HOD Zone

We believe in high quality, collaborative professional development focussed on academic rigour and subject specificity. In school, often the best place to carry this out is the department meeting. This time, however, is often submerged and overtaken with bureaucratic issues that don’t always capitalise on the opportunity presented by having subject specialists in a room together.

This page aims to support Heads of Science in enthusing and re-intellectualising their team through short whole-department activities revolving around evidence-informed and subject-specific discussions. Every few weeks Shaun Allison, author of Making Every Science Lesson Count, will be writing a short idea for heads of deparment to try in departmental meetings. We hope that you find the ideas helpful, and if you have tried anything yourself that you think others might enjoy, please email us at cogscisci@gmail.com.

Examples of things to come:

Using diagrams: display the diagrams below, taken from page 25 of the EEF science guidance report.

Ask colleagues which one they think is better and to justify their choices. Then discuss the “right” answer, which is that a) is better as it reduces split attention. Close your discussion by finding diagrams from your schemes of work which might need to be reviewed.

Working on explanation: think about something you and other members of your team are due to be teaching soon. Spend the first few minutes of the meeting at the front of the room explaining your given topic, in exactly the same way that you would with your students. Afterwards, ask colleagues what they thought of your explanation and how they think you could improve it. Alternatively, you could video yourself explaining it to a class and then play the tape, pausing it at various points and discussing why you made certain decisions.

Sequencing: choose a topic that your team are due to be teaching soon, and break it up into its component parts. Print the different parts out on slips of paper, and ask colleagues to try and put them into a logical sequence for teaching. Remember, there is no “right” answer when it comes to sequencing, the important part is thinking hard about the material.

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