Flying with Geese

I was very lucky to have the opportunity to attend the "Flying with Geese" masterclass in Glasgow today.  Dylan William and Graham Donaldson spoke. It would be futile to attempt to summarise the day, but here are some interesting points that stuck in my head:

  • Having identified the strengths and weaknesses of a teacher, the research shows that the best way to elicit improvement in their professional performance is to focus on trying to further improve their strengths, rather than trying to fix their weaknesses (unless the weaknesses are really bad!)
  • Creativity, problem solving and critical thinking are not generalisable. Rather than trying to teach these (or any other) skills separately, we should use these terms as audit tools within disciplines.
  • Content from disciplines must be strong within topic work, and be directed by teachers.  Left to their own devices, learners will not bring worthwhile levels of disciplinary content into their project work.
  • There is no correlation between teacher degree level and learning of their pupils.
  • Good teachers continue to add value for students for three years after they stop teaching them.
  • In the UK, variability between classrooms within a school is at least four times the variability between schools.
  • Once social factors have been accounted for, private schools offer no added value compared to state schools.
  • Pupils learn four times as much with the most effective teachers compared to the least effective, but factors in teacher behaviour which researchers have identified only account for 10% of this (we don't know what the best teachers are doing differently!)
I did not learn what "Flying with Geese" means!

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