In November 2017, I met Mark Harris at a Teach Meet. Since then, I’ve read his book ‘Becoming an Outstanding Geography Teacher’. It’s been an interesting read; much of which I agree with so it’s nice to hear others saying the same thing.
The book starts by exploring the concept of outstanding teaching before discussing planning for progress and lesson design.
As I read the first 3 chapters I found myself highlighting multiple parts to share with my department, to reflect upon or to note for future reference. A lot of the theory I agreed with. In particular I liked the fact that this book recognises that outstanding teachers aren’t outstanding all the time or at everything.
“It’s important to realise that not every lesson you teach will be outstanding, and there is nothing wrong with this.” Mark Harris
Chapter 2 I found of most interest; this chapter explored designing and developing a sequence of lessons. The key focus here is that we should begin with the end in mind to enable us to have a clear vision of the skills and knowledge our students must acquire to be successful. This chapter encourages the reader to reflect on the geographical skills, knowledge and understanding that set the foundations for our subject, courses and curriculum and to consider how assessment can take place.
Figure 2.2 above from page 9 of ‘Becoming an Outstanding Geography Teacher’ summarised effectively the process in which I went through in planning a Humanities curriculum a few years ago. If you are currently renewing or planning a geography curriculum this chapter is really useful.
Chapter 3 then explores lesson planning through a series of stages and highlights the importance of planning for learning rather than how you plan to teach. A key point I never really learnt until my third year of teaching as I designed a new curriculum from scratch. It’s important to learn this early on to maximise the impact of your teaching. New teachers will find this chapter invaluable; improving teachers will find it useful yet the more effective practitioners may find it of little use.
From chapter 4 to chapter 13, I felt this book came into its own with its wide variety of ideas and strategies to develop one’s practice. These chapters look at a variety of good practice associated with questioning, differentiation, geographical enquiry, literacy and numeracy. Later followed by strategies for teaching A level, marking for progress and homework.
Some of my favourites included…
the chapter on ‘Marking for Progress’ (No surprise!) and the idea of the progress wheel which pretty much a simplified version of my before and after topic reflection sheets.
the introduction to flipped learning and the ‘Flipped Learning sheet’ which could easily be created and adapted to one’s desired uses.
the chapter on ‘How to create curiosity and teach geography through enquiry’ which takes the reader through the process of creating an enquiry.
Whilst I felt a lot of it I already applied to my practice. Overall there’s plenty to influence the practice of the newbie teacher or the improving teacher; there’s a lot to be learnt from the book and plenty to inspire.
It’s a book I’ll encourage my department to read.
To grab your own copy click here.
If you’ve read it, share your thoughts.