Why you don’t need a model of teaching

17 February, 2017


One of the latest fads to reach UK schools is the notion of a model of teaching. A shared way of doing things around a shared language.

Harvard does this with its standard Harvard essay. There may be other ways to write essays but at Harvard all students and professors are expected to work to the standard.

We put these three reasons (and common responses) to ignoring the shared teaching model fad to our team of experts here at Osiris Educational and here is what they had to say:

     1. Creativity becomes stifled

Teaching is more of an art and different subjects and different teachers naturally have their own ways of going about things. Stifle their creativity and you curtail their motivation and risk losing them.

Also, we are preparing pupils for an uncertain world so the more variety of approaches they experience, the better they will be prepared for what life throws at them.

Creativity can now be defined and measured. There is nothing in this notion that would either undermine the definition of creativity or send the measurement scales backwards.

By sharing a common notion of what a model of teaching is across all arenas of the school it may actually promote creativity. And it is worth focusing on who’s creativity we are trying to promote. Is it the teachers or the pupils? There is no reason why creative development doesn’t become part of your model. In the end each school will have a slightly different agreed shared model of teaching.

But there are likely to be common features such as a core of knowledge, skills and dispositions you seek to develop, progression clearly identified through these, an assessment system that supports that progression and reflects the underpinning dispositions you seek to develop.

New teachers, pupils and parents would have clarity on how teaching works at the school and clear expectations on next steps in progressions. Staff discussions can be centred around developing the model.

Models of teaching go back thousands of years. It is only recently we have relied on external agencies to set curricular and define practice. Those controls have been largely ineffective at improving standards and have largely been withdrawn. Now is the time to revisit what it means for your school.

      2. It’s a fad and it will blow on by

Where is the proof that having a shared teaching model actually impacts on outcomes? What do we actually mean by a shared teaching model and who is to say there is a right one anyway? And how are the different subject leaders and key stage co-ordinators going to react if we try to introduce a common way of doing things?

All sounds like a recipe for disagreement and a distraction to what we are planning this year… And it will probably blow over like all the rest… lesson observations, increase marking.

Possibly. A new authoritarian regime may impose a new national curriculum and assessment standards. The problem is there is no evidence from anywhere in the world that such approaches work. Even the current inspection model is being reviewed. It is possibly on its penultimate iteration.

Schools are already defining their core purpose. And that core purpose should be teaching and learning. Without a shared teaching model and the consensus that provides teaching often fails to join up for the pupils it is supposed to serve. Schools are finding much success from consistency of approach not privatised practice. Collective efficacy is now the number one development tool. A shared teaching model provides a fine focus.

      3. The focus should be on learning, not teaching.

The focus should be on learning and producing independent learners ready for the 21st century. Learning outcomes are what matter most and good teaching should lead to good learning.

Whilst teaching has few moderators, and a science of teaching is emerging, learning is much more complex.

Models of learning are beginning to emerge, and offer great excitement. There is still much debate over whether these should focus more on dis-positional development or more traditional notions of achievement. Professor Hattie’s work in Visible Learning is possibly the most all-encompassing (and learning encompasses a life time’s wisdom) and even he would say “What if I’m wrong?”

Shared models of teaching, for most schools, offers the most tangible way forward.

To find out more, have a look at our OTI programme and the impact this shared model of teaching is bringing to schools around the UK.

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