For the past seven years I’ve been working as a freelance training provider and consultant. Most of the work I get comes either from word-of-mouth recommendations, or because someone has seen me speak or read something I’ve written. The majority of the work I do is in English schools – both primary and secondary (although I also seem to get a fair bit of work in Sweden and the Netherlands) and it tends to take two distinct forms; I either spend a day speaking to teachers about some aspect of education, or I spend a longer period working with teachers to improve some aspect of their practice.
The first sort of work I get – speaking engagements – tend to be either whole school training days where I speak to a school’s staff on a range of topics including implementing findings from cognitive psychology in teaching, behaviour management, understanding education research and evidence, memory, whole-school literacy (sometimes just reading or writing), feedback, assessment & marking, and, increasingly, curriculum design and implementation. Whenever I do one of these days I always offer a session for SLT to discuss how they might go about implementing the ideas I’ve spent the day talking about. I also get asked to speak at conferences – often for groups of headteachers – and this usually tends to be focussed on one of the books I’ve written.
The other sort of work I get is where a school asks me to spend an extended period working with them on a particular issue, or to work with a cohort of teachers to help them improve. Over the years I’ve worked with schools on a variety of different topics including assessment, curriculum, literacy, feedback, and working with newly and recently qualified teachers. Some of my favourite projects include collaborating with schools and MATS on:
- helping to change the reading culture amongst students (I’ve written about this here.)
- overhauling the systems used for internal assessments (based on this 4 part series of blogs.)
- rethinking accountability systems to help create a culture where it is easier for teachers to thrive. (I’ve written about this here.)
- spending a year embedded in an English department where I helped design a new KS3 English curriculum, and work with teachers on their teaching practice. During the year I also helped organise a researchED event at the school.
- writing text books for units of work on the Odyssey, Beowulf, Julius Caesar and The Canterbury Tales.
- I also spent 2 years designing and teaching as English Studies course for the sadly short-lived BPP PGCE. (I wrote about the course here.)
One of my favourite approaches to working with teachers on improving aspects of practice is to have them observe me teaching their class for part or all of a lesson before I observe them. This isn’t always possible but I’ve managed it successfully in a range of different contents, phases and subject areas. I particularly enjoy modelling in primary schools and have taught lessons on slow writing, structured discussion, vocabulary instruction, as well as small group work on fluency assessments. In secondary schools I’ve mostly taught model English lessons but have also been asked to turn my hand to most of the other subjects. This is something I was initially sceptical about, but I’ve found that if I work with a teacher to plan the lesson and they’re present to deal with the inevitable limitations of my subject knowledge, things usually work well. (I written about this process here.)
If you would like me to speak at a training event or to work with your school over a longer period on any of these topics – or indeed anything else – do please get in touch. (See the links to email and phone at the top of the page.)