[MUSIC] Welcome to week 3. So far, in this course, we've been focusing on learning and this week we turn our attention to teaching. And the question for this week is what makes a good teacher? As you will have notice, the pattern of learning on this course is that we've been inviting key speakers to come along to talk to us about their research in those particular areas. And this week we have professor Alex Moore, who is one of my colleagues at the institute of education, who's done so much work in this area. He's actually written a book called The Good Teacher. And so Alex is going to share with us some of his thoughts around this topic this week, and we'll start off with the obvious question, Alex, is. What is a good teacher? >> That's a very difficult question actually and one which I kind of try and resist answering. In fact, every time I talk about the book, I have to begin by saying, I'm not going to tell you how to be a good teacher. And, and I've got several reasons for resisting this notion of identifying a good teacher. I mean for one thing, I think it oversimplifies what's a very, a very complex set of issues. It seems to suggest that there is some kind of archetypal good teacher we can all become. Deborah Bretzman once said, that's a long time ago, now, that learning to teach, like teaching itself, is an ongoing, endless process of becoming and she contrast becoming to being. And, and I take this kind of idea very seriously and I think, perhaps what we need to do, rather than trying to identify the good teacher, which is about, you know, who I am or what I am. That we focus more on, you know, what I might become. So really we're focusing more on, each person looking at their teaching. Analyzing their teaching. Am I happy with it? How do I make it better? So we're constantly trying to, to improve what we're doing, rather than aiming to, to be something that well actually we, we, we may never be and we may per, be permanently disappointed that we're not, we're not being. so, I'm inclined to focus much more I think on, on good teaching, rather than a good teacher. I mean, of course you can identify some fairly obvious things that, that, you know, if you're pushed, to say what a good teacher is. Of course a teacher needs to be able to, to plan lessons appropriately and carefully and thoroughly. A good teacher needs to be able to communicate well with their students, to be sympathetic to students' needs, to recognize, you know, the different interests and ways of learning that students might have in a big classroom.Um, to have, to have a good knowledge of their subject area, and so forth. And these things are often listed. as, as, as, attributes that a good teacher must have. I think they're fairly obvious actually, and there may be some other perhaps less obvious, qualities or, or not less obvious, but less visible in public policy, qualities that a teacher might have. For example I think you know if we, if we believe that a teacher is should be focused on becoming rather than being the teacher needs to be able, needs to be adaptable, flexible, and I think something else is quite, often quite missing from the sort of public versions of what a good teacher is. Is I've always believe that a, a teacher needs to, to recognize that they're not working alone. It's very easy I think for teachers to become isolated within their classrooms and also with their problems. and, and I think that's increasingly the case now unfortunately. You know I remember years ago if I had a problem I would feel quite happy to go to my head of department or even a head teacher or deputy head and say look I'm having a problem. I'm worried, I'm unhappy about something. Whether I would do that now, I'm not sure. I think unfortunately, we live in a situation now in schools in which people if anything, are becoming more isolated from one another. More concerned about their own, you know, career opportunities and potential impact of sharing a problem with colleagues. And so the idea of, of, of collaboration, I think, you know, of working as a team, to me that's a very important characteristic of being a good teacher, if I have to identify a good teacher, rather than some of the more simplistic kind of views that we sometimes get in, in sort of public policy documentation. And really, it's, I think, partly this is about also, teacher's recognizing what, Ivan Goodson called the messy complexity of the classroom. You know, identifying a good teacher, to me, is a bit like, I think it, it's characteristic of a general trend in education of, of trying to kind of resist difference. To try and find uniformity and conformity and to try and come up with a national curriculum that everybody does. It's very prescriptive to come up with standard attainment tests for young people, You know, and then you have sort of a criteria, and so on. And to me, all of these movements, along with this idea of identifying a good teacher, they really, you know, take attention away from the, the sort of, what I've called the idiosyncratic and contingent aspects of, of teaching in classroom experience. You know, I mean a good tea, what is a good teacher? A good teaching [LAUGH] I mean a good, you may, things that you do well and that work in one situation, for example, may not work in another. Things that work in one school may not work in another school. So, your teaching may be different. According to the circumstances you're working in, the students you're working with. But it doesn't mean that one version is better than the other one, or one is good and one isn't. So I'm kind of resistant to these efforts to, to identify a good teacher. And perhaps just to say there is good teaching. And each one of us is responsible in the end for making our teaching better. Rather than trying to, reach some kind of state where we can put a full stop at the end of the sentence and say well, I'm now a good teacher. So the idea can also breed a certain, complacency I think. It can actually work against the idea of, of ongoing professional development, career development. And in a way I don't think this is helped by you know, the idea of, of, of, now the, you know, in many countries now, of moving through different stages and in each one you're identified as a particular kind of teacher. You know, a beginning teacher moving to expert teacher and so on. I'm not sure that these are very helpful, really. Because they, as I say, they, they kind of take away the, well they kind of undermine I think. The responsibility that we all have and the desire we all have to constantly be evaluating our own teaching and, and to try and improve it as much as we can, and to never stop doing that really.