership position or interested in developing your capacity as a leader from any background – this event is for you!
17:00 – REGISTER – Tea/coffee/food – networking.
17:45 – INTRODUCTION – Matt Leek (CLF Elite rugby/PE teacher)
17:50 – KEYNOTE 1 – Mike Hall & Gary Townsend (Bristol Rugby Academy)
18:10 – KEYNOTE 2 – Richard Bryan (Rugby Director RPA)
18:30 – BREAK
18:45 – KEYNOTE 3 – Andy Robinson OBE
19:30 – Q&A PANEL – Andy Robinson OBE, Richard Bryan, Mike Hall, Gary Townsend, Mitch Eadie, Ellis Genge.
20:00 – FINISH
As every school does we wanted to improve the quality of T&L and I am a firm believer in doing this through the sharing of good practice, as we have, and had, loads of great practitioners in school in lots of different departments. To share all of the ‘gems’ that everyone had in their toolkits we put together ‘Robert Blake’s Best Bits’ which is a collection of all the bits that make our teaching great. We asked every member of staff to contribute at least one idea that could be used generically by other staff in other subjects around the school, all of which were completed on a common format of a powerpoint slide. These were then collated, organised into different sections and shared with staff. Immediately we had helped create a culture where people were more open about sharing their teaching and helping others. The off-spring of this was we had more staff doing learning walks to see these gems in action in the classroom and T&L took on a greater priority with staff.
Resource. NSL TeachMeet presentation (PDF)
From this we wanted to further embed the culture of sharing T&L so we created the ‘Learning Lunches’ where every fortnight we would put on a buffet (£1.50 per head!) for teachers where 3 ideas from RBBB would be presented and explained. This led to a huge uptake in the ideas and the resultant conversations that were generated as a result of seeing the idea. Our SENCo then developed the idea for LSAs (as we couldn’t fit all staff in our food room where we have the Learning Lunches!) as they have a Learning Breakfast every fortnight, during PSHE lessons, to share their best practice.
The beauty of RBBB is that any one person can initiate and develop the idea. As a class teacher you can create your own ‘best bits’ then begin to share with other people, hopefully making the scheme whole-school. The Learning Lunches can happen informally without providing lunch for staff but putting on the buffet is hugely appreciated by staff who value the school’s commitment to developing T&L.
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Feedback. Please let us know how ‘Learning lunches’ worked for you. Leave a comment on this post or tweet us at @nslhub.
Great teachers by Chris Hildrew – @chrishildrew
What makes an outstanding lesson? And who decides? Ofsted set out their criteria for evaluating the quality of teaching and learning in an institution as a whole. In their School Inspection Handbook, footnote 42, it says:
“These grade descriptors describe the quality of teaching in the school as a whole, taking account of evidence over time. While they include some characteristics of individual lessons, they are not designed to be used to judge individual lessons.”
We know that plenty of schools ignore this and adapt the criteria to apply them to individual lessons – for some very understandable reasons. We also know that this leads to teachers teaching “observation specials” to try and jump through the hoops of the taken-out-of- context criteria. You can read about the impact of this in @cazzypot’s blog: Is Michael Gove lying to us all? and in @BarryNSmith79’s Lesson Objectives, Good Practice, and What Really Matters.
Let’s start again.
A typical teacher’s directed time is 760 hours in a year. How many of those will be formally observed by someone else – three? Five? Ten? Whatever the number, there’s a lot of hours in a year when it’s just you and your learners in the room. Forget outstanding. Think about a great lesson you’ve taught – not a lesson where someone else was watching, but one of those lessons where it all worked. Where you and the kids left the room bathed in the warm glow of achievement. Where teaching felt really, really good. What were the ingredients? What made it work? And which of those features can you replicate in your classroom on Monday? If you were to start with a blank sheet of paper, how would you define a great lesson?
