My ResearchED talk from Rugby

Having the opportunity to speak at ResearchED Rugby was a real honour, and the event was simply a wonderful occasion. I met lots of incredibly friendly people, and I was incredibly inspired by their passion and willingness to improve the educational landscape, a passion I certainly share. A huge thanks goes to Jude Hunton for asking me to speak, and organising a superb event.

The rough transcript of my talk is below, and a link to the slideshow here. Please let me know if you can’t access it.

Teaching English is simply wondrous. But it’s hard too. There’s so much at stake, so much to do. Getting the pedagogical balance between the art of teaching and the science of teaching is difficult, imperative, but also EXCITING.  

In my practice, I was too heavy on the art – and not enough on the science, which ironically obstructed and even obfuscated the curriculum from shining through. 

We know what the art of teaching English includes: the purposeful curation and presentation of incredible texts, texts that become windows to the soul, texts that teach us so much about the word, but perhaps more poignantly, teach us about ourselves. We know how powerful the art of expression can be, to be able to express oneself with clarity, precision and insight. And we know how useful it can be to become artful in connecting with students as much as possible, to know the best way to keep them motivated, to become a part of their learning journey, and become inspiration that they never forget. But when I don’t consider the processes that enable students to learn or consider how to make the delivery of content as efficient as possible to assist understanding and retainment of that content, I create an imbalance. 

I know that this imbalance between the art of teaching and the science leads to learning gaps – leads to the Matthew effect taking over. The Matthew effect is exacerbated when students with culturally rich background knowledge are able to absorb and withstand poor instruction whereas those without the background can’t. This is because the culturally rich background allows students to feed off the reserves of cultural fat, whereas those without it emaciate with insipid instruction.  

We know this is a blight in modern schooling – which we must address in the limited time our students spend in front of us.  

So, in today’s session, I want to go through what I believe have been barriers to better teaching and thus better learning by my students, with the largest, and one I’ll spend the most time on, incremental design, taking up much of the focus.  

One of the first significant barriers was a lack of understanding about cognition. Fortunately, research has provided us with what could only be referred to as a game changer – by Sweller – and I’m not only saying that because he’s a fellow Australian. Understanding cognitive load in designing sequences of learning is crucial. Awareness of working memory and its function and poignantly its limitations in learning should ultimately be driving all curriculum decisions. 

This leads onto the next game changer – memory. Prehension of how to assist students retaining information has guided my lessons, with quizzing prevalent in most lessons, and me consciously interweaving concepts and using elaborative retrieval to help students make connections and strengthen memory. I’ve written about various strategies to assist the retainment of content, from creating a story around the curriculum to allow or greater connections between texts and themes, as well as varying retrieval exercises, and finally, utilising the notion of elaborative retrieval, which again , via making connections through storytelling facilitates the triggering of multiple neural paths to arrive at a desired memory.  

The learning scientists are the go to people for discussing memory, with good explanations offered for students themselves to assist their metacognition. 

The 3rd aspect of cognition is dual coding. I would recommend you see Oliver Cavliogli talk about this, but… he is speaking next door right now, so I guess I have to tell you. Well actually let me use another of the greats to explain it: the brain has 2 channels for learning: auditory (listening and reading) and visual (images). What Chris has done here is to help students remember the entire story of Romeo and Juliet, almost using images as a trigger for retrieval – it essentially becomes an elaboration method, where there is now another possible neural path for the memory to travel.  

This is most definitely the next wave of teaching and learning. 

So now I have a better understanding of these, I remove a barrier to learning. 

The next hurdle was a pandemic plague on education – the obsession with observation and progress. Bjork points out that learning can’t really be measured or observed in a single session – and it’s because of again the understanding of cognition – retrieval strength vs storage – if information was just delivered, it’s going to be fresh, and able to be recalled easily – seeing progress then in a lesson is a false claim. Better off coming back a few days later. I discuss this here in this post about smashing observation – if you have to go through it – show off what your students have been learning over time – deliver lessons that demonstrate learning over time.  

Another one bites the dust! 

Teaching to the test. A pernicious beast! Understandable with accountability. Daisy Christodoulou obliterates the notion, explaining that it actually doesn’t make any logical sense anyway. What is assessed is taken from a domain, and we if assume a certain section, and another comes up in the exam, then we’ve done a huge disservice to our students. A better idea is to teach the domain. 

