Quoting from Chapter 3: The Argument – What Teachers do Matters:
…what some teachers do matters – especially those who teach in a most and visible manner. When these professionals see learning occurring or not occurring, they intervene in calculated and meaningful ways to alter the direction of learning to attain various shared, specific and challenging goals. In particular, they provide students with multiple opportunities ..for developing learning strategies based on teh surface and deep levels of learning …leading to students building conceptual understanding of this learning which the students and teachers then use in future learning. The act of teaching requires deliberate interventions to ensure that there is cognitive change in the student: thus the key ingredients are awareness of the learning intentions, knowing when a student is successful in attaining those intentions, having sufficient understanding of the student’s understadning..and knowing enough about the content to provide meaningful and challenging experiences in some sort of progressive development. It involves an experienced teacher who knows a range of learning strategies to provide the student when they seem to not understand, to provide direction and re-direction..and thus maximise the power of feedback.
..in the right caring and idea-rich environment, the learner can experiment (be right and wrong) with the content and the thinking about the content, amd make connections across ideas. A safe environment for the learner is an environment where error is welcomed and fostered-because we learn so much from errors and from the feedback that then accrues from going in the wrong direction or not going sufficiently fluently in the right direction. In the same way, teachers themselves need to be in a safe environment to learn about the success or otherwise of their teaching from others.
To facilitate such an environment, to command a range of learning strategies, and to be cognitively aware of the pedagogical means to enable the student to learn requires dedicated, passionate people. ..teachers need to be aware of which of their teaching strategies are working or not, be prepared to understand and adapt to the learner(s) and their situation(s), contexts and prior learning, and need to share the experience of learning in this manner in an open, forthright, and enjoyable way with their students and their colleagues.
We rarely talk about passion in education, as if doing so makes the work of teachers seem less serious, more emotional than cognitive, somewhat biased or of lesser import. Passion reflects the thrills as well as the frustrations of learning- it can be infectious, it can be taught, it can be modelled, and it can be learnt.
Learning is not always pleasurable and easy; it requires over-learning at certain points, spiralling up and down the knowledge continuum and building a working relationship with others in grappling with challenging tasks. This is the power of deliberate practice. The greater the challenge, the higher the probability that one seeks and needs feedback. ..
..the message is not merely to innovate- but to learn from what makes the difference when teachers innovate. When we innovate we are more aware of what is working and what is not, we are looking for contrary evidence, we are keen to discover any intended and unintended consequences, and we have a heightened awareness of the effects of the innovations on outcomes.
Lots of good stuff here. I look forward to dipping into other chapters and reflecting on my own practice.
Highly recommended. You can read more about the book at Bruce Hammonds’ blog, Leading and Learning