Our courses have a single purpose – to help teachers to keep getting better. We’re committed to achieving this through evidence-informed practice, so our faculty team are always exploring the best education research and thinking.

This summer, we’d like to share a few titles that have influenced our programmes. Check them out for a bit of poolside reading to refresh your teaching over the holidays.

We’ve tried to cover a few bases with this selection, which includes tips on curriculum design, professional development and more – with a bit of cognitive science thrown in along the way! We hope that there’s something here for everyone – from trainee teachers and NQTs, to teacher educator and school leaders.

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool.

Anders Ericsson, Professor of Psychology at Florida State University, is renowned for his research into the nature of expertise and performance within professions such as medicine, music and sports.

At the Institute for Teaching we try to learn from ideas across the education sector and from outside it. We believe that teaching is a performance profession too, and Peak –  a grand tour of Ericsson and Pool’s decade-spanning research – is an influence for our Masters in Expert Teaching.

Peak disputes the notion that experts are ‘born and not made’, and argues for the power of deliberate practice in acquiring and developing skills in performance professions – with practical advice on goal setting, motivation, and receiving feedback

The Unified Learning Model – How Motivational, Cognitive, and Neurobiological Sciences Inform Best Teaching Practices. Duane Shell, David Brooks, Guy Trainin, Kathleen Wilson, Douglas Kauffman and Lynne Herr.

The Unified Learning Model, produced by academics mostly from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, bravely attempts to pull together cognitive and motivational sciences into a coherent framework we can use to design for and facilitate learning.

The Power of Moments. Chip and Dan Heath.

The Power of Moments, from brothers Chip and Dan Heath of Stanford and Dukes Universities in the US, offers a clear summary of the evidence on how we can make experiences feel powerful, memorable and worthwhile.

This is an important goal when teaching our pupils, and we believe that teacher deserve just as much effort in their own development. We’re aiming to bring this attitude to teacher development though our Fellowship in Teacher Education.

Applying Cognitive Science in Education. Frederick Reif.

Another influence on our Fellows programme – Applying Cognitive Science in Education has been very helpful in thinking about how we can produce a logical and meaningful curriculum to embed the fundamentals of cognitive science into the practice of teachers. Reif presents accessible and practical methods for teaching the essential thought processes required to prevent misconceptions, fragmented knowledge, and inadequate problem-solving skills – with a particular focus on maths and science.

Creating the Schools our children need: Why What We’re Doing Now Won’t Help Much (And What We Can Do Instead). Dylan Wiliam.

There’s no simple and universal blueprint for creating great schools but this book investigates what research tells us about how we can improve our chance of success.

Wiliam looks at school improvement through implementable actions in three areas – developing a knowledge-focused curriculum, creating a culture of universal teacher development, and using frameworks to assess the success of new approaches.

Secondary Curriculum and Assessment Design. Summer Turner.

Secondary Curriculum and Assessment Design is a helpful ‘textbook’ for teachers with increasing freedom over their curriculum. Turner explores curriculum and assessment design at a subject and whole school level, with guides on sharing new methods with colleagues. At the Institute for Teaching, we’re drawing on this book in the second year of our whole school Transforming Teaching programme.

Something from us...

Our team have also been busy with their own research and publications, and we’ve shared two papers recently which explore the science of learning – both what we know about it, and how we can sequence, teach and assess it when teaching teachers.

Learning: What is it, and how might we catalyse it? Peps Mccrea.

Drawing on the work of Deans for Impact, and particularly their paper The Science of Learning, our Senior Associate Dean Peps Mccrea produced the paper Learning: What is it, and how might we catalyse it?. Peps provides a coherent, high-level overview of what learning is, and how we might catalyse it – structured around nine insights into learning, and their implications for our classrooms.

“Without an understanding of the how learning works, we remain limited to imitating what others have done before us. This paper has been produced to share our thinking, guide our programmes, and stimulate discussion around the nature of learning and teaching.”

Peps Mccrea, Senior Associate Dean, Institute for Teaching.

The Learning Curriculum. Harry Fletcher-Wood, Ben Bignall, Lucy Blewett, Jen Calvert, Josh Goodrich and Emma McCrea

Building on our knowledge of the science of learning, Harry Fletcher-Wood (course lead on our Fellowship in Teacher Education), and the members of our pilot cohort of Fellows) aim to develop a structure and sequence for sharing this knowledge with teachers.

In The Learning Curriculum, Harry and the team aim to answer three key questions:

  1. How should we sequence learning about the principles of the science of learning?
  2. How could we evidence and illustrate these principles accessibly yet defensibly?
  3. How could we check what teachers had understood?

Harry and the team structure the paper around the steps a teacher might go through when planning a lesson – posing questions like: “How can I help students to attend to learning?” and “How can I ensure that students maintain this learning?”. The Learning Curriculumpresents a summary of the research into each area in question, and highlights ‘principles’, analogies and applications for teaching. Each section ends with suggested ‘hinge questions’ which may be used to test a teachers understanding of the principle outlined and its implications.

Something a bit lighter…

If you’re looking for something a little lighter, why not have a look at our Thinking page. All of our work, including our papers, blogs, and reviews are categorised according to length so there’s something there for you whether you’ve plenty of time to spare, so even just 3 minutes!

We’re going to be re-sharing some of our favourite blogs of the year this summer, but in the meantime, you might like to start with this one from Harry – Teacher Learning – It’s Just Learning.

Coming up…

We hope that this list will give you something to get stuck into this summer, if you enjoy what you’ve read then keep an eye out for more from us soon. We’re going to kick off the new term with a new blog series and paper from Jacynth Bennett – Associate Dean and lead on our teacher wellbeing programme (funded by Big Change).

To catch all of our latest content, follow us on Twitter @ifteaching!