50 questions that the ‘heads on’ teacher is asking (it’s actually 16, but together we can get to 50)

Learners busy dissecting owl poo. But what is the teacher thinking?

I’m pretty new to blogging, and I’m curious about the power it has, so this is a type of experiment. Can Medium significantly increase the ideas we have in our school? Please read on, and make sure you get to the end, as that is where I need your input.

In previous blog posts, I have developed the idea of ‘heads on’ teaching. I developed the idea as a contrast to hands on teaching, where the teacher is always busy, at the centre of the learning process, and dominating the class. As outlined in my previous post, the ‘heads on’ teacher is still busy, just in a different way. Rather than talking, the teacher is thinking.

So, what might the ‘heads on’ teacher be thinking?

In the past two weeks, I have been visiting classrooms, trying to work out what the teacher is thinking, or what s/he might be thinking in order to maximise learning. I found that the effective ‘heads on’ teacher is thinking about a lot of questions:

  1. How can I model most effectively?

2. How can I scaffold the lesson most effectively?

3. How can I support learners as problem solvers?

4. How can I support the learning process whilst continuing to promote learner independence?

5. How can I support learners in their language development?

6. How can I most effectively feedback to learners to make them better now and in the future?

7. How can I effectively manage behaviour?

8. How can I encourage teamwork/ collaboration?

9. How can I reinforce my expectations and standards for learning?

10. How can I keep learners on task?

11. How can I change the dynamic or pace of the learning?

Then I chatted with my colleague, the amazing Jess Rego, and she added a few more questions (which I am borrowing — thanks, Jess)

12. What would be the next activity which could maximise the learning?

13. Who is struggling?

14. Who needs to be pushed to achieve more?

15. How could this be done better next time?

16. What can I do tomorrow to review/recycle/consolidate this?

The initial 16 questions above illustrate that ‘heads on’ teaching is mentally demanding, complex and that it requires skilled practitioners who can prioritise, decide and act in a split second. However, I believe that this list is just the beginning, and that the ‘heads on’ teacher is actually asking a lot more questions than those already mentioned.

I am a great believer in collaboration, teamwork and that great teaching comes about from sharing and borrowing each others’ ideas. Therefore, I would like to challenge everyone who reads this post to add 1 question that the ‘heads on’ teacher is thinking about when facilitating a great lesson. I also believe in aiming high, so I am aiming to collate 50 questions. So, please help! You can post your questions here on Medium, or via Twitter, Facebook or stuart.pollard@ics.uk.net

Thank you, and I look forward to sharing all 50 questions with you shortly (when you have written them).

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