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5.1 Best Practice in Teaching

Introduction

'Best practice' in teaching is generally considered to be existing practices which have already achieved a high level of widely agreed effectiveness.  Within that there is a great deal of variation, and strategies which suit one teacher may sit uncomfortably with another.  Through experience, you will develop your own style of teaching and your own individual philosophy and pedagogy, however there are some underlying activities that all effective practitioners participate in.  Reflective practice - the ability to examine your teaching and explore what went well, which didn't go so well, what could be modified and to what end, is a critical part of the profession.  Without reflective practice, teaching becomes stale, and poor practice becomes entrenched.  Problems arise without the skills to overcome them and burnout becomes a risk.  By continually reflecting on your teaching, recognising issues as soon as they appear and adapting your teaching methods to overcome them, not only will you be a more effective teacher, you will also be a happier one. Continuous professional development is another essential for a good teacher.  Educational demands change and what is considered de rigeur now as you experience initial teacher training will change throughout your career. Curricula change, syllabuses change, educational fashions change; the ambitions, demands and students change, and a good teacher adapts to meet these changes. 

While all teachers have their own personal style and pedagogic philosophy, the profession has recognised shared standards partly communicated through formal documentation and partly through informal participation in communities of practice.  There is a set of skills, knowledge, values and attributes that teachers are expected to develop and reflect in their professional practice to become an effective practitioner.  To ensure that all teachers are of the standard expected by the profession, quality assurance (QA) processes are in place.  The primary QA processes in UK schools are OFSTED inspections and validation procedures.  The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (OFSTED) is the body responsible for the inspection and regulation of services for children and young people.  As such, they inspect schools on a five-year rolling programme to ensure that the education being provided is of the standard expected, producing a report at the end which highlights areas of good practice and areas which needs improvement.  Should a school be found not to be meeting the expected standards there are a range of measures that OFSTED can take to address this.  Validation procedures are another form of quality assurance mechanism - this time put in place by examination boards and awarding bodies, designed to ensure that the internal assessment provided by examination centres are in line with national standards and that teachers in their roles as assessors and internal modifiers are assessing appropriately.

The main topics covered in this module will be:

Reflective Practice: Understanding what reflective practice means, and how reflection can be incorporated into teaching on an ongoing informal basis as well as part of formal review.  Tools and techniques designed to encourage reflective practice will be explored, as will reflective models that you can incorporate and adapt into your teaching.

Continuous Professional Development: What continuous professional development means, why it is important and how development opportunities can be accessed.  How educational expectations change over time and how professionals can meet these changes.

Professional Standards: Understanding professional standards in education - what they are and what skills, knowledge, values and attributes are expected of a teacher and how these can be developed and maintained throughout a teaching career.

Quality Assurance Processes: An awareness of the main quality assurance processes for schools in the UK, in particular OFSTED inspections and examination validation procedures and the role of the classroom teacher in these processes.

Understanding the role of reflection in teaching and how to become a reflective practitioner, comparing your teaching practice with your own values, skills and attributes as well as the expected standards of the profession, will assist you comply with best practice in teaching and learning. Making use of continuous professional development opportunities will not only improve your teaching, but also help you cope with the demands of the profession and avoid stress and burnout.  Identifying your role within national quality assurance processes and how to participate effectively will enable you to align yourself fully with national and local expectations of best practice in teaching.


Before you begin this module, we should ensure that it's clear what we would like you to take from it.

Goal for this module

The aim of this module is to provide students with an understanding of best practice in education, including the importance of reflective practice and continuous professional development, equipping them with the skills and tools required to undertake this, as well as an understanding of professional standards and quality assurance processes, and the role of the classroom practitioner in upholding these.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  1. Recognise the importance of reflective practice and continuing professional development within the educational profession.
  2. Be aware of and able to utilise tools and techniques - both formal and informal - to allow you to reflect on your professional practice. 
  3. Evaluate your own teaching practice, compare this with expected professional standards and apply this learning to your development.
  4. Recognise the importance of continual professional development; be aware of where to find opportunities and support to enable this and apply this learning into your everyday pedagogic practice to enable you to continue to develop throughout your career.
  5. Identify the main quality assurance processes in place in UK schools, and your role in participating in these processes and procedures.
  6. Recognise that individual teachers develop their own teaching style and preferred pedagogic practices and philosophies within the standards expected of the profession and identify how your particular skills and attributes can be best applied to encourage effective learning.