Alphabetical Signposts to Teacher Excellence – C

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Carl Hendrick – Co-author of one of my favourite books “What Does This Look Like in The Classroom? Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice” – his blog is fantastic reading for all educators.

Checklists – checklists can be useful to provide to students on a subject knowledge level, presentation of work level, structuring peer and self assessment or for us as teachers to make decisions. Here is a book from Harry Fletcher-Wood called Ticked Off. Blog here from Teach Like A Champion.

Can-do checklists – here Tom Sherrington talks about the problems with the rubrics we use to assess student learning using can do checklists.

Caviglioli, Oliver – @olivercavigliol is a former special school Headteacher. He is now a much celebrated information designer, creating visual narratives around teaching concepts and processses.

Centrally planned lessons –  I feel that this is the way forward for a number of reasons in maths – namely staff collaboration, consistency, reducing workload and increasing staff effectiveness at a particular method or explanation.

Chairing a meeting – Effective chairs provide key information prior to the meeting in good time, have a clear purpose for the meeting, set a clear agenda of questions (not just bullet points), involve everyone, summarise each item to consolidate, appreciate contributions, stick to the planned time and share minutes with clear action points and deadlines. I, personally, don’t like covering administrative items in a meeting. Why do we need to hear about issues from other form groups? Going through a list of pupil attainment from another class? Let’s cut the fat from the meat of meetings. Departmental meetings should have one item – “How can we improve the teaching and learning in this subject in the upcoming topics?” Certainly don’t criticise the whole department in the meeting because of the actions of a few (i.e. missed deadlines, not following policy etc.) Reprimand those who have not adhered to your expectations in private.  Department time is a precious gem that needs polishing in many schools. Some generic advice here. Article on “how to love your next meeting in 5 steps” here. Article from TED here.

Challenge – Tom Sherrington shared a great blog about challenge here – teach to the top and scaffold down. Here is another great blog from Slow Teaching. Another here from @missdcox. 6 principles here from @thatboycanteach.

Chess – There are a couple of things that have fascinated me about chess and teaching recently. The first is that expert chess players have tens of thousands of chess piece positions chunked in their long term memory. The difference between expert chess players and novices is that they have greater knowledge of chess positions so the “skill” of winning actually stems from their knowledge of how to react to different chess positions (study is Simon and Chase, 1973.) The second is an EEF Project’s research findings about chess in primary schools and it’s effect on maths outcomes. It had no effect on the maths outcomes even though each student was subjected to 30 hours of chess training by a tutor.

Children – remember we are working with children. Celebrate that we have an opportunity to work with children. Maximise the opportunities to improve the lives of the children. Treat them as you would like to be treated. Before asking whether your children have respect for you as a teacher, ask yourself whether you are showing the children the respect they deserve as human beings.

Chimp Paradox – not a big fan of self-help books but this an excellent read by Dr. Steven Peters around an analogy of how our brain works and how we think. The human, the computer and the chimp. Excellent read. Part of the synopsis… “The Chimp Mind Management Model is based on scientific facts and principles, which have been simplified into a workable model for easy use. It will help you to develop yourself and give you the skills, for example, to remove anxiety, have confidence and choose your emotions. The book will do this by giving you an understanding of the way in which your mind works and how you can manage it. It will also help you to identify what is holding you back or preventing you from having a happier and more successful life. Each chapter explains different aspects of how you function and highlights key facts for you to understand. There are also exercises for you to work with. By undertaking these exercises you will see immediate improvements in your daily living and, over time, you will develop emotional skills and practical habits that will help you to become the person that you want to be, and live the life that you want to live.”

Choice – Choice is everywhere in education – which school, GCSE subject options, post 16 options. Is giving students a choice of their work a good thing in lessons? Some people may say that choice offers students a sense of control over their learning and research suggests that this can increase intrinsic motivation. A counter argument is that students don’t always know what is *best* for their learning. We can also suffer from “choice paralysis” – we have that much choice that we find it hard to make a decision and even when we do make a decision we induce choice anxiety by thinking about the other good options we *could* have taken. Paper here about how choice in the U.K. impacts pupils by ethnicity, household income and ability. Paper here on intrinsic motivation in the classroom. Blog from Harry Fletcher-Wood here about making choice easy using evidence based research from behavioural psychology.

