Tips and Tools for Parents from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and Professor John Hattie

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1 Tips and Tools for Parents from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and Professor John Hattie What does good teaching look like? Clinical teaching In the medical world, doctors diagnose your condition, and then prescribe a course of treatment - teaching should be the same, and be a clinical practice This means teachers should use evidence gained from the classroom and testing to find out where each student is at, and to understand each child s learning needs. Lessons should then be constantly adapted and shaped accordingly so each child learns and progresses The teacher should be continually evaluating the impact of their teaching and trying to ensure each child, no matter their current ability, is gaining growth in their learning The best teachers target their assessments and use data to find out whether they are having an impact on student learning No matter their ability, whether A+ or academically challenged, each child should have a year s worth of learning growth for every year they re at school Therefore clinical teaching should mean the gifted students don t cruise, and students with less ability don t stagnate The quality of teaching matters most Research by University of Melbourne s Professor John Hattie has found the quality of teaching makes the most difference to students Student teachers should combine theory with practice before they graduate at the University of Melbourne, Masters Teaching students spend two days each week in the classroom Teachers are most effective when they collaborate with each other to share information about what works best to help students progress Students respond best to visible learning where teachers clearly state what the lesson is about Teachers outline the learning goal or intention for each lesson

2 They outline the process that will be followed and the expected outcome, or what each student should know by the end of the class They conduct mini-tests, or question students, to constantly assess if students are following and progressing Teachers can be more effective when they ask students to predict their own test results, and then push them to achieve beyond their own expectations Constructive feedback from teacher to student is critical Teachers should aim to talk less than 50% of the time in class, and should allow time for students to talk, ask questions and discuss what they re learning. This enhances student engagement and learning. Choosing a school for your child why the lush playing fields and the 500-seat theatre matter less than you think. If you re interested in your child maximising their learning, these are the things that do matter: Effective schools are a result of effective, enthusiastic teachers Focus on the schools attitude to teachers and teaching how much professional development is offered for teachers? Do teachers routinely collaborate and meet to work out the most effective ways to teach their subject? Are students continually assessed by their teacher so the teacher can adapt lessons to their learning needs? Find out what you can about staff turnover and staff morale Do teachers observe one another s teaching and give each other constructive feedback? This is rare in some schools, but open doors in classrooms are vital to effective teaching Does the school interact with other schools in networks to share ideas and promote teaching excellence? Schools with leadership that embraces these factors are proven to help students achieve higher learning growth Does the principal value collaboration and professional development?

3 Are the teachers clinically trained to diagnose students needs and then intervene to help students progress? Do the teachers constantly monitor their own impact in the classroom, to make sure what they are doing is working for the students? Are there effective welfare programs in place to deal with students emotional needs? How is Jane or Johnny going? What you should really be asking at parent-teacher night Parent-teacher night can be an awkward evening but you ll really impress (or possibly embarrass) your child s teacher if you focus on these issues: Rather than only asking about your child s mark or test scores, ask the teacher how your child has improved, and how their learning can progress further Ask about your child s strengths, and how they can be enhanced Ask which areas of the subject are most challenging for your child, and how the teacher is addressing that Focus on your child s learning growth and progression rather than whether they re getting an A, B, C or D Ask about your child s attitude to learning in general Ask if your child is engaged in class and whether they appear to enjoying the subject Ask the teacher how they assess what your child is ready to learn in each lesson Ask how much and what sort of feedback they give your child Do they regularly do formative assessment in class, to get a regular snapshot of your child s learning needs and to make sure they re following and progressing? Does the teacher assess his or her own teaching methods and whether they are working for your child and others? Does the teacher outline learning goals and expected outcomes at the start of each lesson, so the students have a clear understanding of what they are trying to achieve? How does the teacher cater for children of different ability in the class?

4 In general a focus on learning, rather than test scores, will show your child that they are in a family that values education and learning Professor John Hattie, from the University of Melbourne s Graduate School of Education, says a good school will have teachers like this: It s the teacher that walks in to a classroom and says my job here today is to understand my impact. Those are the ones that make the difference. Who are constantly monitoring what they are doing, whether it is working, who it is working on, are they getting that sufficient change, those are the teachers that make the difference. Professor John Hattie says this is what you really should be asking your kids about their school day Most of us ask the same old thing. How was school today? And get the same response. Good. And there the conversation ends Professor Hattie has four children who are now in their 20 s. Here he tells us what he always asked them about their school day. Right through their schooling I asked them the same question every night. Which is, What feedback did you get from your teachers today? The research on feed back says that it is not how much you give, it is how much you receive. I wanted them to be open to listening to what teachers said about their work. I challenge you to try that because it will take you four or five months before you start to get an answer from them, because kids are humans. They don't hear feedback and if they do hear it, often it means they have to do more work, or change. So what I wanted to do with my kids is say, well, just what was your interaction today with the teacher? I am sure it got to the point where they listened during the day, they got some feedback, and they thought well, that will shut up the old bugger tonight so we can move on!

5 But it s really interesting that they struggle to answer that question. That is the reason they go to school, to get that interaction. So don't ask them what have they learnt, or what was the best thing about it. Ask them about that interaction and that feedback because you want your kids to be more attentive to that.

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