A concomitant to this is understanding the domain. Taking the time to work it out is crucial – but also being pragmatic. You can’t teach everything, and I think this is a trap for teachers, wanting, with good intention, to teach the world. For example, it’s probably better to teach KS3 story writing as a 45 minute story – to match the GCSE task – this is because it takes a long time to develop writing skills, and narrowing the scope of style will help ensure mastery, or allow us to get closer to it at least. Of course, this tends to run counter to the ideal of English, the romance of it all, freedom of expression and open ended creativity, but it’s not practical – we can’t have it all, and if we try, we might end up with nothing.   

Adapting teaching based on progress of students is a seminal idea by Dylan Wiliam. Far be it for me to add anything to it, but I wander if teachers would be better advised in ensuring delivery of content is incremental so as to avoid moments where pivoting is needed? 

Again, we get closer to where we want to be. 

The final, rather large barrier, is poorly designed curriculum that either isn’t progressive, or doesn’t have the precision to ensure mastery is possible.  

I want to discuss this in 3 contexts: a pragmatic approach, with teachers walking into lessons tomorrow, designing a unit of work, and designing a whole curriculum.  

For teachers considering adapting practice tomorrow, which of course is all of us at some point, I’m going to zoom in on these 3 ideas: 

Modelling: I’ve learnt a great deal from these 3 educators, with Andy Tharby illustrating the usefulness of the I, We, You approach – an apprenticeship approach very much in line with Rosenshine’s principles of Instruction.  

I have added to this concept with the notion of the 4th dimension: the student model – based on the idea that a good student model may be of more use to other students than my model – the curse of knowledge playing a part, but also the register and vernacular may be better suited –especially for struggling students.  

Sarah Barker’s assiduous approach is brilliant – not even allowing any writing to happen until students have absorbed multiple views of the process.  

And tom Needham’s worked example approach, enormously beneficial in reducing cognitive load and in assisting strengthening of writing.   

I’ve been working on the design of a creative writing unit with a very pragmatic approach incorporating the strategies above.  

My view is that at GCSE level, students must know how to write for the 45 minutes. As a base, I have students follow a structure design – with no exceptions. I want to avoid common complaints of lack of creativity = no writing. The structure helps build connections to the main character, and provides a relatively simple plan to develop a decent story. There are 4 sections: which you can read here: a part of a portfolio type assessment, with 2 stories needed to be written before the closed book assessment.  

*Go through sections and comprehension activity and individual sentence design. 

The findings of this approach have been very positive: Very weak students copied model – which is fine, because now they at least have an embedded structure to work from, whereas previsously they would have ended the unit with nothing. Some made minor adjustments to plot; Some were able to use prompts to write an alternative story; Those who chose different structure for second story could evaluate. It led to the development of exam length stories for students to read and become inspired by stories, and to see models of what is required/possible. 

The second consideration to improve teaching overnight is loosely linked to modelling: direct instruction – Tom’s blog again is worth a read in learning about this, based on work by Engelmann. 

Follow through project: monitored the progress of at risk students using multiple models of learning. What the results showed was that for basic skills like reading and maths and language, direct instruction outperformed compared to most other models. Interesting, and poignantly, DI outperformed other models in cognitive abilities: higher order thinking particularly, including against models that explicitly try to develop these skills: open education, discovery learning.  

I’ll allow you to read this: 

And this: 

As you can see, it’s all about mastery before the next stage is introduced. 

It’s certainly going to dominate things from here I believe.  

The 3rd immediate improvement I have made is to write. Stemming from a request by a high-level student for some reading on particular topic, I observed that learners really didn’t have anything to read – there wasn’t anything bespoke for GCSE length.  

So, I started the ball rolling – having a blast along the way, and gaining valuable insight into how themes etc can be discussed, in timed conditions, and developing points in a response. It’s also been amazing fun. It led to developing CLOUD 9 WRITING, where students from around the globe could submit essays of high quality – to read, to learn. Please help me by adding submissions to the platform. 

The second context for avoiding incremental design flaws is in planning a unit of work. I want to approach this from an assessment angle.  

Let’s take a poetry unit in KS3. What I want to demonstrate here is that each assessed component is an individual thing, a component that can be isolated when giving feedback. As soon as you start adding multiple assessable aspects it makes it harder to isolate issues and intervene.  

*go through each phase of the assessment cycle. 

