Teaching and values - Emily Seeber in TES

Posted on 23rd May 2019

In an article for TES, Bedales Head of Sciences Emily Seeber poses a problem for teachers: without a clear understanding of our beliefs and principles, she asks, how can we use them to evaluate our practice?

Reflection is useful, but can be challenging for teachers. Emily says: “We need to identify our beliefs about how students learn and how we should teach our subjects, but can be blind to our contradictions and inconsistencies – between what we believe as teachers and what we actually do in our classrooms.”

One answer, she proposes, is self-study, which involves teachers developing evidence of modifying their thinking as a result of the evaluation; interacting with colleagues, students, literature and their own prior work to examine their understanding; using qualitative and quantitative methods to provide a variety of perspectives to answer their questions; and formalising findings, making them presentable and sharing them with their professional communities.

A simple way to start, she says, is to make time in a department meeting to discuss the nature and purpose of education, and how best to teach the subject – and how students learn it. None of these questions will be easy to answer, however. She says: “Agreeing on a final statement as a department will take work. And it will likely modify the thinking of everyone in the group.”

She concludes: “The process will allow teachers and their departments to make decisions from the same philosophical perspective, evaluating current schemes of work against their principles, and ensuring that they are working together to create a coherent and cohesive learning environment for students.”

The full article can be read on the TES website here (subscription may be required).

Emily Seeber | TES | Bedales Chemistry