Teacher quality is one factor in education over which schools have influence whereas student factors and socio economic conditions are largely immutable.
John Hattie, a prominent researcher in teacher quality, advocates encouraging teachers to look for evidence when their teaching is not working with certain students and what aspects of what they are teaching is not working. This heightened seeking of feedback about their impact as a teacher is a key to successful teaching. Didn’t someone once say that a sign of madness is doing what isn’t working over and over again?
Recently I conducted some research which involved filming teachers to observe aspects of their pedagogy including use of humour and non-verbal communication. I found that the teachers who smiled, joked and told stories had higher levels of student engagement and fewer behaviour problems.
Some schools are making time to mentor teachers, research best practice and allow teachers to receive feedback on performance as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald this week (Small change for big pay off. Ham, M. SMH 7th July).
Dr Ben Jensen of The Grattan Institute released a report this year ‘Making Time for great Teaching’ which explores how schools can organise their operations by managing teacher time more efficiently.Schools are such busy places and teacher and executive teacher time is not always used in the most productive manner.
Something to think about as the holidays wind up and we launch into second semester.