And, if that’s a great lesson, what are the qualities of a great teacher? And how can we live them in the classroom for all 760 hours of the year?
If we want are students to amaze us we must first amaze them with our relentless, endless pursuit of learning. The role of a teacher offers the greatest opportunity in the world coupled with a complex set of responsibilities. The moment we stop reflecting on our practice, the moment we settle, is the moment we veer dangerously close to mediocrity. It’s the commitment we make as teachers to never stop learning that will build good habits, develop great teachers and ultimately move the lives of the young people in our care forward.
Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better.
The above quote from Dylan Wiliam was one of the reasons that led me to start Never Stop Learning. I wanted to encourage colleagues to reflect on what they were doing and offer some help in doing that. So I founded this idea upon the following principles (via Jamie Smart):
Last night at the first annual Never Stop Learning teach-meet #TMNSL over 150 teachers from around the south-west (and beyond) volunteered for the opportunity to exercise and experience the above three principles to deepen their understanding. When remarkable people congregate in one place with a shared vision for improvement, something magical happens that is difficult to measure but very much experienced.
The people who think they are crazy enough to change the world are the ones who do.
The evening began with a truly inspirational keynote from Hywel Roberts. I’ve seen Hywel speak at a few events and he never fails to send his audience away with lots to think about and a renewed vigour for teaching great lessons. He speaks at a very personal level which is engaging, heartfelt and also very funny – a perfect way to start any teach-meet! Hywel is perfectly summed up in his website address – Create | Learn | Inspire – please pay it a visit.
The keynote was followed by a series of 10 workshops offering a wide selection of opportunities from leading whole school change to differentiation to using video for CPD. All workshops were planned and delivered by teachers committed to making a positive change, spreading their influence beyond just the school in which they teach. The typicality of comments coming from people who attended followed this theme…
The crazy ones responsible for delivering expert workshops at #TMNSL were:
Chris Hildrew – @chrishildrew – ‘Great teachers.’
Amjad Ali – @ASTSupportAAli – ‘Creativity in the classroom.’
David Morgan – @lessonhacker – ‘Stop doing IT wrong.’
David Bunker – @mr_bunker_edu – ‘Teach like a champion.’
Dr Dan Nicholls – @BristolBrunel – ‘Leading change in schools.’
Chris Moyse – @chrismoyse – ‘Differentiation.’
Mat Pullen – @mat6453 – ‘Solo Taxonomy.’
Kate Heath & R Escourt – @artedu_kheath – ‘Practical ways to show progress over time.’
The workshops were followed by further opportunities to connect with others and share discoveries through a series of micro presentations, opened up by the powerfully motivating Action Jackson – @ActionJackson (leader of the FixUpTeam). This was a remarkable second half to the evening with lots of teachers still going strong at 19:30 on a rainy Thursday evening in the middle of March. What followed was a series of short presentations that included lots of tips, ideas to think about and consider coupled with motivation and encouragement to continue to explore the role and practice of teaching.
The crazy ones responsible for presenting were:
@ActionJackson – You are AMAZING!
@edubaker – The behaviour triangle.
@hrogerson – Confidence grids.
@theheadsoffice – Improving writing through blogging.
@ASTSupportAAli – Teaching tips & tricks.
@sporteredu – The ace of… spades, clubs, diamonds or hearts.
@leading_in_pe – Plenaries – voting with your feet.
@mrgmorrison – Robert Blakes best bits & learning lunches.
@lessonhacker – Mid-term lesson planning.
@cgould6 – Working with newly arrived EAL students.
There was a great buzz and atmosphere throughout the evening which was down to the excellent calibre of speakers / presenters and the amazing audience who supported and engaged throughout. The evening was captured brilliantly through the artwork of David Jesus Virnolli.
Thoughts have already entered my mind for the next #TMNSL. Over the coming weeks I will endeavour to share, in more depth the ideas from the workshops in a series of shorter posts. Whether you attended #TMNSL or not I implore you to take time to reflect on your practice, re-visit your moral purpose regularly and make a pledge to never stop learning.
