Unprofessional misjudgement

2017-03-01T14:50:08+00:00March 1st, 2017|research|

No, I’m not using evidence, but I’m not using prejudice either. I am exercising my professional judgement. Sue Cowley It doesn’t make a difference how beautiful your guess is. It doesn’t make a difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is. If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. Richard Feynman A few days ago I wrote about why we shouldn't credulously accept evidence, and that it wasn't as simple as suggesting that teachers either use evidence or prejudice to inform their decision. We are all guilty of using prejudice whether or not we use evidence. [...]

Marking is an act of folly

2016-12-04T17:26:15+00:00November 30th, 2016|leadership|

Contrary to popular belief, marking and feedback are not the same thing. Clearly they're connected - and, ideally most marking has the intention of giving feedback - but the process of marking or giving marks does not, in and of itself, equate with feedback. Those who see marking as an essential component of a teachers' role should wonder why, in many parts of the world - particularly east Asian countries which seem to do very well in international comparisons - teachers do not routinely mark students' work. If it were essential this would not be possible. Anglophone countries - and the UK [...]

Bottom sets and the scourge of low-level disruption

2016-11-14T21:10:57+00:00November 14th, 2016|behaviour|

In many English schools, low-level disruption is the norm. Children talking when expected to be silent, fiddling with equipment and each other, calling out, and generally not being 'on task' are all routinely accepted as just something with which teachers have to contend. In 2014, Ofsted published this report on low-level disruption in schools. It it, "around two-fifths of the 723 teachers in the survey who believed that disruptive ‘talking and chatting’ was a key problem said it occurred in almost every lesson." The entire concept of 'behaviour management' is predicated on the idea that teachers must manage students' inevitable disruptive [...]

What are ‘thinking skills’ and can we teach them?

2017-02-23T23:08:15+00:00November 9th, 2016|research|

...from a purely theoretical standpoint alone, it hardly seems plausible that a strategy of inquiry that must necessarily be broad enough to be applicable to a wide range of disciplines and problems can ever have, at the same time, sufficient particular relevance to be helpful in the solution of the specific problem at hand. David Ausubel It's tempting to believe that if we teach children how to think, then they'll think better. After all, when we teach children to read, then they read better and when we teach them to juggle then they get better at juggling. Why should thinking be any different? Well, [...]

A marked decline? The EEF’s review of the evidence on written marking

2016-05-19T10:45:32+01:00May 18th, 2016|assessment|

Question: How important is it for teachers to provide written feedback on students' work? Answer: No one knows. This is essentially the substance of the Education Endowment Foundation's long-awaited review on written marking. The review begins with the following admission: ...the review found a striking disparity between the enormous amount of effort invested in marking books, and the very small number of robust studies that have been completed to date. While the evidence contains useful findings, it is simply not possible to provide definitive answers to all the questions teachers are rightly asking. [my emphasis] But then they go and spoil it all by [...]

Is it what you do or the way that you do it?

2018-11-26T16:29:29+00:00January 23rd, 2016|research|

Alex Quigley has just responded to my post Two Stars and a Bloody Wish! with the revelation that it works for him and others: Using a ‘Two Stars and a Wish’ model ironically meant that many teachers were writing more concise comments and spending less time on marking than before. Rather than proving a waste of time as David Didau suggests, it was saving time for many (teachers weren’t beholden to two wishes each time and there was seldom ‘lavish praise’). Well, good. If using a particular marking structure does actually save teachers time then who am I to criticise? Alex goes on to say [...]

Marking and feedback are not the same

2016-05-24T13:47:04+01:00September 19th, 2015|workload|

Feedback is, we're told, the most powerfully important invention in which a teacher can engage, but marking students' books can be mind-numbingly tedious drudgery. Because of this tension, many schools have introduced strict marking policies and work scrutiny schedules to make sure that teachers don't shirk this crucial responsibility. But, the more I think about it, the more convinced I am becoming that marking and feedback are two quite separate things. Cambridge Dictionaries Online defines marking thusly: And here are two different definitions for feedback: Obviously, this doesn't prove anything other than that in the public mind, marking and feedback are considered [...]

20 psychological principles for teachers #7 Self-regulation

2015-06-01T21:24:13+01:00May 31st, 2015|psychology|

In this, the seventh in a series of posts examining a report on the Top 20 Principles From Psychology for Teaching and Learning, I take a closer look at Principle 7: "Students’ self-regulation assists learning, and self-regulatory skills can be taught." Before getting into the thorny matter of whether self-regulation can be taught, we need to be clear about what we actually mean by the term. Rather than attempting a definition, the report merely says self-regulation helps students to master curriculum content and includes, "attention, organization, self-control, planning, and memory strategies". Psychologists define self-regulation as the ability to control our behaviour and impulses in [...]

Are we fetishising marking?

2014-11-14T08:10:13+00:00November 14th, 2014|learning|

When you make something a fetish, ashes and dusts will laugh at you, because they know even the most valuable fetishes will turn into dusts and ashes! Mehmet Murat ildan Last night I innocently posted the following tweet:   This sparked something of a debate. A number of people got in touch to tell me this was 'bonkers' and a 'complete waste of money'. Other responses ranged from cautious interest to overwhelming support. But by far the biggest objection was the assertion that marking is an essential aspect of planning: if teachers don't know how pupils are performing then future teaching will [...]

Go to Top