Christodoulou (Daisy) is a goddess of assessment. Her two books “Seven Myths About Education” and “Making Good Progress?” are essential reading for all teachers. She was, until recently, Head of Research at the incredibly successful Ark schools and is often a presenter at large conferences such as ResearchEd. She is now Director of Education for the online comparative judgement tool No More Marking. Listen to her talk all things education here. Her blog is here. No more marking blog is here.

Chunking – the process by which we try to split up information to make it easier to process. Having knowledge of different acronyms would help you to memorize this     CN NFB ICB SCI ANC AA by re-arranging it to CNN FBI CBS CIA NCAA. Our background knowledge of the acronymns helps us to chunk the information more efficiently. Article here. This “Learning Loop” article here from David Didau also refers to chunking.

CIMT resources – look no further than the MEPs excellent resources for every topic in maths. They really are excellent and include examples, assessment questions, exercises and much more.

Coe (Sir Robert) – Professor in the School of Education and Director of the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) at Durham University. His most impactful work on my teaching has been “What Makes Great Teaching” via Sutton Trust and “Classroom Observation: It’s harder than you think.”

“Cognitive conflict” is the term educationalists use for the idea of cognitive dissonance and can be broadly defined as the mental discomfort produced when someone is confronted with new information that contradicts their prior beliefs and ideas.” Nick Rose. The question this gives us as teachers is whether or not presenting common misconceptions to students and creating cognitive conflict is beneficial? Nick talks about three reasons why it possibly does benefit students in this blog here.

“Cognitive dissonance and can be broadly defined as the mental discomfort produced when someone is confronted with new information that contradicts their prior beliefs and ideas. Where cognitive dissonance arises the person will typically seek to reduce this discomfort either by changing their ideas or by avoiding (e.g. ignoring) the new information.” Nick Rose in this blog here. Helpful psychology article here.

Cognitive overload is experienced when our working memory is worked too hard. 6×7 might be ok in your head. 36×7 might be too. 45×79 might be more difficult. 134×769 would begin to overload your working memory. Article here.

Cognitive principles from “Why Don’t Children Like School?” by Daniel Willingham. – These are essential knowledge for teachers and are summarised nicely here by Joe Kirby. This also lends a nice summary from the summary table at the end of the book. Full article from Willigham himself, here.

Cognitive science vs educational research – Cognitive science uses well controlled experiments focussing on how the brain functions and educational research is a set of studies carried out in schools about a particular issue using randomized groups and control groups to test the effectiveness of actions carried out by schools on a desired outcome.

Cognitive load theory (CLT) – “The single most important thing a teacher should know” according to Dylan Wiliam. A series of instructional recommendations from John Sweller to help minimise the use of our working memory for non-desirable activity so that it is free to use for more desirable learning activity. Infographic of the effects from Oliver Caviglioli here. Greg Ashman’s blog here. Planning lessons using cognitive load theory from Harry Fletcher Wood here. Chapter summaries with visuals from Oliver Caviglioli here. Great summary here. Cognitive load appliedto collaborative learning article here.

Collaborate – this is one of the most important things you can do. If you are more experienced , help those that are not. If you are less experienced then ask to buddy up with an experienced member of staff. Go on courses that will benefit you and others and SHARE YOUR FINDINGS and integrate it into each other’s practice. Have an open door policy to allow your colleagues to come and see you teach any time any lesson to learn from you or give you constructive feedback. Network with other schools, hubs, departments, feeder primaries and SHARE YOUR RESOURCES. Workload issues can be tackled through collaboration. It is one of the lowest hanging fruits in education but the fruit is often left to go rotten in some schools. Collaboration develops a great culture among staff and leaders. Collaboration helps drive standards.

Collaborative learning – gets bad press but only because it is largely not done effectively. Dylan Wiliam states that for it to be effective you need to have clear group goals and individual accountability, i.e if one member doesn’t give their best efforts, the whole group fails (see Baldino (Roberto) above). There are many different structures that you can use to ensure that collaborative approaches are effective, such as Kagan structures. I blogged about my favourite ones to use in maths here. The EEF toolkit suggests this from its study, which shows that, when done properly, collaborative learning can have a positive effect on learning of up to +5 school months.

Cold calling – a no hands up approach to questioning from Teach Like A Champion which means that you can select a student for a particular reason – either you know they hold a misconception for everyone to learn from or you just want to build their confidence. Blog from Doug Lemov here on why this *is* an inclusive way to question pupils.