Thank you to our sponsors for the evening!
I try to lead by challenging preconceived notions that people are born talented or lucky. In Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code: Greatness isn’t born it’s Grown he argues that talent is grown through purposeful practice…deep practice. Below I give a specific example of how this can be seen in students’ learning.
“We all have the ability to profoundly change our levels of talent, our level of skill. Where clusters of great talent emerge there has been a culture created where individuals are constantly reaching and repeating, making mistakes, receiving feedback, building better brains, faster more fluent brains…inside the brain myelin acts like insulation on the pathways and connections in the brain – each time we reach and repeat we earn another layer – signal speeds in the brain start to increase from 2 mph to 200 mph – neuro broadband – (or the difference between normal and great).” (Dan Coyle)
What he is describing is the hardwiring of the brain – through repeated efforts, mistakes and improvement, until the action (or learning) becomes as natural as riding a bike. That is how talent is created.
This recently became really evident to me during a lesson observation of my Y12 Sociology class: one observer sat next to a student and asked her to deconstruct the exam question we were looking at (having heard me used the word ‘deconstruct’ in my instructions). I was amazed, and pleased, to hear her deconstruct the question effortlessly, without hesitation and to depth, drawing on prior knowledge, pulling out command words, key subject-specific words and implied meaning behind the question in a thorough analysis that was no less deep than if I had done it. I realised then that her success in that skill (which she hadn’t been able to do at the start of the year) came from the fact that this was how we started every topic that we studied: with an exam question that we deconstruct thoroughly. Essentially, us practising this skill at the start of every topic had resulted in it becoming ‘hardwired’ in her brain so that she could effortlessly pull it out no matter what the topic or question. Deconstructing an exam question is a transferable skill so I hope that she is able to make use of it in her other subjects as well.
This message of repeating to hardwire your brain is exactly what I’m trying to get across to Y8 in my assemblies, preparing them for their mid-year exams, and reminding them that determined and deliberate effort = success.
Here’s another useful resource, Dan Coyle’s TED talk…
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Having taken on more line management duties this year I have been thinking about the quality of the line management meetings and how they serve to develop leaders. Our approach to leadership at Bristol Brunel strives for Leader – Leader relationships (David Marquet) and, as such, relies on the person being line managed to use language such as “I intend to …. Because…” rather than “ Can I do….”. A link to David Marquet’s TED talk “How Great Leaders Serve Others” is below:
The GROW model has been used successfully to improve colleagues teaching through coaching, our Assistant Principal Gemma Williams spent some time telling me about how the coaching model she used works. A summary is below:
I found this list of simple questions to be particularly useful during coaching sessions:
What do you want to achieve?
What is important to you right now?
What areas do you want to work on?
Describe your preferred future for this area.
What do you want to achieve as a result?
Where are you now in relation to your goal?
On a scale of 1 -10 where are you?
What progress have you made so far?
What is working well right now?
What are your options?
How have you tacked this/ a similar situation before?
What could you do differently?
Who do you know who has encountered a similar situation?
Give me 5 options
If anything was possible what would you do?
Which options work best for you?
What actions will you take?
When are you going to start?
Who will help you?
How will you know you have been successful?
It is early days yet in terms of me using this model in Line Management meetings, however, I believe strongly that this will provide my colleagues with a few key outcomes:
– A clarity of thought process for both of us when discussing challenges, building capacity to solve problems and move to action.
– Reducing my automatic response to try and solve problems for people.
– Explore more rigorously together all possible options before moving to action.
– A commitment to clear actions based on an analysis of the most appropriate solution.
– Ownership of the change and improvement journey.
I look forward to seeing and feeling the impact of this approach to line management meetings.
Feedback. Please let us know if you found this post useful. Leave a comment on this post or tweet us at @nslhub.
