Why isn’t Engelmann in our library?

docendo discimus

Following the little kerfuffle over the new BPP University PGCE, there has been a bit of discussion about whether or not Theory of instruction: Principles and applications by Engelmann and Carnine, should be available in university libraries for PGCE or other Education students.

It isn’t in my university’s library. I’m open to persuasion that it should be but here is what I think at the moment. I would be interested in any corrections or constructive comments.

Firstly I think it is important to be clear that Direct Instruction (DI, with capitals) refers to specific programmes of scripted lesson sequences. The original DISTAR programmes were designed for EYFS and KS1. More recently programmes for older primary children and an intervention for struggling readers have been developed. The approach is very specific, to the point where there is a rubric for deciding if a programme is genuinely Direct Instruction or not. It…

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Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself by @JessicaDPollock

Starter for Five

Name: Jessica Pollock
Twitter name: @JessicaDPollock
Sector: Primary
Subject taught (if applicable):
Position: Class Teacher
What is your advice about? Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

  1. Your class will get messy.
  2. You will fall behind on marking at times.
  3. You will forget to organise resources for a lesson and have to wing it.
  4. You will realise you’ve only done spelling once this week and wouldn’t like to admit to the last time you taught French.
  5. You’re in a job with a never ending to-do list so keep a ‘done list’ to keep perspective. This job is like a garden, never perfect or ‘finished’ but manageable, and worth it.

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Workload: solutions part II – why do systems in schools fail?

Bunsen Blue

Systems in schools often fail for two reasons. Firstly, the workload-to-impact ratio is unfavourable. Secondly, the culture in the school hasn’t united staff to pick fruits from trees growing in the same philosophical soil. Both of these contribute to an increased workload that can be diminished; the second and third of my three Cs of eliminating workload are cut and culture respectively. (The first c is centralising curriculum resources and detentions.)

Cut anything that has a low impact:high workload ratio

All leaders must ask themselves two questions before they roll out a new initiative/system, or when evaluating a current one:

  1. How much impact will this have on pupil progress?
  2. How much will this affect my staff in terms of workload?

On balance, the evaluation should be favoured if the workload-to-impact ratio is desirable.

As a scientist, I feel compelled to zoom in on the word ratio here. Some tasks have both…

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My Favourite Class

The Grumpy Teacher

(I have, in fourteen years in the classroom, taught exactly one hundred different classes, though if a class which begins in the Fourth Form (or the Lower Sixth) and ends in the Fifth Form (or the Upper Sixth) counts as just one class then the number is seventy-seven.

Classes do take on their own character. Many independent school teachers will tell you how irritating it is when classicists attain high academic office, because they’re used to tiny Latin & Greek classes and don’t quite understand how much more work a proper class is. But I wouldn’t swap with them. The smallest class I taught was an Upper Sixth class containing four boys. I got to know them well: an intellectual, a mouthy debater, a trier, and a traditional public-school jock. It was easy. But if one of them was missing the dynamic wasn’t there. I can’t put my finger on…

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The science of school uniform

Filling the pail

Back in the mid 1990s, the U.K. was in the grip of a crisis caused by the emergence of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). This was a fatal brain condition affecting cattle that became colloquially known as ‘mad cow disease’. People were concerned because it seemed as if cows had acquired the illness by eating sources of protein containing the remains of sheep that suffered from a similar disease, scrapie. If cows eating the remains of sheep could catch it then then could humans eating beef also be at risk?

I remember the reassurances at the time. We were repeatedly told that there was no evidence of a risk to humans. That was true. At that time there reallywas no evidence. That evidence came later with the outbreak of a related condition in people.

BSE is the best example that comes to mind to demonstrate that absence of evidence…

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Modern Education vs Old Education

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Everyone is passive

The Quirky Teacher

I was deeply concerned about this article centred around an epidemic of self-harm among girls at a boarding school; it made me wonder why children of wealthy parents who have nothing to worry about would be so mentally ill as to want to seriously injure or even kill themselves. This is not to say that their plight is nothing when it clearly is a big something – but, something’s not right here. Why is it that a family friend who had seen her own relatives set alight, burned alive and then had walked thousands of miles to try and get to Britain the most happy, positive and hard-working person I have ever known in so much better mental health than all these boarding school girls, for example?

Natasha is right that teachers cannot simply be chucked all the mental health hot potatoes simply because the taxpayer doesn’t deem CAMHS to…

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