Teacher Learner Communities  – Exploring the 5 strands


September, 2016

TLCs – Powerful Pedagogy overview

Powerful Pedagogy

“Learning is highly complex. It ebbs and flows through lessons, across schemes of work and over years. In fact, hackneyed ‘three-part’ lessons of starter, main and plenary is hopelessly simplistic.”   Pge 9

Based on the book Make Every Lesson Count.

What ‘s this book like then?

‘Making every lesson count’ should help new and experienced teachers to do just that. It offers practical advice on how we can focus on “simple truths” in order to ensure that great teaching leads to genuine learning. Drawing on what research evidence suggests, what they have learnt from inspirational colleagues and, most importantly, from their own practice as serving teachers, Shaun and Andy offer a carefully structured analysis of how teachers and school leaders can create a climate within which excellence and growth will take root and flourish. I’d recommend this to anyone who is committed to being their best within the classroom.


Who should take this strand? 

This strand is suited to teachers who are confident teachers who would enjoy exploring their pedagogy in more detail. Ideally teachers who took this strand would use Iris Connect to share their exploration of pedagogy and build up a bank of excellence.

What aspects of teaching would we look at?

The book covers 6 different teaching principles – challenge, explanation, modelling, questioning, feedback and practice. It offers a wealth of strategies to explore. We looked at the opening chapter on the first day – this might give you a flavour of what to expect.

For example they look at how we might develop two aspects of practice – deliberate practice and practice for fluency. They use Nuthall’s research on the power of 3’s to embed concepts and techniques such as “fold it in” to build up fluency.

Make Every Lesson Count


Here are some questions that the authors explore in relations to planning effective explanations. In the book they have a wide range of strategies and examples of effective explanations.


  • Is prior knowledge established and required to hook into new knowledge.
  • Does the explanation focus on the key learning points, success criteria and subject threshold concepts.
  • Are there opportunities to make the explanation more concrete and credible e.g. demonstration, visual, practical, appropriate use of analogy?
  • Does the explanation generate curiosity and so open up the learning gaps .
  • Is explanation clear and concise especially when subject matter is challenging?
  • Is teacher talk and gesture enthusiastic, kind and inclusive?


“Once your know a class well something else becomes apparent. Teaching is feedback. You will introduce new content to fit judiciously with what you have learnt about a class. You will circle back to topics they have struggled with so that they can be tackled again from new angles. You will shape explanations, models practice time and discussion with a finely hewn focus on the strength and weaknesses of the group.  page 200




September, 2016

TLCs- Expert Assessment FAQ

Expert Assessment 

“The teacher’s job is not to transmit knowledge, nor to facilitate learning. It is to engineer effective learning environments for the students. The key features of effective learning environments are that they create student engagement and allow teachers, learners, and their peers to ensure that the learning is proceeding in the intended direction. The only way we can do this is through assessment. That is why assessment is, indeed, the bridge between teaching and learning.”

― Dylan Wiliam, Embedded Formative Assessment

Based on the Material “Embedding Formative Assessment”

What’s this strand like then?

This strand encourages teachers to focus on formative assessment and the development of their formative assessment strategies. It uses the work of Dylan Wiliams to help give structure and focus. Whilst everyone uses formative assessment this TLC should allow teachers a chance to widen their repertoire and try out some new ideas. It might help you re-think the meaning of assessment and to use it more effectively as part of your day to day teaching. Wiliams argues (convincingly in my opinion) that any teacher focusing on improving their use of formative assessment will improve their teaching and outcomes for their students.

Who should take this strand then?

Any teacher can benefit from improving their use of formative assessment. It can be the quickest and most effective way for new teachers to improve their practice but also it would allow for some refining of pedagogy for established teachers. If you cannot decide this is probably the best one to go for.

What would we look at exactly?

Here’s an example of some strategies discussed in the embedding formative assessment pack.


sample handout


Embedding Formative Assessment


As part of the Expert Assessment Framework you will be exploring and using the framework for understanding formative assessment. Dylan Williams uses a model which considers – Where the student is going, Where the student is now and How to get the learner there. He sees three ways to view this – from the teacher, student or peer perspective  – he illustrates this by the following grid:


Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 16.15.30


As every teacher knows, what students learn as a result of any particular sequence of instruction is hard to predict—what students learn is not necessarily what we teach. This is why assessment is perhaps the central feature of effective practice—assessment is the bridge between teaching and learning. It is only by assessing that we can find out whether the instructional activities in which students have engaged have resulted in the intended learning. Without assessment, we might as well be speaking our lessons into a video camera that is relayed to students in another room.



September, 2016

TLCs – Exploring relationships FAQ

“Later I discovered the seminal Bill Rogers’ video series and watched them back-to-back.  Oh, why hadn’t I seen these sooner!? No contest, from all the CPD I’ve ever engaged with, these videos have had by far the greatest influence on me and my philosophy of teaching.”  Headteacher Tom Sherrington.



This strand uses the work of Bill Rodgers and Doug Lemov.


Bill Rodgers is an acknowledged behaviour management expert and Doug Lemov has written a number of successful books making explicit a range of strategies design to create successful learning environments.

You would be trying out some new approaches to Teaching and learning and behaviour management with other teachers trying similar ideas.

Who might benefit from taking this strand?

Anyone who would like to try out some new approaches to behaviour management and explore an explicit set of strategies to improve teaching. Any teacher wanting some fresh insights into setting up a successful classroom culture.

What’s this strand like then?

