Curiosity, concepts and the power of story – unleashing expert teaching through curriculum in our schools and trusts
In this guest blog, Mary Myatt shares with us her thoughts on how developing and using high quality materials and texts in the classroom helps teachers improve both their practice and their subject knowledge.
Hear more from Mary at our National Conference on 30th January 2024 – register your place here.
The theme of TDT’s National Conference in January is ‘Unleashing Great Teaching’ and I’m delighted to have been asked to offer the closing keynote. As we know, to truly unleash great teaching in a school, all staff need to feel valued and empowered, continuously developed to be experts in their field.
As closing keynote speaker, I shall be taking the theme of ‘Empowered Staff’ and making the case that if we are aiming to create the conditions for colleagues to feel empowered, there might be an underdeveloped aspect of professional development which might be worth exploring.
I shall be proposing that there might be an additional fruitful lens through which to consider professional learning.
Principles for implementing the curriculum
By way of background, I have been thinking about some principles for implementing the curriculum in our classrooms. I have developed three broad rules of thumb about the quality of materials offered to pupils:
- First, they should privilege thinking over task completion
- Second, they should have the potential, over time, to lead pupils to a place of mastery where they can do something on their own terms, in a new context as a result of what I have taught them
- Third, they should reflect the original source of the domain as closely as possible.
If I have these principles in mind, they help to provide a quality assurance bar for what lands on my pupils’ desks.
Linking curriculum to professional learning
So how does this link to professional learning? Well, what I’ve noticed is that if the materials I am using are of the highest quality and are an accurate representation of the domain, then I find that my own subject knowledge increases.
And it seems to me that this is an important aspect of professional development. In a nutshell, if I’m using high quality materials and texts, I get better as a teacher.
I’ll be drawing on some insights from the research about the importance of curiosity, concepts and the power of story to make the case that these ideas apply to professionals as well as pupils.
Then I will take some examples from science, history and religious education to show that subject knowledge development can be a daily enterprise. I’ll be arguing that the quality of resources affects the quality of my teaching.
Finally, I’ll offer a few thoughts on the importance of this taking place in a culture of high challenge and low threat.