The final element is designing a whole curriculum, and I want to focus on what is an intrinsic part of what we do: grammar.  

Originally, this arose from a state of apoplexy with the pervasive crime of comma splicing.  

I used Daisy Christodoulou’s thinking from the seminal Making good Progress and considered that issues need to be unravelled, and the key components taught in isolation.  

But I realised that it’s not as simple as it seems. There are huge barriers to students becoming really comfortable with components of a main clause, critical knowledge in deciding how to punctuate clauses.  

The 2 main issues are a lack of sequenced schemes of learning in working from the basics. Of course, there are immeasurable numbers of grammar lessons online and in books, but nothing that suitably goes through bit by bit, and written for a secondary level student. So, I have decided to design it:  

*play animation of design 

What it needs of course is for students to master each stage before moving on – another aspect severely lacking in current offerings. This means taking each section and providing activities that ensure mastery, with each new section building and consolidating. 

Here, I’ve designed the sequence of activities. Notice that the activity is carefully planned so as not to include other word classes that could confuse this section – for example, including gerunds or anomalies. There is a mix of correct and incorrect examples to ensure guessing isn’t a successful strategy, and each type of word class has a summative section that tests each specific type in combination.  

Mastery of each is crucial, as the next stage builds on this one.  

So I have a plan – I have the scheme designed already, and lots of activities. I want to include videos to enhance the learning of specific knowledge (dual coding) AND I WANT TO UTILISE ADAPTIVE TECHNOLOGIES TO help students achieve mastery –this can then be done as intervention, in tutoring, at home etc.  

There might be other ways of teaching grammar, but for me it has helped students with punctuation, because I can discuss with them why the comma shouldn’t be there.  

It’s also opened up the opportunity for me to deliver much more precise feedback in writing. It’s allowed me to discuss language much more in class, with comfort. It’s empowered students, helping them gain confidence in understanding more about the language they use every day, and opens their abilities in using language for effect.  

So when attention is paid to incremental design flaws, in fact, when we pay attention to all of these barriers to learning, we eliminate them, and we restore the balance – we provide opportunity for the art of what we do to flourish. 

So, in summary,  

  1. English teaching can become more of a science 
  1. We can eliminate learning gaps by considering research 

Thank you 

I’m Paul Moss. Follow me @edmerger and follow this blog for more English teaching resources.


Observations can be daunting. I’ve rarely come across anyone who enjoys them. But they can be beat; after all, you’re an excellent teacher!

 Here’s a possible sequence of teaching that will satisfy those seeking reassurance that what you are teaching is benefitting the students.

1. Begin with a Retrieval activity

Professor Coe

One of the biggest arguments against learning walks and observations is their lack of validity in producing what they set out to do: evidence of learning. Observing students introduced to new content and answering questions based on the content is actually not a sign that learning has taken place. How could this be? 

David Didau’s excellent new book Making Kids Cleverer explains how: ‘The higher the retrieval strength of an item of memory – that is how easy it is for us to recall a piece of information right now, the smaller the gains in storage strength from additional study or practice. If something is highly accessible, virtually no learning can happen.” (Ch6 p167).

Essentially what this means is that if we teach something in a lesson, the likelihood of students being able to recall it or retrieve it in the immediate lesson is very high. For example, if you teach someone the capital of Australia and ask them several times in the space of 1 minute to tell you the answer, they will undoubtedly respond correctly. Even if you wait, say 20 minutes, despite other information entering the short-term memories of students and the answer being pushed further back, it is still relatively easily accessible after such a short time. It’s quite clear that you couldn’t safely say they have really learnt it though.

To really prove the content is understood, asking students in a couple of lessons is the real test (and ideally even longer), as by then, significant amounts of other content would have superseded the present information about the capital of Australia. It is at this point that we can increase the durability of the memory by reintroducing it. It is the durability of the memory that is essential. If a student can tell you the content after a considerable length of time has passed, then you can be certain they have learnt it.

Of course, sometimes after many years we will forget content that we certainly did know at one time: otherwise we wouldn’t have passed most of our exams. But that is about forgetting items over many (for me, many many) years. For our students, if they can’t recall information after 2 months then that is an issue. This is why retrieval activities are so important, as they provide students the opportunity to strengthen the durability of the memories of content, that allow them to use that content when and as necessary. If an observer sees your students answering questions from a range of topics, which clearly couldn’t have all been taught in very recent learning moments, then they could safely say that you have been and therefore are teaching well. You must have provided multiple opportunities for memories to be made more durable. 

