Autumn Term 2017 was my first term in my new role as School Consultant Teacher for Teaching and Learning. The appointment of SCTs is an initiative of the GDST to increase the evidence based practice in schools, so that the girls receive the best education possible.
We are already working hard, but we can always work smarter. As Head of Psychology, I have always aimed to apply Psychological theory in my choice or development of teaching methods. This additional role has given me a broader scope to disseminate what I have learned, and continue to learn.
I started the term delivering a whole school INSET session with an emphasis on tapping into the cognitive and emotional tendencies which are seen more frequently amongst girls. In my prior experiences in mixed schools, the guidance offered often embedded in ‘boy-friendly’ initiatives, has been to teach to the preferences of the boys in a given class. This has been justified by the observation that boys are more likely to demonstrate their disengagement overtly through disruptive behaviour. The preferences of girls may differ, but that’s OK because they’ll just “get on with it anyway”! Working at NGHS means that our practice can be unashamedly girl-centric. Following my input, departments spent time reviewing schemes of work to ensure that they were a true reflection of what neuroscience has taught us about the special privilege that language based and collaborative activities seem to have as methods to achieve retention and a deep level of understanding.
Another change I am overseeing in the school is in the culture of continuing professional development. At NGHS we are blessed with a highly able and motivated staff body, and the traditional lesson observation cycle just doesn’t seem fit for purpose. We all obtained out positions at this school because we have demonstrated our ability to perform at a high level, and standard lesson observations can often act as a reassuring pat on the back. So many of us are driven to push ourselves to reach our full potential as teachers, and so this year a significant number of staff have opted into much more challenging programmes. 1:1 ‘instructional coaching’ and the Japanese model of collaborative ‘Lesson Study’ are innovative programmes which ensure that as staff, we are as much learners as the girls are.
I am now excited to begin my second term. Having completed in-depth research into the memory processes which underpin learning, I am now ready to roll out my ideas about how we can hack them as a means to prepare our students for the demands of linear GCSE and A Level courses. Watch this space!