Teaching & Learning
At Phoenix we place our disciplinary curriculum at the heart of school life. We know that the implementation of a disciplinary curriculum requires a new definition of teacher effectiveness and new metrics to discuss and improve teacher practice. We can only have a curriculum-led model of school improvement if we have a heavily codified approach to teacher practice. This is central to our model, as it ensures that we have a shared view and language of teacher practice, and that all systems flow from this. The way we train, observe, support and promote teachers is all based on these core beliefs.
We also know that in a disciplinary model we require teachers that are subject experts and can explain difficult content and ideas to their students. We know that before a student achieves a high level of expertise – namely studying at undergraduate level – the best way for them to understand new and difficult ideas and concepts is to have them explained to them.
At Phoenix Academy we have the following definition of expert practice and accept that all staff are on a continuum from novice to expert. It is the organisation’s responsibility to ensure all our teachers move along this continuum every year. Our mantra is a simple one: “Every teacher better every year.” For us, better simply means:
- Being a subject expert – having a deep knowledge of the subject’s rules and structures, and a scholarly approach to deepening and broadening subject knowledge. Knowing how an expert within your subject domain explains their position and presents their findings, and being determined to enable all students to do the same.
- Embracing the emerging science of learning – understanding terms such as interleaving, spacing, dual-coding, retrieval practice, modelling, direct instruction, teacher exposition and reflecting on how this knowledge can shape and improve your effectiveness.
- Not making excuses – firstly, not allowing a child’s background or family circumstances shape your view of their future. Secondly, taking responsibility for your practice.
- Practice makes perfect – knowing that practice makes perfect, and just like an Olympic oarsman might spend 3 weeks focussing on the sharpness of the front end of their stroke, you embrace multiple opportunities to practice the crispness of your lesson routines, or the precision of your language.