Most teachers live in fear of OFSTED, and with an inspection imminent in my school, I can readily identify with that feeling at the moment! I was reassured, therefore, to read this blog post recently which reports the answer Michael Wilshaw, the Head of OFSTED, gave when asked to describe a good teacher.
Wilshaw commented two teachers in his previous school were successful,
because they developed a style of teaching with which they were comfortable, not complacent… and which they knew worked. It worked because children really enjoyed their lessons; were engaged; were focused; learnt a great deal and made real progress.
He went on to say,
For me a good lesson is about what works… So this is a plea, this evening, for pragmatism not ideology in the way we judge the quality of teaching.
We should be wary of too much prescription. In my experience a formulaic approach pushed out by a school or rigidly prescribed in an inspection evaluation schedule traps too many teachers into a stultifying and stifling mould which doesn’t demand that they use their imagination, initiative and common sense. Too much direction is as bad as too little.
Wilshaw then made five points about being a good teacher:
- Planning is everything, but at the same time lesson planning should be a framework to give flexibility, not a rigid plan to be adhered to at all costs;
- Teachers need to be reflective. Plans should be adapted when things don’t go well, and amended after the lesson. Teachers should talk a lot about their teaching to others, should be willing to go into other teachers’ classrooms, and be willing for their colleagues to come into theirs;
- Teachers should be perceptive, and understand the dynamics of a classroom. They should be highly interventionist and know how to dictate the pace of a lesson;
- Teachers should understand that nothing is taught unless it is learned. Success should be measured on whether children are learning and making progress;
- Teachers should be resilient people who are able to withstand the slings and arrows and occasional paper dart unflinchingly. The best teachers should make sure children know who is in charge and responsible for setting the boundaries of acceptable behaviour.
Wilshaw also described what OFSTED do not want to see:
We do not want to see teaching simply designed to impress the inspectors. We don’t want to see lessons which are more about classroom entertainment and promoting the personality of the teacher than embedding children’s learning in a meaningful way.
I don’t know about you, but I find that extremely reassuring!
What do you think of Wilshaw’s comments? Do share your thoughts below!