“The truth is that only a tiny fraction of people get lucky.” (Gove, 2013)
This week Simon Cowell said: “I didn’t work hard when I was at school. I left at 16 and I didn’t have any qualifications. I was useless. The secret is to be useless at school and then get lucky.” Gove responded: “This is an irresponsible and stupid thing to say. Teachers strive every day to ensure children understand the importance of learning, hard work and discipline. Simon Cowell’s comments undermine their efforts. The truth is that only a tiny fraction of people get lucky.”
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’ he describes the importance of opportunity and circumstance in becoming successful,“Success is not a random act. It arises out of a predictable and powerful set of circumstances and opportunities.” (Gladwell) – the contrast with Cowell is that opportunity is one part of the success equation. Opportunity is nothing without Grit or the“persistence, doggedness and the willingness to work hard for twenty-two minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after thirty seconds.” (Gadwell)
A short insight into outliers, 10,000 hours and what makes people successful is provided in this interview of Gladwell:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hz4hPbHIZ6Y – it ends with Gladwell urging, “society to build institutions that provide opportunities to work hard.” …it is opportunity that is seized that creates success not chance or luck or talent alone.
David Beckham provides an excellent example. Whilst at Man Utd Under 15 Academy, he spent every school holiday in Manchester. Like many other successful individuals Beckham had four things, opportunity, competition from like-minded individuals, GRIT and deliberate practice…he writes:
“The incredible thing about that generation of lads, who came into the youth team (1. opportunity) with me in 1991, is that they were committed to hard training, as I ever was. We couldn’t get enough of it. Gary and Phil Neville had a Dad whose basic motto was ‘give everything and you will reap the rewards.’ At the end of practice, while most of the older lads were sitting in the canteen with their feet up, Gary was still pounding the ball against the wall… I already had a strong work ethic because of my family background (rise review – background counts four times more than school attended). Practice was like second nature. But with these guys (the Nevilles, Giggsy, Nicky Butt, Scholsey) (2. competition from like-minded individuals) I knew I had to take it to another level, to put in the extra shifts, to leave nothing to chance. We had to show commitment like never before…and that is exactly what we did. (3. GRIT) …the more we practiced the better we became. Soon we were overtaking the older boys who were realising, a little to late, that they had taken things to easy… It wasn’t just the quantity of practice, it was the incredible focus on quality. (4. deliberative practice)” (David Beckham, 2013)
Even with opportunity, only effort and commitment over time (GRIT) combined with practice that is …”intentional, aimed at improving performance, designed for your current skill level, combined with immediate feedback and repetitious.” (Malcolm Gladwell) … will allow individuals to succeed, to become over-performers based on their context and background and to be outliers.
At our Bristol Brunel Academy it is precisely these conditions that will allow us to over-perform and create an Academy of Outliers;
- Opportunity (getting teaching and learning right – teaching that is… intentional, aimed at improving performance, designed for your current skill level, combined with immediate feedback and repetitious?
- Competition from like-minded individuals (Peer groups, ethos, language, aspiration, pastoral support, House system?) – growing an epidemic of strong work ethic.
- GRIT (an ethos of possibility for all through effort) Outliers focus on long term goals, ignoring short-term distractions. – they are unswervingly future-focused.
- Deliberative practise approach… learn-revise-test-feedback-learn…marginal gains increasingly creating outliers compared to starting points.
Whilst in the world of celebrity the role of luck maybe high; we live in a world that requires a series of conditions to exist and an attitude and approach that enables individuals to succeed. At Brunel we are increasingly providing, supporting and developing these enabling conditions and opportunity … indeed we cannot afford not to secure over-performance, to buck-the-trend and to create an Academy of OUTLIERS.
“To build a better Academy we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks, context and arbitrary advantages that determine success…with an Academy that provides opportunities and the conditions for all to feel success.” (Malcolm Gladwell, adapted).
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Dr D Nicholls