Teachers at various stages of their career working within the Oxford Education Deanery have had their work published in recent issues of Impact: the journal of the Chartered College of Teaching, which focuses on teacher and educator perspectives and connects practitioners to research. The May 2017 issue features the work of two teachers: Simon Bayliss, who completed his PGCE and a Masters in Learning and Teaching at Oxford, is a biology teacher and Head of House at Oxford Spires Academy, and Samantha Jones, an Advanced Practitioner and PGCE trainer, completed her MLT at Oxford. Jacob Wilson, whose article features in the Summer 2018 issue, is now enrolled on the MLT and he, too, completed his PGCE at Oxford.
Articles from MLT projects
The article published by Simon Bayliss is a reflection piece he wrote while completing his PGCE work at Oxford. He points out that teachers, particularly those new to the practice, can begin to feel overwhelmed by the complex needs students can have and feel helpless to make a real difference in their lives. He describes how a study conducted by Jung-Sook Lee offered a ray of hope: the study Simon describes measured a wide range of factors impacting on the academic lives of students, finding that while various factors studied were found to impact on school behaviour and engagement, it was the teacher-student relationship which had a significant impact on academic performance (specifically, reading performance). Armed with this realisation, Simon approached his teaching duties with a renewed sense of purpose. This awareness allowed him to develop stronger bonds with his students and to offer more effective pastoral care.
Samantha Jones, an Advanced Practitioner and PGCE trainer, published a piece on promoting effective cooperative learning in the PGCE classroom. Cooperative learning, which she explains is different from collaborative learning, is a skill that can be (and should be) taught, and that a cooperative learning environment needs to be designed, as opposed to being allowed to naturally evolve. Left to their own devices, she points out, it is too easy for even professional students to choose to work, for example, to work in pairs, thereby taking on too much work, or in larger-than-ideal groups, leaving the work to be done by some in the group and others without much opportunity to contribute. She found that in the teaching of this to her PGCE group, it was much more interesting and informative when the PGCE learners tried out the pedagogy being focused on in the class rather than just discussing it. When one of the PGCE learners implemented the cooperative pedagogy in her own classroom and then returned to the PGCE group to discuss it, this allowed for a much more focused and fruitful discussion to occur. Samantha writes that this had the further advantage of allowing ‘teachers to make initial judgements on issues around the practicalities and applicability of cooperative learning to their practice’. Being informed about the real-life use of pedagogies can be a useful way to equip teachers.
Articles from Action Research Fellowship projects
In his article, Jacob Wilson, reports on a small project he carried out in his second year of teaching at King Alfred’s Academy, through the Deanery’s action research fellowship programme. He discusses the value of developing student metacognition, and describes the development and use of a four-stage strategy for helping Year 11 students with GCSE problem solving in maths. Each stage includes a series of questions helping students to make sense of the problem, identify relevant prior knowledge, and devise a plan of attack. These questions were refined over a period of time with input from students. Jake could see how students were using the strategy by looking at their mock papers, where students had underlined key information and had made notes to themselves in the process of solving the problems. Further evidence of effectiveness came from a survey, which asked students to comment on the value of the strategy. They were each able to identify specific questions that they had found particularly helpful in giving them a way forward.