Yesterday I published a blog post which was fairly critical of ‘poundland pedagogy’, in particular of one use of it which asked a teacher to use a pair of plastic sporks in a lesson, then pass on their ideas of how the items could be used to colleagues, before collecting another item.
On reflection, I think the reason that I found this instance quite so ridiculous was the combination of the (almost) useless items that had been given to the teacher, and the time that had then gone in to thinking of how to shoehorn it in to a lesson(s). Time is a hugely valuable commodity to teachers, and this fact seemed to have been ignored here. Of equal value is trust – trust in teachers to know how to teach their classes and students in order to allow them to progress and learn in engaging, relevant lessons.
This is not to say, however that there is no way that this approach could work. @ASTSupportAAli sent me a link to a post on his blog about how he has used ‘poundland pedagogy’ to good effect in his practice (http://t.co/c1Y8hThQhH) for which I thank him. I am also not of the view that we cannot incorporate new techniques and ideas into our established practice in order to benefit our students. Where I am sceptical, though, is of whole school implementation of new ideas such as that I set out, which force teachers to apply an idea to their subject, rather than applying the subject to a new idea.
The idea (teaching technique) is the vehicle to deliver the knowledge or skill in the planned lesson – but the process must start with the knowledge or skill, not the idea.
So, my plan for how to try and develop T&L, but not place onerous demands on the time and trust of teachers would be:
1: Introduce new ideas/techniques appropriately in CPD sessions, and allow staff time in these sessions to consider possible applications.
2: Don’t expect all departments/staff to want to introduce a new teaching style/activity in the same way – and don’t assume their lack of desire is due to not wishing to innovate. Start from the position that it wouldn’t benefit their students if they don’t want to do it (there are of course ways to work with staff who are not teaching appropriate, engaging lessons)
3: Allow staff time to work with each other to develop T&L strategies, either through coaching, peer observation, joint planning time and so on; but don’t stipulate what the strategies and activities will be or look like at the end of work such as this.
4: Encourage staff to network – Twitter and blogging are good (if you’re reading this you probably already think that!), and there are a whole world of ideas out there that can be used to develop practice.
5: If something is to be requested to be used in lessons, consider the evidence that is behind any new idea that is introduced. Has it been used and found to benefit students, or will it go the way of brain gym?