If students can’t recall the information you’ve taught previously, then it is a sign to the observer that it needs to be reintroduced. How do you respond – do you think on your feet and reteach it? I would. Do you then ask the observer to come back another time to demonstrate the learning – I would!

There are many types of retrieval activities, and I have written about them here and here

2. Show off your questioning ability.

To effectively draw out responses from students to prove their learning, skill in the art of questioning is crucial. Observers want to see that everyone in your classroom is benefitting from your teaching, and so questioning serves to highlight this. Questioning facilitates an inclusive learning space, as you bounce questions around the room, carefully ensuring you keep them alive and checking the learning of multiple students with just a single question. You use answers to deepen learning, asking students to extend their own or another student’s response, and importantly, to make connections with other topics as you go. When students can answer questions about your whole curriculum, then any observer is going to be impressed, as it not only demonstrates one of the ultimate goals of learning of making connections with the wider world, but also serves to demonstrate that the student is moving closer to mastery, being able to see the deep structures of the domain of knowledge. If you’re moving students from novice to mastery, then you’re winning. 

I have written about effective questioning techniques here.  Also Ben Crocket has written an excellent blog here, and Doug Lemov has talked about this for years.   

3. Modelling 

Once students have the content to articulate their thoughts, they need to be shown how to go about translating those thoughts into writing. Often, as teachers we miss this crucial step, and assume that once content is secure, students will automatically be able to respond in writing. Being able to model how to write responses effectively is incredibly useful for your students as it helps them internalise the processes of writing. Sarah Barker, Andy Tharby and Tom Needham wonderfully explain how to go about it, but significantly, modelling will equip your students with the ability to engage with the writing task because you have set them up with the tools to do it. But before you model, you have to understand where students are on the journey from novice to expert, another sign of good teaching; information garnered from formative and summative assessment. This will determine the levels of scaffold you provide in your modelling.

Technology for technology’s sake is pointless, but utilising the function of OneNote to maximise the modelling process is a good example of technology benefitting the learning environment. I have written about the rationale of using it here, as well as actually how to do it, and not only will it aid the modelling process and strengthen student understanding of effective writing, it will also be seen as innovative by your observer, which is always a nice bonus. 

4. Student books

Student books can often be seen as a proxy for learning, a trap your observer may fall into. The issues with book scrutiny are well documented by Sarah Barker, but if books WILL be looked at, you can guide the observer in the right direction to again demonstrate learning over time. My students have two books: one for classwork, the other for assessment. If you know the observer in coming in, have students’ assessment books on their tables, so the observer can see how you have provided feedback for students to improve, and critically, how students have responded. How smart your targets are for improvement will also indicate a good understanding of teaching, as you demonstrate insight into how a student can improve by specifically stating the next steps. I’ve written about pragmatic marking here, and specific targets here. If there is going to be any possible evidence of learning happening in books, then assessment books that show improvements in writing may be the only answer. 

Teaching the observer

Overall, whilst learning walks and observations have serious limitations in ascertaining how much learning is happening in your classroom, you can demonstrate quality teaching by showing off how much your students know and how well you elicit the information from them, how well you understand their levels of ability, and consequently, how well you scaffold the learning space for maximum achievement. Any observer seeing these things happening is sure to get a sense that you are teaching well, and that your students are in good hands because they are clearly learning. 

I’m Paul Moss. Follow me on Twitter @edmerger, and follow this blog for more articles about education and English teaching

Summative assessment is king!

 Poor old summative assessment. For so long now you’ve been the whipping boy of education, the outlet for frustrated teachers, the cause of ire for students. You’ve been misunderstood, had poor instructional design conflated with you, been accused of destroying lives. But you’ve survived, recently gained in power, and are slowly, but surely, beginning to be perceived in your rightful edict as the only true way of assessing what has been taught.

Its’ only anecdotal, but it’s probably not a wild assertion that summative assessment has acquired a bad name. To wave the summative assessment banner nowadays you’d have to be rather brave, or mad. In an age of ‘enlightened’ pedagogy, summative assessment is all too easily equated with draconian out-of-date practice, and deemed antithetical to modern teaching and learning. To espouse and exhort its benefits is tantamount to poking the bear. Well maybe I am mad, as I’m often accused having moved from the Antipodes to England, but I currently believe summative assessment to be an important tool in gauging how my students can piece together everything I’ve been teaching them.

