10,000 Hours to Mastery

Two powerful techniques

The Sutton Trust have created a Teacher Toolkit. It is a guide to the most effective and the most cost-effective teacher interventions that teachers can use to improve the quality of teaching and learning in their classrooms. Each possible intervention is graded, and the most startling thing to emerge from the Toolkit is that two interventions stand head and shoulders above the rest - giving the pupils great feedback on their work and teaching them metacognition - or how to learn.

As a teacher I know this to be true because I have spent my teaching career focusing on those two elements of teaching and I have seen first hand how they can transform a pupil’s educational experience.

Are teachers learners?

Well if we assume that they are and that good schools are learning organisations, then teachers need to be thought of as learners. On a personal level, teaching well was one of the hardest things that I have ever learned and it tested at the deepest levels of my personality. I only realise now just how emotionally triggered I was in all the places that I was weak - I was passive I was and how out of my depth I was.

What helped me to make leaps in my practice was when I actually started to write about what I did in an attempt to teach it to others. I found myself in a position where I was responsible for student teachers and I realised that having to teach someone, made me learn it better. I was forced to take a metacognitive approach about how I teach and this led me to break down my practice into a set of skills and techniques, which have so far filled two books and a website. 

When I now coach teachers, my aim is to give them the best possible feedback on their practice, so we may actually take some video of their teaching and help them to feedback on the specific skills that they are practicing.

When I am an effective coach, it is because I am teaching well. I understand that the new teachers are learning in the way that my pupils are learning and that they need exactly the same level of support that I provide in class.

Rob Salter