(3) 12 Propositions about teachers with a high level of expertise with young children

Here is the third of four extracts from How do Expert Primary Classteachers really Work?A Critical Guide for Teachers, Headteachers and Teacher Educators. Enjoy and let us know what you think

Teachers all work differently, but they should take calculated risks. So, let me risk suggesting, tentatively, 12 propositions about classteachers with a high level of expertise with young children. These are that they:

  1. are more concerned with a broad range of pedagogical content knowledge and ways of working and thinking within disciplines than just with subject knowledge;
  2. seek to match activities and experiences to children’s current level of understanding, but allow scope for individuals and groups to adapt these;
  3. regard assessment, especially in-the-moment, and disciplined improvisation, rather than planning with predetermined outcomes, as integral to teaching;
  4. adopt a range of pedagogies, depending on what is to be learned, but with a strong element of apprenticeship, enabling children to be active and take increasing control of their learning;
  5. are attuned to the emotional and cognitive needs, both of individuals and of the whole class, to inform both planning and methods of feedback;
  6. create and sustain, over time, an inclusive learning environment sensitive to, and respectful of, children’s culture and background, but helping to expand their cultural horizons;
  7. provide a broad and challenging range of activities, experiences and opportunities to sustain children’s interest and to broaden, strengthen and deepen the skills, attributes and dispositions associated with lifelong learning;
  8. encourage risk-taking and creativity, both independently and in groups, but protect children, especially the least resilient, from the emotional cost of failure;
  9. seek to understand and influence, rather than control, children’s behaviour, recognising the many factors which affect this and the importance of caring relationships;  10. recognise that education involves multiple, and often conflicting, aims and
  10. maintain an emphasis on children’s long-term needs, helping to encourage intrinsic motivation;
  11. believe that every child can achieve more than she or he thinks that they can, and encourage and support them in having and meeting broad as well as high aspirations;
  12. have the confidence to make their own professional, and informed, judgements, both long term and in-the-moment, in response to the group’s needs, rather than simply to comply.

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