Jo Earp: Hello, you're listening to a special Teacher podcast. I'm Jo Earp.
Danielle Meloney: And I'm Dani Meloney
JE: Now it's Teacher's second birthday this week, can you believe it?
DM: No! We've hit our terrible twos.
JE: Terrible. Now, like last year, Dani and I thought we would look back at some of our favourite podcasts from the archives. I've spoken to people from around the world. One of my personal favourites had to be when Andreas Schleicher, who's Director of the OECD's Directorate for Education and Skills joined me on the line from Paris for an episode of The Research Files.
DM: And for any listeners who may be new to Teacher, The Research Files was our very first podcast series. Researchers and academics give us a snapshot of their findings, and the implications that their research has had. Schleicher himself spoke to us about the OECD report, Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connections.
JE: So, here's one of my favourite grabs from the podcast.
Andreas Schleicher: And today we talk about digital literacy - we wouldn't have talked about 'pencil literacy' a century ago. We talked about: What are the kind of skills, the kind of content that students need to master? What are the thinking skills? Whether that's problem solving, critical thinking, creative working. It's those kinds of dimensions that we should put at the centre and see how technology can foster them.
DM: Then there was the time when you spoke to Dr Stephen Keast and Dr Bec Cooper about adopting the team teaching approach and the pitfalls to watch out for.
JE: Yes, that was a Teaching Methods podcast and actually it was interesting because they were a real duo. So let's listen to a little bit of what they had to say.
Bec Cooper: … It's important to go in from the outset with an understanding of what each other is expecting from the relationship. Particularly in terms of the planning, the implementation of that plan, so the actual teaching, the assessment. It's as simple as: How are you going to divide this class up in order to assess them? And then thinking about the implications of that down the line for reporting, parent-teacher interviews and long-term learning for the students who may need the consistency of that feedback from one teacher.
Stephen Keast: And, who does the student come to for support and help? Whether it's emotional, or whether it's academic. If it's a team teaching approach do you say 'Well, I'm only going to talk to the boys and you're only going to talk to the girls'? Or do we say 'It's open to both, depending on who they feel comfortable with', and then ‘I might get more than half, and what does that mean about our teaching loads and comparisons?' I think it's best to sit down at the start and have some discussion around that.
And, one of the most important things, I think, is having somebody that you have similar values to that you can work with.
DM: Now let's look further afield to China. John Burns told us how the staff at Shekou International School were using Twitter and a hashtag to share details of their own practice with peers and, of course, members of their school community.
JE: I seem to remember actually in that interview the hashtag even caught the attention of Banksy!
John Burns: Fundamentally, we wanted to de-privatise great teaching and learning. If something great is happening in a Year 2 classroom, it shouldn't be a secret to the classroom next door, it shouldn't be a secret to the middle school, and certainly shouldn't be a secret to the principals and others. So we wanted to find a way that we could get teachers actively discussing and sharing the practice in their rooms, and so we saw a Twitter hashtag as being a really good medium for that. What we have as a result is this organic community of people constantly sharing practice via the hashtag #SISrocks.
... We see discussions around teaching and learning, we see discussions around passion projects and genius hour-type things. We've seen a change to our recruiting landscape, where teachers who are potentially vetting the school or want to come here are talking to staff and engaging with staff before they arrive. And there are some students involved as well, and we'd like to see more of that.
JE: Okay Dani, over to an interview that you did for our School Improvement series. Dr Pete Goss, from the Grattan Institute here in Australia, he spoke to you about targeted teaching and a recent research report that highlighted that targeted teaching is the key to increasing student progress and school improvement.
Peter Goss: What we've also known about for a long time is that students learn best when they're working with material that's not so easy, that they already know it, and they get bored and disengage. Or, when it's so hard that they can't actually engage with the material and succeed in it. It's got to be at the right level for individual students.
The challenge of course, is how to put this together in practice. ... So, what's the answer to this challenge? ... First of all, to assess where the students are at using rigorous tests that are aligned with existing standards and benchmarks. Second, to target the teaching. And that's hard, and school's approached it in a different way. If you know where the students are starting from, that's a critical starting point. Third, to track the progress of every individual student over time. ... The last bit, which closes the loop, is to adapt your teaching practices on the basis of keeping the things that have worked better and changing or stopping the things that have not worked so well.
DM: Then 2016 we actually introduced a brand new podcast series around school-based action research. In this one we chat to teachers who have conducted their own action research in schools and find out about the process that they undertook and the impact that it has made.
JE: Yep, it's Dani again this first episode. Mark Sivills from Don College in Tasmania shares his school's journey. Now in 2013 – just as a bit of background – Mark and his colleagues sought to discover whether introducing peer assessment into the school's Year 11 and 12 Foundation maths course could result in improved outcomes and pass rates.
DM: And Mark himself had some words of wisdom for his fellow teachers who may be thinking about undertaking a research project in their own school.
Mark Sivills: I think it sometimes can be quite hard to isolate the single thing you want to investigate or check. We're often trying lots of new things at the same time. The biggest piece of advice is probably, try to create a simple question that you want to answer. I think ours was probably still a bit too complex but it was basically, ‘Can students in Foundation maths who have only ever achieved 'Ds' before engage in peer and self assessment? And, does it lead to improved outcomes?' And we were able to answer those questions, 'yes' and 'yes'.
‘The other thing really is to make sure that you collect baseline data so that you have something to compare it to, otherwise it's really hard to interpret.
DM: There's some good advice there.
JE: Indeed, and there's lots more to come! We will be coming back to that particular action research series later in the year.
DM: Remember, all Teacher podcasts can be found on www.teachermagazine.com.au.
JE: So if you have missed out on an episode of The Research Files, our Global Education series or School Improvement, it's really easy to get up to date!
DM: And you can also download all of our podcasts for free, just visit acer.ac/teacheritunes or head to www.soundcloud.com/teacher-acer.
JE: Finally, thanks to everyone who has listened this year. For now, it's goodbye from the Teacher editorial team!
Did you have a favourite Teacher podcast from the past year that we didn’t mention? Tell us your favourites by tweeting @teacheracer, using the hashtag #TeacherMag.