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Geoff Petty discusses his top tips for new and existing practitioners at the #SETconf2019

Geoff Petty

We recorded a podcast with Geoff Petty at the SET 2019 Annual conference. Geoff discusses his top tips for new and existing practitioners at the #SETconf2019, with a particular focus around questioning techniques.


For people that are just starting out in their career, becoming a teacher, becoming a practitioner, what are the things they should be focusing on early on in their career?

Well, that’s a really good question, because I think very often they’re looking for survival, they’ve got a big time table and so on.

But I think it’s really important to get questioning, right. There are questioning methods, mentioned in my books and elsewhere, like assertive questioning, which work fantastically well and make your life as a teacher much easier, and much more effective.

The most commonly used questioning methods are in many ways the least effective.

We’ve just done an activity actually this morning with some participants at the conference and they were asked to evaluate six questioning methods and they found the two most commonly used ones are the least effective questioning methods. So we were also looking at four really powerful methods, which they evaluated as being much more powerful. Get the questioning methodology right would be one thing I think would be worthwhile.

And the other, I think would be to understand that teaching is about getting the students to actively use their learning so that you can find the errors in the omissions in their learning, and put those right. And there are lots of very powerful methods which do this. And really practicing those is key because the thing that makes the biggest difference in terms of student achievement is really the student activity and the methodology the teacher uses to get the students active. That has more impact on students learning than any other factor we can change.

For people who are existing practitioners what would be your top tips that they should be focusing on for 2020, what they could be looking at maybe for their CPD, or what they could be focusing on for next year?

Well, I think, you know, going back to this idea that what makes the biggest difference in student’s achievement is the exact methodology the teacher uses, the teaching methods, the techniques, the strategies that they use.

I think that the thing that an experienced teacher can do is to think about what they’d like to improve, what they feel doesn’t go so well.

Maybe some topics that the students find really hard every year, or problems they have with their teaching. It might be a behaviour problem or it might be that students produce poor quality assignments for them, they’re not very good at writing.

Whatever the issue is, identify it and then start looking at the literature to try and find some strategies which would address that difficulty. Also think about their own difficulty as a teacher. If they find questioning hard, or if they find marking boring, or whatever it might be. So what problems do the students have, what problems do you as a teacher have, how could those be addressed by best practice methods?

Have a go, try them out, experiment!

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