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5 Reflections to Support Teachers This Fall

How can teachers reflect on their practice to better understand the nuanced ways to improve classroom success? Heading into an unusual fall semester, in particular, what are some of the specific opportunities to enhance relationships, motivation, and sustained achievement?

In this article, which kicks off a new series highlighting perspectives from John Catt Educational authors, read about five ways to have a strong start (and finish) to the 2020-21 year. The reflections are generated from previous conversations with the authors, in which they dive deeper into these ideas.

With the start of the school year just underway, now is a great time to look into some new teacher tips. Enjoy this “top 5” and consider how it can support your ongoing efforts.

1. Make intentional connections

Tricia Taylor, author of Connect the Dots: The Collective Power of Relationships, Memory and Mindset in the Classroom

“In my book, there’s a story where I went to one school and I was talking to students about whether or not they like school. This one girl said she really didn’t like school and I asked why. She said, ‘I feel like my teachers don’t see me.’ She’s that child in the class who is well behaved, who gets on with stuff but whom we don’t connect with. I really believe in intentional connections.

Intentional connection is when you make sure that you get to every single child and make sure that you are being reflective on your own bias and that you understand that you’re giving each student this sense of belonging in the classroom.”

Listen to the full interview with Tricia Taylor: Connecting the Dots of Educator-Student Relationships

2. Look at motivation in a new way

Craig Barton, author of Reflect, Expect, Check, Explain : Sequences and behaviour to enable mathematical thinking in the classroom

“I used to think the key to motivating kids was you motivate them with these engaging activities. You bring real-life applications in there. You make math seem really relevant to them. And that motivation leads them to be successful.

But my reading of the research and particularly now in the last few years, I think that line of causation is completely wrong. I think it’s the other way around. I think you teach kids in a way that makes them feel successful and that, then, leads to motivation.

The motivation takes care of itself because the kids feel good about themselves. They feel they understand things, therefore, they’re willing to take more risks. They’re willing to be out of that comfort zone.”

Listen to the full interview with Craig Barton: Common Sense Strategies to Enable Mathematical Thinking

3. Use quiet reflection to look after yourself

Jamie Thom, author of A Quiet Education: Challenging the Extrovert Ideal in our Schools

“Introverted qualities are incredibly important for us to craft within our schools. Qualities such as listening, silence, giving real space and time for thinking, I think, have to be one of our principal aims as educators. The idea of an introvert is more about where you get your energy. For me, I think the energy of introverted people comes a little bit more from within.

Teaching is such an interpersonally complex profession that we all could benefit from that time of just quiet reflection in order to continue to learn and continue to look after ourselves and be the best person ourselves in front of young people.”

Listen to the full interview with Jamie Thom: Making Schools Work for Introverted Students and Teachers

4. Take teaching back to its roots

Katharine Birbalsingh, author of Michaela: The Power of Culture

“Too often in education, we think that the more modern way of doing things is the right way. It’s the wrong way. We’ve gone the wrong way in education. We need to go back.

It’s true that some modern methods have helped so I’m not saying you’d want to reject everything. But you really don’t want to be doing the kinds of things that they tell you to do in the teacher training institutions.

I often say to people, ‘You remember when you were little and you thought you wanted to be a teacher and you put all your teddy bears out in front of you and you’d teach them. What did you do? I want you to do that. I want you to teach as if you were teaching the teddy bears when you were seven.’”

Listen to the full interview with Katharine Birbalsingh: Building a School on the Power of Culture

5. Commit to continuous improvement 

Bruce Robertson, author of The Teaching Delusion: Why Teaching In Our Schools Isn’t Good Enough (And How We Can Make It Better)

“Schools are full of great teachers. Absolutely, I stand by that! But is great teaching happening in every classroom in every school?

Experience and expertise are different things and nobody will ever perfect teaching. Teaching is as much art as it is science and it’s just impossible to perfect for that reason. Everyone can get better at teaching. And if we’re going to make the biggest difference that we can to the lives of the students we teach, everybody needs to get better. Teachers are the most important resource of a school. Every teacher is equally important.”

Listen to the full interview with Bruce Robertson: Confronting the ‘Teaching Delusion’ to Make Schools Better

Find books written by these authors and many more leading educators and experts by visiting us.johncattbookshop.com

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