Friday 20th March 2020. A date we’ll never forget. I was actually in a pub, with my son, when the news came through. Lockdown…schools closed.
The greatest joy of this period, difficult for all of us in so many different ways, has been the chance to study and read around the great issue of pedagogy. So now I finally understand what Dylan Wiliam stands for, and why Stephen (rightly) raved about him back in September and I thought to myself ‘Am I the only person in the room who’s never heard of this person? Best I keep schtum.’
Craig Barton is a maths teacher in the North West somewhere whose book ‘How I wish I’d taught Maths’ is a bit of a favourite of mine. He has branched out into websites and podcasts and you-name-it, and it is all really useful stuff. His two-hour podcast with Dylan Wiliam as his guest, blew me away. A master class in learning, memory, cognitive engagement, lesson design, formative assessment, struggle, multiple choice questions, retrieval practice, feedback and much more. And slowly it was making sense. The clarity, the precision, the confidence which comes from decades of study, research and practice in the way he uses language.
The way we all, but as teachers in particular, use language has always been a bit of a ‘thing’ for me, and to be honest I don’t know where it comes from. But it’s a thing. Language used accurately, but kindly, is beautiful. How to deliver feedback so that it will be acted on is something we all get wrong a lot of the time. Who said ‘the meaning of the message is the response you get’? Use language carefully and it will serve you well. My point being that not only does Dylan Wiliam have some big messages but also that he delivers them in a compelling way. Better late than never.