Comparative judgement – from Dr. Chris Wheadon and Daisy Christadoulou are doing some great work to allow writing assessment to take place on a large scale by comparing different pieces of writing rather than using assessment rubrics. The future of writing assessment? Blog here. Research schools project here. Q&A knowledge base here.

Comprehension – E.D. Hirsch estimates that we are required to know 90-95% of the words in a paragraph to understand its meaning. This is his article “Reading Comprehension Requires Knowledge.”

Concrete examples – A strategy from the Learning Scientists for studying. Concrete examples at the initial knowledge acquisition phase are really effective for students who are trying to learn abstract information. Downloadable materials here.

Concreteness fading effect – gradually reducing the concreteness of examples into the more abstract – blog from Blake Harvard here.

Consistency is key – zoom out of your own little world – consistency in the way you deal with behaviour, treat staff as a leader, consistency in messages delivered to parents, consistency in how a department explains concepts, consistency in how a department gives feedback to pupils. It is everywhere and it is so important!

Constructivism is basically a theory — based on observation and scientific study — about how people learn. It says that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences.

Content is key to comprehension – “teaching content is teaching reading.” This 10 minute video explains all. – one of my favourite websites from John Corbett. Veos, resources, 5 a day, textbook exercises and revision cards. fantastic!

Continued Professional Development – I like how Doug Lemov refers to an effective model as “see it, name it, do it” – giving strategy a name makes it easy to refer to in the future. If CPD doesn’t change adult behaviour it is pointless. I’d like to add “share it” to this… “see it, name it, do it, share it!” ResearchEd events offer fantastic CPD as well as the National Maths Conferences (maths teachers) but the best advice I can offer in terms of CPD are educational books (see books), blogs and Twitter! Here is 10 ways CPD time is wasted, written by Tom Sherrington. Here is an evidence based report of CPD “developing great subject teaching” from Wellcome Education. Here is a TES article from David Weston bout it. An excellent blog about subject specific CPD here from Mark Enser.

Cool Reading Facts video playlist from Daniel Willingham. Short, essential videos for all teachers.

Collaborative Learning – all the evidence and research you need via @adamboxer1 here.

CPD Genie – a new system that the school I work at is trialling for the next couple of years. Everything is recorded digitally in terms of work scrutiny and observations. CPD is applied for and recorded on the system. Individual targets are agreed with staff in line with their development needs. Excellent system so far. Easy for leaders to track, analyse and report. Good customer service. Big thumbs up from me.

Critical thinking – article from Daniel Willingham here.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – develop a can-do culture and excellent relationships and you’re on the right road! A culture of “we can always get better” or “the best at getting better” is key. The culture of a school/department/classroom determines not only it’s success but morale. If there is a culture among leaders of checking or box ticking with little consideration of impact on pupil outcomes then this is not desirable. If there is too laid back an approach with no analysis of impact then this is also not desirable. Finding that balance and involving as many staff as possible in decisions that will affect change on their workload is important. Tom Bennett’s “Creating a Culture” government behaviour report.

Culture of error – another concept from Teach Like A Champion. Ensuring that students feel safe to make and learn from their mistakes is the teacher’s responsibility. Developing this culture takes time. Here are Doug Lemov’s field notes with the tag “culture of error,” including specific examples of how this culture is developed in different schools.

Curee –

Curriculum design – one of the most important things to think about in education. The content and sequencing of the content is so important. In maths, the hierarchical nature of it means that there are certain topics that cannot be taught without a secure knowledge of foundation topic. Here are lots of ideas from Tom Sherrington around curriculum models. Here is a blog from David Didau on redesigning a curriculum. Blog from ResearchEd Birmingham 2018 on re-designing the English key stage 3 curriculum here from Rebecca Foster. This is an excellent post from Bruno Reddy on designing a mastery curriculum in maths. Here is an excellent bibliography from Helen Ralston.

Curiosity – “People are naturally curious, but they are not naturally good thinkers.” Another of Willingham’s 9 cognitive principles. Curiosity is fragile. Ensure that tasks/problems are desirably difficult, i.e. pitched at the correct level and are solvable. Don’t assume that matching up student interests with the lesson content be will increase curiosity. This is not always true. Read the paragraphs under the heading of “People are naturally curious, but curiousity is fragile” in this article.

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