The Masters in Expert Teaching has exceeded all of my expectations.
After teaching for a few years, I knew I wanted to develop my skills and drive improvements in pupil learning – undertaking a Masters seemed like the perfect opportunity to do this. I spent many evenings researching different providers, but eventually concluded that Ambition Institute’s programme was right for me.
The Masters in Expert Teaching seemed well-suited to my needs; I liked the idea of being taught through a combination of face-to-face training and online distance learning. This meant I could spend the time I would have spent travelling on doing something that actually contributed to my studies.
In addition, the programme allows you to focus on your teaching without adding to your workload. This contrasts with my experience of university education, in which you go to a lecture, go away and research questions about it, and then come to your next lecture with even more questions.
The Masters in Expert Teaching has been different. During the conference, which was spread over three intense days, we examined in detail what we were going to learn and how we were going to learn it; this enabled us to think about the questions we were going to be asked before they were presented to us.
The expectation of being signposted to the reading also contributed to this difference. Not having to spend time finding the right places to look for information has been incredibly helpful. Our reading list is curated for us by experts, and it is clear each topic has been carefully considered and well-researched. They are all easy to understand and a provide an excellent base to build from.
The impact of this reading on my teaching is evident from the range of techniques I now use in the classroom. In one lesson I delivered recently, I was talking about ‘interleaving’ – a concept that I had never heard of before starting the programme.
The results from the first assessment I gave to my Year 10 class after we’d started interleaving were incredible. It was unusual for them to get as many questions right, and it definitely wasn’t usual for them to get a much higher score than the set above them.
This has changed the way I think about my teaching. Before the programme, I was in the habit of including self-discovery learning in my lessons because the pupils found it “fun”. Now, I think differently; yes it might be fun, but if it’s not contributing to their learning then it defeats the purpose of me being there.
"The programme allows you to focus on your teaching without contributing to your workload"
The programme has also taught me to rethink my expectations about the pupils’ retention of information. The first lesson I learnt from the conference was about how humans are programmed to forget information. This has changed my approach to how I plan consecutive lessons on a topic.
When preparing for lessons previously, I would think ‘where are our students going to trip up?’ But alongside that question, I am now asking myself ‘what are students going to have forgotten?’ and ‘what will I have to recap?’ In every lesson I teach, I incorporate something that goes back to lessons before it. This has been a real, substantial change in my teaching.
In fact, the first thing I did when I got back from the conference was tell my students what I had learned about forgetting. I remember telling my Year 9 class ‘you’re going to forget 50% of this in an hour’. When we got to the end of the hour I said ‘does anyone remember what percentage of this you’re going to forget?' – they couldn’t remember. For them to realise this in practice helped them to buy into the rest of the lessons that came after.
This has had a noticeable impact in their assessments. In a recent test, the pupils weren’t making the same kinds of mistakes they usually did and their retention of knowledge was a lot better. Though the pupils might have made calculation errors, they didn’t forget the method – an indication that their change in practice, and potentially their change in motivation, enabled them to remember more.
The Masters in Expert Teaching has helped me to find solutions to potential barriers. Alongside the conference and readings, I have hugely benefited from working alongside like-minded peers – everyone on the programme has been involved and engaged; every time I have asked someone for advice, they have been very willing to give it.
Having now completed my first module, I am convinced that the Masters in Expert Teaching is the best programme available to those who want to become better teachers while broadening their understanding of education through research and evidence.
Indeed, the impact has been so great that I am now encouraging many of my colleagues to apply for the programme next year. It has been an incredible learning curve so far – both for me and for my pupils – and I can’t wait to see what it brings next.
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