Edfest: Dylan Wiliam

Dylan is talking about leadership for better teaching.

He starts by pointing out issues with educational research: it tells you what was, not what might be, and mostly doesn’t consider the conditions under which the research is carried out.

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Feedback requires the teacher knowing the students, and the students to trust the teacher, to be effective. Feedback might be an important part of teaching but it is dependent on teacher and class. Teacher quality is more important than many other factors, eg smaller class sizes don’t work if you end up allowing the bottom 10% of teachers to teach them.

There is a high correlation between teacher quality and student learning. What school you go to in this country doesn’t matter much, but what teachers you get has a massive impact. The best teachers see the same progress among advantaged and disadvantaged students, though it isn’t clear why.

There’s no correlation between degree classification and teacher ability. We can’t tell a good teacher by looking at them, either – which makes inspections pretty worthless. The slides Dylan presents provide evidence for this and are on his website, http://www.dylanwiliam.net/
They’re enlightening. Classroom enrichment and instruction have a marginal I,pact, whereas planning and operation don’t. The problem with saying his is that it could easily be used by a poor teacher to avoid planning their lessons, couldn’t it?

Expertise in teaching is similar to expertise in other areas. Practice makes perfect. 10,000 hours is referenced. once a great violinist has reached a certain amount of practice, it is impossible for others to catch up. Deliberate practice is vital. A teacher with 20 years experience may just have one year of experience repeated 20 times, which doesn’t lead to mastery. Most teachers stop improving in year 2 or 3 of teaching so getting the brightest and best through the door isn’t going to help. Teaching is so hard to begin with, that you have to improve to survive, but by 2nd or 3rd year, having figured that out, there is no incentive to improve. Teachers should have a moral commitment to wanting to improve their practice until, they either retire or die. Commit to improve your teaching and focus on those things that make a difference to students, not because you’re not good enough, but because you can be even better.

He who would be a leader must be a bridge – a Welsh proverb, provides a good motto for leaders. Provide time for teacher learning and support them in taking risks.

I enjoyed this one a lot.

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