The 6 blocks to teacher and school leader Improvement

30 April, 2019

Too often we use the word ‘change’ when we really mean ‘improvement’. Change is ongoing in a dynamic state. To suggest more change without a well orchestrated plan or clear theory of action can waste everyone’s time.

Even with the best intentions, intended gains may not be realised in spite of the best laid plans.

We simply state the three measures by which learning and improvement take place for sense of clarity. The three essentials for you to thrive:

  • Wisdom – Acquired and prior knowledge, consolidated and ready to apply
  • Assimilation – Skills developed and adopted into your practice
  • Integration – The above applied to all elements

The six blocks to teaching

Below we explore 6 reasons for lack of progress:

Adopting new and developed ways of practice (expertise) is problematic. A number of obstacles lie in the way;

  • People are not blank canvases, some practice is secure, whilst others based on either wrong beliefs or best endeavours need to be reconstructed. For example, self esteem is often helped to have a causal link to underperformance. Behaviour management is believed to lead directly to better learning. In case one, the reevaluation of research evidence undermined this popularly held belief.n case two, there has never been evidence of a causal link, but to the new teacher it would seem an obvious first step. Using tests and levels, people can begin to understand their prior learning and already developed expertise. This provides a secured foundation for further learning.


  • Perception/reality gap and people’s natural tendency to a rose tinted outlook on their performance, means most teachers feel they already know the new practice in spite of the evidence. By presenting people with clear, irrefutable and tangible evidence of such gaps, they begin to alter their perceptions and seek a new reality.


  • Relational trust is low. This may be for various reasons, but the impact means that people are slow to trust either themselves, fellow collaborators or development professionals. This is countered be elective practice with a high degree of autonomy over the initial application, often trying things where and when they are most likely to work first to establish key points/ patterns of success.


  • Cognitive load of learning developed practice, whilst continuing to perform is challenging. This makes for slow progress with adaptive practice. Performance focus always tends to trump development routines, particularly when the practitioner perceives they are being observed. Excessive clarity on theory, explanations and at each stage of development and securing of enhanced practice is vital.


  • Incentives in the current system to improve are weak (TALLIS 2008), whilst 15% (Craft) of most professions are self driven towards rapid improvement, the rest lack either financial, promotional or performance incentives to further develop their expertise. Inertia therefore needs to be conquered. This is done by making what appears to be abstract highly personal and beginning with oneself and self concepts.


  • Messy is the order of the day. Whilst we would all love to see and easy linear transmission and adoption learning requires many backloops, aha moments, diversions, dead ends and mistakes. These need to be allowed for. Your experience and development expertise in this field should be reflected upon when designing the checks and balances in this process…particularly mistakes and misconceptions.


Osiris Educational is the UK’s leading independent training provider for teachers.

We work at the forefront of innovation in education providing pioneering, challenging and effective training solutions in teaching. We use the best and most renowned trainers to help teachers improve their ways of thinking and approaches to teaching.

To find out more about Outstanding Teaching, please contact: or call 01790 755 787


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *