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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Navigating the sea of Pedagogy

It seems teaching methods, pedagogy,  how pupils learn and the never ending quest for the elusive 'Outstanding' lesson are in the newspaper, on T.V. and all forms of social media daily. 

So what is pedagogy? Below are two dictionary definitions but beware it seems even the definition of the word pedagogy brings on a debate. 

the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept - Oxford Dictionary 

the study of the methods and activities of teaching - Cambridge Dictionary

So how do we, the teachers on the 'chalk face' survive this daily bombardment? How do we know we are doing the right thing? Below are some of my survival tips, the ways in which I navigate my way through the often rough perils of the pedagogy sea:

1. Use a variety of teaching methods - a good mix of collaborative learning, student led enquiry and dare I say 'talk and chalk' or maybe to be right up to date I should say 'talk and whiteboard pen'

2. Have fun - I really believe that happy, relaxed pupils learn better but even if this can't be proved statistically what I do know for sure is it makes my teaching experience better. It's a bit like being a parent having to suffer Butlins when you would sooner be basking in the sun of the Med. If the 'kids' are happy the parents are happy. 

3. Keep up to date with technology and all technological advancements - we live in a digital world and our pupils certainly do. We owe it to them to talk their digital language and prepare them to navigate the digital world safely. 

4. Use rigorous methods of assessment - marking shouldn't just be a 'policy' exercise but clear and purposeful. Use both assessment of and assessment for learning. You need to know where your pupils are and what they need to do to get to the next level. 

5. Teach topics which are relevant to your pupils - the children learn and engage so much in a good topic. Keep it to a specific focus i.e. Literacy, History or Geograhy led but encompassing as many of the other areas as possible. 

6. Get to know your pupils really well - this helps you to target them specifically, teach them using their preferred style and be in tune when they are having problems both in and out of school. Knowledge really is power in order to teach effectively. 

7. Have routines - children really do like to know what they need to do when they first come into school in morning, what happens when they finish a piece of work, who gives out the pencils etc. But also keep them on their toes by mixing things up now and again! 

8. Don't over plan - lesson plans should be structured around the learning objectives but should not be overly detailed because this doesn't allow for 'reactive teaching' those times when the children actually lead the learning. 

9. Be prepared to abandon all plans for unexpected events in the news. One of my best lessons came from the discovery  of Richard the thirds remains. 

10. Keep you professional development up to date - you really do owe it to yourself and your pupils. For me Twitter and Pinterest are my daily professional development. Pinterest provides a never ending supply of resources and ideas whilst Twitter keeps me informed about the world of education and connected with some great educators. 

11. Finally be confident in what you do - as long as your pupils are happy, engaged and making progress you must be doing something right!!

These are my top sailing the sea of pedagogy tips hope they are useful or maybe you can suggest some to add to my list.