This post was written by our Associate AHT for Pedagogy and Practice, Julie Ryder.
TLaC, PPD and other acronyms……
Staff in our school have been offered a broad range of opportunities to develop as teachers and are able to select areas for their own Personal Practice Development (PPD). You can read all about them towards the end of this post.
One of my main roles is to develop and deliver a rolling CPD programme based on the Teach Like a Champion (TLaC) techniques. Twenty five colleagues signed up to follow the programme at the start of the year as part of their PPD. Those involved have very differing levels of classroom experience – from NQTs to HODs and AHTs. Despite this, the staff involved are united in their aim to develop as great teachers.
What is TLaC?
The TLaC programme has a proven track record of transforming students at risk of failure into achievers and believers. It is based on a taxonomy of effective teaching practices and is focused on micro-techniques rather than more generalised strategies, e.g. “questioning”.
Doug became interested in schools serving high need students that were getting the best results. He wanted to identify the teachers in those schools who were doing exceptional work. Directed by the data, Doug sat in the back of these exceptional teachers’ classrooms to observe and identify what they were doing that explained the exceptional results they were getting. As Doug spent more time in these great teachers’ classrooms he began to notice some commonalities: From these he identified a list of techniques which he called The Taxonomy of Effective Teaching Practices.
Doug now leads a team of Uncommon educators continuously studying and describing great teaching – breaking that greatness down into concrete, replicable actions, then designing the training to make it manageable and accessible. The belief is that all teachers can learn the simple, concrete actions that allow the achievement gap to be narrowed – lesson by lesson, classroom by classroom.
As a result of this research of teachers who consistently achieve high outcomes with students, Doug produced the Teach Like a Champion book, which included 49 instructional techniques that outline how superior instruction can overcome socio-economic barriers to student achievement.
Data suggests that in the UK the achievement gap between pupils of different socio-economic backgrounds is greater than almost all other developed countries. Yet we often encounter the view that certain students have a limit to their achievement. In an ideal classroom, however, no child’s educational success should be limited. Doug suggests that through the introduction of the TLaC techniques, high academic expectations, increased participation and depth of thinking, every student should achieve more.
I explained that the aim of our TLaC programme would be to use some of the techniques as an approach to staff development. It’s about us working together to build systems of classroom culture and instruction.
The Belmont TLaC programme
At the first meeting of our TLaC group in school I asked colleagues to share what they hoped to get out of the sessions. The results were as follows:
The key messages I see above are linked to teaching strategies that improve student engagement. From my own experience I would wholeheartedly agree that this is exactly how my classroom and lessons have improved. No matter the class, the year group or the lesson time, I expect, and am consistently striving for 100% engagement. Yes, my students are kept on their toes, yes I work really hard to maintain this, yes the pace has increased and yes I am still learning and trying to improve what I do in the classroom! Just like the rest of the TLaC group, I want to get better, I want to raise students’ expectations of their achievement and I want the support of regular PPD to discuss, try out, and perfect my teaching practice.
Introducing the techniques
I chose to begin with Cold Call and No Opt Out as these techniques are suggested to have the biggest impact in the classroom and improve the culture of expectations more quickly than any other combination.
Cold Call is about engaging students in your lessons. In this technique the intention is to make participation and engagement the expectation and to call on students regardless of whether they have raised their hands.
No Opt Out is about setting high academic expectations. In this technique a questioning sequence that begins with a student who is unwilling or unable to answer ends with that student giving the right answer as often as possible, even if they only repeat it.
Perfect practice makes perfect
We begin by practicing how we will explain to our students what Cold Call is and the expectations from them. The whole idea of meeting as a group is so that we can try ideas and receive feedback: “I like it when……..” and “Next time try…………”
As with everything in our TLaC programme we begin by modelling the practice. Myself and two colleagues recorded a demonstration practice Roll Out Speech and Cold Call. Modelling the practice and showing how receiving critique helps us to get better made it easier to ask others to do the same in our TLaC sessions that followed.
You can view our modelling the practice in the following clip:
Our growing popularity now puts our group at 29, which for practical reasons and time we have split into 2 groups for some of the practice sessions. Over the next four sessions we write, practice, critique and improve our Roll Out Speeches and No Opt Out questioning using resources from the Train the Trainers workshop I attended in London (which you can read about in Part 2).
Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College and Teach Like a Champion Field Guide: A Practical Resource to Make the 49 Techniques Your Own are also available from our T+L Library.