I understand teachers’ contestations. Ostensibly, summative assessment equals teaching to the test. Cue, and quite rightly, abhorrence, as it is the devil’s work indeed, culminating in shallow and narrow learning, robotic lifeless engagement, and factory-like production. Add to this the consequential inexorable data accumulation, leading to lurid league tables, and it’s easy to see why teachers and a society interested in equality in general have turned their back on standardised testing. But the conflation, whilst pervasive, is inaccurate, because to put it plainly, to succeed in summative testing, the worst thing to do is to teach to the test.

This statement seems somewhat provocative. How can teaching to the test be an inefficient way of learning to succeed in the test? It’s counter-intuitive, surely? Well let’s get into some analogies, a highly effective teaching technique, to explain the apparent anomaly.

If your ultimate goal is to lift a rather heavy object, simply repeatedly trying to lift it will not result in it actually eventuating, as your muscles are not sufficiently developed to lift such a weight. Learning to play Mozart in front of a packed full auditorium is not best achieved by playing Mozart to a packed auditorium, unless both you and the crowd are into some form of sadism, as your fingers couldn’t possibly move as adequately as was required. Running a marathon is not best trained for by running marathons, as your lack of stamina would continuously result in exhaustion and non-completion. Metaphorically (and literally) you can’t jump in the deep end and learn to swim. Of course, you may eventually, and some do, including some very successful humans, but it is a highly inefficient strategy, and most will metaphorically drown. The more effective approach is to isolate the processes that lead to the overall performance, practice each repeatedly, and incrementally make the tasks more difficult once each is sufficiently mastered. This will serve to slowly but surely build the necessary strength/skill/knowledge required to perform the summative act.

Learning is no different.

The whole is to the sum of its parts as summative assessment is to …… Can you guess what? To achieve success in a summative test, like writing a sustained analysis of a text, or building a brick wall (insert a summative assessment from your subject), students need to work deliberately and discretely on the smaller skills that go towards making up that final skill. They need to develop the parts that make the whole. Trying to improve students’ performance on summative tests by simply giving them those tests to practise is like asking them to run before they can walk. And this is why teaching to the test is a waste of time, and the reason why teachers must absolve summative testing from such shackles. Without such extrication, its power and potential as a learning tool will be forever lost.

Falling into the ‘teaching to the test trap’ is made all the easier by the seeming lack of interconnectedness between formative tasks and their summative parents. Often, the formative tasks don’t resemble the exam, and focusing on them can seem like missed opportunities to move towards progress. When we consider how much pressure there is on teachers to achieve targets, the fear is very understandable. However, the only way to ever alleviate fear is through greater understanding, and because all good teachers are good learners, the adjustment becomes less a leap of faith and more an assertion of sensible pedagogy.

What it looks like in action

Take as an example trying to improve the speed of student writing in a timed assessment. The seemingly correct strategy would be to just provide the students with a task that looked similar to the desired final product, say a 45-minute writing analysis. But the problem is that students who can’t sustain writing for 45 minutes, when given the 45-minute task, capitulate at the same point in the task, every time. They get exhausted. The better approach is to build their stamina via significantly shorter tasks. For example, I provide my students with mini extracts and set a 7-minute time limit on the writing. Initially, the expectation is that they will discuss one technique used by the author in that time. After several such tasks, and when the students are comfortable with that amount of writing, I will expect 2 techniques. I then increase the time to 12 minutes, but require 3 techniques discussed, and so on. As the time slowly increases, students are comfortably able to sustain their writing: their concentration levels have been trained; their reading skills have been trained; even their hand muscles have been trained.

Of course the pedagogy is not restricted to English or writing tasks. It doesn’t matter what your subject: building skills is essential if you want students to succeed in a summative assessment of your course.

More support for summative

Another reason why summative assessment is king compared to its lowly relative is that formative assessment can often become simply a proxy for learning, with teachers and students believing they are learning because they are doing work and answering questions. Carl Hendrick, Adam Boxer, and Dawn Cox suggest that if students aren’t able to represent the learning at a later date (a process that would be summative in nature) then it could be argued that they haven’t really learnt the material. This has enormous implications for single lesson observations that are carried out in the hope of assessing student progress. It’s really only in the summative test that real progress can be measured, as students are tested on a range of skills taken from the domain of learning undertaken in the course, and have to have committed the skills to the level of automaticity. This is why Ofsted is so reliant on exam results above all else, and has no conflict of interest in promoting that how schools achieve the results is irrelevant to them.

