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How much should ethos dictate methods?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by atics, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. The way I see it is, if I observe a teacher, I judge the learning taking place. I try to block out my own 'ideas' and see the lesson at face value, and if the kids are learning, that's good.
    However, I work in a department where the HoD is forever trying to influence teaching methods with 'innovation'. I am all for being innovative and sharing ideas and developing new teaching strategies, but deploying any strategies should be at the discretion of individual teachers in my opinion, as what suits one teacher/group/individual doesn't necessarily suit the next.
    In my department you could happily teach an old-fashioned lesson where the kids learnt loads and get a 'satisfactory' or you could do something innovative and fun and new and get an 'outstanding'. This seems back to front to me.
    So how much should leadership be able to dictate methods? Surely they should only criticise if results are poor? I'd be interested in hearing the views of others.
     
  2. The way I see it is, if I observe a teacher, I judge the learning taking place. I try to block out my own 'ideas' and see the lesson at face value, and if the kids are learning, that's good.
    However, I work in a department where the HoD is forever trying to influence teaching methods with 'innovation'. I am all for being innovative and sharing ideas and developing new teaching strategies, but deploying any strategies should be at the discretion of individual teachers in my opinion, as what suits one teacher/group/individual doesn't necessarily suit the next.
    In my department you could happily teach an old-fashioned lesson where the kids learnt loads and get a 'satisfactory' or you could do something innovative and fun and new and get an 'outstanding'. This seems back to front to me.
    So how much should leadership be able to dictate methods? Surely they should only criticise if results are poor? I'd be interested in hearing the views of others.
     
  3. Sounds to me like your HoD is out of their depth.

     
  4. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    Not necessarily. In my department, I'd say my main priority has been to try and entice old-fashioned teachers out of their 'satisfactory-good' comfort zones - you know the type - lesson starter, learning objective - new concept explained - pull out the textbooks or a worksheet, do an exercise, go through answers, plenary to draw together issues and look forward to next lesson or give out homework.
    Now, there's nothing wrong with well taught/explained lessons like that as a part of the everyday diet of students. But, there's merit in getting them to explore new teaching styles - eg a groupwork activity based on Nrich, new resources, new questioning styles, etc.
    Our departmental priority is, in brief, to help staff out of their comfort zones and mix things up more in lessons. Doesn't sound dissimilar to the OP.
    I suppose it all depends on the degree of pressure applied. In my department, I'd expect to see staff trying things out on a reasonably regular basis. When I did our Performance management observations, I told them beforehand that I was looking for them to try something new. One teacher didn't and taught a bog-standard lesson rather badly and the kids were shuffling on their seats. I had to tell that teacher how disappointed I was. However, I generally expect that teachers will teach to their strengths, and I also expect that they will want to move their teaching forward and explore new ideas. My yardstick has been - every week, do 2 lessons in your comfort zone, try something different for the third. I don't think that's unreasonable. If the OP's HOD doesn't ever allow them to teach in their comfort zone, that might be an issue for teachers who are, otherwise, very sound practitioners.
     
  5. That's a very sound and reasoned judgement, one lesson a week to try something different. All the better if colleagues share what is/is not working within the department.
     
  6. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    In my department, we decide to all try something and then report back at a department meeting. We are quite free to say "it didn't work for me". It would be easy for me to settle for "good enough"; being pushed into trying new things helps me avoid this, and (I think) I have become a better teacher as a result. I do think that we should insist on some variation of approach from every teacher, which does not mean that anything traditional should be avoided or assessed as no more than satisfactory. Different students learn best in different ways, and if we vary our approach, we have more chance of reaching all of them.
     

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