Here’s a flavour of the Bill Rogers approach:

  • Positive Correction: the basic premise that teachers and schools should adopt a non-confrontational approach to discipline, based on positive teacher-student relationships, respect for the dignity and rights of individuals, choices about consequences of behaviour and encouragement for student self-discipline.
  • Prevention: planning for good behaviour; teaching the routines and the rules.
  • Consequences: have a clear structure that students understand and use to inform the choices they make.

Repair & Rebuild: the imperative to work hard to build and repair the damage that is done when things don’t work out.

Doug Lemov illustrates a wide range of techniques which he argues improves the conditions for learning in the classroom. Only some of them directly discuss behaviour.

Here’s technique 12 to 17

Section 3 Structuring and Delivering Your Lessons Technique

Technique 12 THE HOOK introduce material to your class in a captivating, inspiring, and exciting way.

Technique 13 NAME THE STEPS

Break down complex tasks into steps that form a path for student mastery. Technique 14 BOARD = PAPER

This is a method by which a teacher models and shapes how students should take notes in order to capture information he or she presents. 125

Technique 15 CIRCULATE

Move strategically around the room during all parts of the lesson.

Technique 16 BREAK IT DOWN  When a student makes an error provide just enough help to allow her to “solve” as much of the original problem as she can”

Technique 17 RATIO In some classrooms teachers do nearly all the cognitive work. The aim of Ratio is for students to do progressively more of it themselves.

Exploring Relationships




“As soon as you realize that students are off task, make the least invasive correction possible – ideally nonverbally so that your teaching is not interrupted. Thus correct without stopping your teaching whenever you can – make your corrections fast, positive, confident and as invisible as possible. ” Lemov


September, 2016

TLCs Grammar to Rhetoric FAQ

Grammar to Rhetoric

The idea of the philosopher kid is intended to help articulate the idea that both within and beyond our working lives, we have a responsibility to ourselves, our friends, our neighbourhoods, our nations and our planets. The philosopher kid understands the importance of becoming a rounded human being and is interested in seeking continual improvement in all they do. At a time when we need lofty ambitions for all our our young people, the trivium offers a supporting structure for this kind of attitude. 

Based on the book Trivium 21st century

What ‘s this book like then?

Here’s a review:

A fascinating book that brings alive the history of education in a lively and thought-provoking way. It made me think deeply about teaching and learning. I would highly recommend this, both to teachers, and to a more general readership interested in philosophy and ideas.

More astute readers will have noticed that the three original elements of the trivium – grammar, dialectic and rhetoric – have become ‘knowing’, ‘questioning’ and ‘communicating’ respectively, though the writer himself arrives at these modern definitions only after a thorough examination of each of the concepts.

Who should take this strand?

Any teacher wanting to explore how to develop discussion and communication skills. This strand is for experienced teachers who would like to explore what it might mean to develop Philosopher Kids at George Green’s School. This strand requires teachers to engage with the approach rather than try out some suggested teaching strategies.

What aspects of teaching would we look at?

Grammar – this is the transfer of knowledge and culture. Being taught information and rules, broadly the traditionalist approach to education in modern schools

Dialectic – these are the thinking skills. Analysis, discussion, challenge, debate. Learning to question everything broadly equating to the progressive approach in modern education.

Rhetoric – this is communication. Learning to communicate oneself, to listen to others, to take in and process information. The author sees this in some ways as the link between grammar and dialectic. It allows us to reflect, summarise, evaluate and ultimately become better citizens.

Robinson is deeply persuasive about the importance of rhetoric, which he variously describes as communicating, producing, sharing, expressing, arguing, teaching or performing. There can be no critical analysis without knowledge, while knowledge, understanding and creativity are of little value without the demonstration of it to others.


Trivium How do we create philosopher kids?




Heres an example from page 226.

p226 independence20160904110808249




September, 2016

TLCs – Ugly Learning FAQ

Ugly Learning – what can we learn from cognitive psychology? 


“Memory is the residue of thought.”



What‘s this CPL strand like then?

We will look at Why don’t students Like School by Daniel Willingham and other articles which discuss the nature of learning and what cognitive science has to say about the implications of research for teaching.

Who should take this strand?

Any teacher who want to know about cognitive psychology and what implications it has for classroom teaching. It would be particularly useful for subjects which have a lot of content and knowledge to get through as this strand looks at study skills.

What aspects of teaching would we look at?

There would be a wide range of techniques and strategies to discuss from developing effective memorisation techniques such practice retrieval, interleaving and the forgetting curve to Willingham’s nine principles. (See below)

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 18.04.57

Why don’t students like school?



What Should Be Practiced?

Not everything can be practiced extensively. There simply isn’t time, but fortunately not everything needs to be practiced.The benefits that I’ve said will accrue on practice provide some direction as to what sorts of things should be practiced. If practice makes mental processes automatic, we can then ask, Which processes need to become automatic? Retrieving number facts from memory seems to be a good candidate, as does retrieving letter sounds from memory.A science teacher may decide that his students need to have at their fingertips basic facts about elements. In general, the processes that need to become automatic are probably the building blocks of skills that will provide the most benefit  if they are automatized. Building blocks are the things one does again and again in a subject area, and they are the prerequisites for more advanced work.


I have claimed that these principles can make a real difference, but that claim is not meant to imply that applying the principles is easy (Just take my secret tips and boom! You’re a great teacher!”) All of the principles listed in Table 1 0.1 must be leavened with good sense, and any of them can be taken too far or twisted out of shape. What then is the role of cognitive science in educational practice if it cannot offer firm prescriptions?

Education is similar to other fields of study in that scientific findings are useful but not decisive. An architect will use principles of physics in designing an o ice building, but she will also be guided by aesthetic principles that are outside of science’s realm. Similarly, knowledge of cognitive science can be helpful in planning what you teach and how, but it is not the whole story.