This above insight renders the fallacious, but common insistence on using a summative test at the beginning of a course to set up some relative data, delusory. Often presented in the guise of ‘seeing where the students are at’, the results don’t tell the teacher anything at all in terms of what the students know, because the students couldn’t possibly produce what the summative assessment is seeking: they haven’t taken the course yet. The result is an uninformed teacher who can’t use the test formatively as the reasons for lack of performance could be numerous and are indistinct, and a student deflated and demoralised before you’ve even taught them anything. Those old days of shooting myself in the foot! What you are better off doing is issuing multiple tests. The tests would seek current student understanding of the key skills you know will be needed to build overall competency in your course, but in isolation. You can then use the results formatively, and develop a scheme of work to build the skills necessary to move towards the exam at the end, leaving the summative assessment to, well, the end.

The incredible Making Good Progress by Daisy Christodoulou articulates the argument far more succinctly than I, and without any shadow of doubt, is a must read for all involved in assessment of students.

A final thought is that the quality of summative tests can have a large bearing on the claim made in the title of this article, but that is best left for another post. For now, I’ll leave you with the repeated utterance: Summative assessment is king!


I’m @edmerger

Turn Observation On Its Head

Turning observation on its head

I bet when you saw the image above it shocked you in some way. If you’re a teacher, I bet you instantly wondered if you w/sh/could do it, and I bet if you were SLT you wished your staff already did. Reactions I’ve had from it so far include ‘how brave’ to ‘how crazy’ to ‘that’s inspired’ to ‘what a brown nose’. But the hyperbolic reactions don’t surprise me, because being observed, no matter what anyone says or desires to be true, still remains a teacher’s most hated part of teaching, and having someone actively seek it out is …..well, just hyperbolically irregular.

For a long time I preferred to be left alone in my classroom. Here’s why:

  • I was confident I was doing a good job.
  • I was confident that I could self-identify issues if or when they arose.
  • Having someone in the room made me a little nervous, and I felt slightly unnatural as I went about my craft.
  • I thought what I was doing in the room could be judged out of context.

But in reality, I was depriving myself of an enormous opportunity to become a better teacher, because having others observe my teaching is now giving me a springboard from which to grow very quickly. As you can see in the poster I stick up on my classroom door (but not for every lesson by the way), I am asking for feedback on areas that I believe are key to an effective lesson. Having more frequent insights into that process acts like formative assessment for me. I am forever banging on about the importance of formative assessment for my students, and its ability to provide better snapshots of skills acquired, so subjecting myself to the same process only seems logical. In fact, it would not only be ironic to my students to observe me shying away from such a process, but hypocritical.

I realise now that I actually have nothing to lose in the process of observation. If I am doing a good job, then the feedback will indicate so. If I am not doing a good job, the feedback means I can adjust accordingly, and do it quickly and NOW, rather than being told in a major observation. Yes it’s painful to hear criticism of your own teaching, but I’ll take that pain over the pain of being told in a formal observation any day. In terms of the last two bullets above, my nerves of having someone else in the room are disappearing, as I’m not only getting used to the fact, but more significantly I’m also getting better at the skills I am focussing on, MY TARGETS, which results in better lessons. In fact, I am really proud when someone comes in now and the class is moving forward really nicely, and I have little fear that someone will take anything out of context – learning is happening, and it is undeniable.

Interestingly, asking someone to come into your room also creates a really different dynamic in the observer. You have asked for feedback on specific areas, and that is what will be focused on, and if your observer is from SLT, the joy they will have in your initiative and the wisdom they will impart is well worth the bother. After all, there is nothing better for SLT than to see their teachers wanting to improve. If they see need for development, they will help you get it.

So while working in isolation certainly may seem like an easier option compared to being observed, it is not an effective way to get better. I’ve learnt that the key to embracing observations is all in the approach. Seeing observations as allies rather than enemies is the first step in such a process. Be brave, or crazy, or inspired, or whatever anyone wants to label it, but turn observations on their head, and know that by doing so it will make you a much much better teacher.

Follow me on Twitter @edmerger. There’s more to come!