Blanchard, J. 2017. Inside Teaching: How To Make A Difference For Every Teacher And Learner. London: Routledge
Blanchard, J. 2017. Inside Teaching: How To Make A Difference For Every Teacher And Learner. London: Routledge (172 pages, £19.99)
This is a useful book for anyone who is interested in pedagogy and teacher education. The book is written in an accessible way and its structure is helpful as it covers key elements of pedagogical processes. Many of us who have taught will have memories of the challenges that teachers experience in their early days of pedagogy. I completed my teacher training in Woolwich College. I have memories of going off to teach maths in a prefabricated building and seeing students literally fleeing the classroom as I approached with my exercises on quadratic equations. I remember covering an A level sociology lesson for a teacher who went home ill with a sore throat to see one of the students sporting a luminous yellow file. On the side of the file, the word ‘SOCIALLERGY’ was on display in a font size that was alarming because it couldn’t be missed. If these early experiences of teaching resonate with you, the contents of this book will appeal.
The book is well organised and the content deals with topical aspects of pedagogy, for example the application of technology to teaching and learning. The book also makes reference to some of the recent interesting documentary programmes about teaching in schools in England. In programmes such as ‘Educating Yorkshire’ a reality of pedagogy can appear. Teaching does not appear to be as much about what Geoff Petty refers to as being a ‘sage on a stage’, but, instead the role is more akin to being a ‘guide on the side’. The book deals with the softer skills that are required by teachers. An important reference is made to the significance of Rogerian approaches to pedagogy within the book.
The content also makes the point that it is particularly important to become aware of the needs of our learners. In my early days as a teacher I was interested in arranging classrooms to meet the pedagogical needs of the students. In doing so, I was applying a behaviourist approach to my pedagogy. I was also interested in Rogerian ideas of teaching and learning so that the ‘would/should dilemmas’ of the students could be resolved as effectively as possible. The book outlines that all of these varying approaches to pedagogy need to be considered ahead of, during and after pedagogical processes. The book is divided into three key parts. In ‘part I’, the content reflects on the nature of the students (or pupils). Key factors influencing how students engage with pedagogical processes are considered (‘background’; ‘motivation’; and ‘achievement’). ‘Part II’ amplifies the key factors that influence ‘planning, teaching and assessment’. It is acknowledged that a teacher needs to develop a ‘repertoire’ for teaching. Key pedagogical skills, (for example ‘developing effective feedback for pupils’) are considered within the book’s remit. ‘Part 3’ of the book explores a key concept within effective pedagogy, in other words, the importance of developing a sense of satisfaction within teaching and learning. The book develops the important point that we need to continue to learn about pedagogy. Part of the excitement of teaching concerns the ways in which we are continually learning and reflecting on our pedagogical practices. This links to Vermunt’s (2016) reflection on the importance of the Japanese lesson plans. Vermunt (2016) outlines that these lesson plans enable teachers and learners to come together to plan and observe teaching sessions in partnership. In doing so, the possibility of developing reflective practice is enabled. The book provides a similar helpful reflection on pedagogical processes.
At the 2016 IPDA (International Professional Development Association) conference, Professor Graham, Donaldson provided a humorous reflection on his first memories of teaching in a school in Glasgow. After being shown a teaching classroom and a cupboard of resources in September, Donaldson recalls that he was more or less ‘left to it’ until Easter. These past experiences of an absence of teacher development and a ‘sink or swim’ approach to pedagogy are negated in this book. We don’t have to ‘overcome’ our learners. We need to work with them in collaboration. The book develops this helpful point.
Vermunt, J.D., 2016. Keynote address. Paper presented at the IPDA conference, 25-26 November, Stirling, UK.
Dr Ewan Ingleby, September 2017