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Principles of Teaching

1. Share intellectual control with students.


Building a sense of shared ownership is an effective way of achieving high levels of student
interest and engagement. It can be achieved in many ways; many of these involve some form of
formal or informal negotiation about parts or all of the content, tasks or assessment. Another
complementary approach is to ensure that students' questions, comments and suggestions
regularly influence, initiate (or terminate) what is done.
2. Look for occasions when students can work out part (or all) of
the content or instructions.
Learning is almost always better if students work something out for themselves, rather than
reading it or hearing it. This is not always feasible of course, but often it is. It can involve short,
closed tasks: e.g. 'if the units of density are grams per cm work out the formula by which we
calculate the density of a substance from the volume and mass of an object made of that
substance'. It can also involve much longer open-ended tasks: e.g.'Here is a photo of the ruins of
Machu Pichu, work out as much as you can, from this photo, about the Incas and their fate'.
3. Provide opportunities for choice and independent decision-
making.
Students respond very positively to the freedom to make some decisions about what or how they
will work. To be effective, the choices need to be genuine, not situations where there is really only
one possibility. These may include choices about which area of content to explore, the level of
demand (do more routine tasks or fewer more demanding ones), the form of presentation (poster,
powerpoint presentation, role play, model etc.),and how to manage their time during a day or
lesson.
4. Provide diverse range of ways of experiencing success.
Raising intellectual self-esteem is perhaps the most important aspect of working with low and
moderately achieving students. Success via interactive discussion, question-asking, role-plays and
tasks allowing high levelsof creativity often results in greater confidence and hence persistence in
tackling other written tasks. Publicly recognising and praising good learning behaviours is useful
here.
5. Promote talk which is exploratory, tentative and hypothetical.
This sort of talk fosters link-making and, as our research shows, commonly reflects high levels of
intellectual engagement. Teaching approaches such as delayed judgement, increased wait-time,
promotion of 'What If' questions and use of P.O.Es are all helpful. The classroom becomes more
fluid and interactive.
6. Encourage students to learn from other students' questions
and comments.
The (student) conception that they can learn from other students ideas, comments and questions
develops more slowly than the conception that discussion is real and useful work. The classroom
dynamics can reach new, very high levels when ideas and debate bounce around from student to
student, rather than student to teacher.
7. Build a classroom environment that supports risk-taking.
We underestimated the very high levels of perceived risk that accompanies many aspects of
quality learning for most students, even in classes where such learning is widespread. It is much
safer, for example, to wait for the teacher's answer to appear than to suggest one yourself.
Building trusts in the teacher and other students and training students to disagree without
personal put-downs are essential to widespread display of good learning behaviours.
8. Use a wide variety of intellectually challenging teaching
procedures.
There are at least two reasons for this, one is that teaching procedures that counter passive
learning and promote quality learning require student energy and effort. Hence they need to be
varied frequently to retain their freshness. The other is that variety is another source of student
interest.
9. Use teaching procedures that are designed to promote specific
aspects of quality learning.
One of the origins of PEEL was the belief that students could be taught how to learn, in part by
devising a range of teaching procedures to variously tackle each of a list of poor learning
tendencies, for example failing to link school work to relevant out-of-school experiences. The
variety in (8) is not random and one basis for selecting a particular teaching procedure is to
promote a particular aspect of quality learning.
10. Develop students' awareness of the big picture: how the
various activities fit together and link to the big ideas.
Many, if not most students, do not perceive schooling to be related to learning key ideas and
skills. Rather, they see their role as completing tasks and so they focus on what to do not why they
are doing it. Much teacher talk, particularly in skills based areas such as Mathematics, Grammar
and Technology reinforces this perception. For these reasons, students (including primary
students) commonly do not link activities and do not make links to unifying, 'big ideas'.
11. Regularly raise students' awareness of the nature of different
aspects of quality learning.
This is a key aspect of learning how to learn. Students typically have no vocabulary to discuss
learning. it is very helpful to build a shared vocabulary and shared understandings by regular,
short debriefing about some aspect of the learning that has just occurred. Having a rotating
student monitor of a short list of good learning behaviours can be very helpful.
12. Promote assessment as part of the learning process.
Students (and sometimes teachers) typically see assessments as purely summative: something
that teachers do to students at the end of a topic.Building the perception that (most) assessment
tasks are part of the learning process includes encouraging students learning from what they did
and did not do well as well as having students taking some ownership of and responsibility for
aspects of assessment. It also includes teachers ensuring that they are assessing for a range of
aspects of quality learning (eg if you want students linking different lessons then reward that in
your assessment) and for a wider range of skills than is often the case.