Responsive Teaching Cognitive Science and Formative Assessment in Practice
This essential guide helps teachers refine their approach to fundamental challenges in the classroom. Based on research from cognitive science and formative assessment, it ensures teachers can offer all students the support and challenge they need and can do so sustainably.
Written by an experienced teacher and teacher educator, the book balances evidence-informed principles and practical suggestions. It contains:
- A detailed exploration of six core problems that all teachers face in planning lessons, assessing learning and responding to students,
- Effective practical strategies to address each of these problems across a range of subjects,
- Useful examples of each strategy in practice and accounts from teachers already using these approaches,
- Checklists to apply each principle successfully and advice tailored to teachers with specific responsibilities.
This innovative book is a valuable resource for new and experienced teachers alike who wish to become more responsive teachers. It offers the evidence, practical strategies and supportive advice needed to make sustainable, worthwhile changes.
Foreword Dylan Wiliam
Introduction: Getting responsive teaching wrong
Problem 1: How can we plan a unit, when we want students to learn so much, and have so little time?
Problem 2: How can we plan a lesson, when we want students to learn so much, and have so little time?
Problem 3: How can we show students what success looks like?
Problem 4: How can we tell what students learned in the lesson?
Problem 5: How can we tell what students are thinking?
Problem 6: How can we help every students improve?
Problem 7: How can we make this work in reality?
"Through the use of vignettes, stories, and teachers’ own accounts, Harry Fletcher-Wood takes us on a journey, from the tokenistic adoption of assessment for learning that was so common in the Key Stage 3 Strategy, to a deep understanding of how we can make our teaching responsive to our students’ needs. I know of no other book that comes close to this in helping teachers really understand, at the deepest level, what makes teaching responsive to students, and how every teacher can use these ideas to improve their practice." - Dylan Wiliam, Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment at the UCL Institute of Education, UK
""I taught poorly for a long time," Fletcher-Wood writes with humility at the outset of this outstanding and insightful book. He then proceeds to drill down into the details of design and decision-making, incorporating research and adapting it to the realities of the classroom. The result is a book that should ensure that teachers can reliably and sustainably help their students achieve the highest levels of success. I can’t recommend it highly enough." - Doug Lemov, author of Teach Like a Champion 2.0 and Reading Reconsidered and Managing Director at Uncommon Schools, USA
"This deeply reflective book is rooted in a careful consideration of the realities of teaching and learning in school. It determinedly identifies and explores six enduring problems of teaching and explores each with a rich combination of research evidence; personal reflection; confident suggestion and grounded example. This approach makes it a hugely useful resource for teachers and school leaders alike. Anyone giving this book due attention will find their practice challenged and enhanced. Harry Fletcher Wood's humbly expressed insights have the potential to transform learning for teachers and for children in our schools." - Jonathan Gower, Headteacher at Sherwell Valley Primary School, UK
"Like the title, the whole content of ‘Responsive Teaching’ draws on what is known from research into teaching, learning and assessment to offer thousands of nuanced suggestions for teachers of all subjects. By presenting chapters as a series of ‘problems’, Harry recognises all the inconsistencies and contradictions that teachers face in their daily routines. He offers his solutions by blending research findings with narratives of classroom settings – allowing teachers to work through their own versions of these ‘problems’ with planning, focus, assessment, etc.
Teachers will enjoy systematic accounts of classroom practice, and all the frustrations we regularly feel, leading to explanations of strategies which are underpinned by research into learners’ experiences as well as pedagogical findings. Harry offers great value for teachers, Heads of Department and whole schools, in that the ‘problems’ identified exist for all of us, on a range of scales, and the suggestions and solutions offered can apply to a variety of situations.
As a teacher of 28 years’ experience, I’m left with three main responses to this book:
- I wish I’d known all of this sooner
- I’m still doing so much wrong
- I can’t wait to put this into practice.
This is the sort of book on teaching that you want to read again as soon as you’ve finished, and it’s the sort of book you want to give to your department and recommend to all your teacher friends not just because you think it’s going to make their teaching more effective, but because you think it’s going to make their teaching lives that bit easier too." - Lisa J. Pettifer, Head of English, Morton Academy, UK
"This is a timely book serving the needs of busy school leaders and teachers who are eager to search for underlying academic research to underpin evidence informed practice in their school. Harry Fletcher-Wood does this for them and, as the Headteacher of a Research School, I can see this becoming the ‘turn to guide’ for discerning CPD organisers, research leads, subject specialists and a mainstay of journal clubs and staff micro research. Each chapter offers practical evidence based on research that is then supported by classroom examples and advice to respond to a common problem e.g. ‘How can we plan a unit, when we want students to learn so much, and have so little time?’ The responsive teaching guide takes the reader through research, raises questions that will be familiar to us all and guides us through ‘how can we make this work in reality’. Highly recommended." - David Jones, Headteacher at Meols Cop High School, UK
"This is a timely book that combines being accessible and straightforward and therefore completely applicable to classroom practice with an underpinning evidence base and clearly articulated principles. As Harry states himself – too often teachers are given a description of what to do and how to do it, but no rationale for why it might work or indeed why this matters. This book addresses this problem head on, which makes it a powerful tool for all who want to improve classroom practice." - Professor Samantha Twiselton, Director of Sheffield Institution of Education, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
"This is a hugely useful book. It identifies problems and combines research with plenty of practical examples to begin to solve them. A must-read for all teachers and school leaders." - Jemma Sherwood, Head of Mathematics, Haybridge High School and Sixth Form, UK
"'I taught poorly for a long time…'
This sums up the tone of this very helpful book. Harry Fletcher-Wood doesn’t preach from a position of assumed authority, despite the huge depth of knowledge and understanding he evidently has. Instead, he works with you to answer the questions that, as a teacher, you probably ask yourself most days. For example, how to fit everything you want students to learn into the limited time you have, how to know if they’ve learned anything and how to find out what they’re actually thinking.
It’s an absorbing read. It really appeals to the researcher in me: the bibliography alone makes it a must-buy! But most importantly, it appeals to the teacher in me. As teachers, we want to help others learn, but how can we ensure that they do? And how do we know when this has happened?
After summarising the evidence behind each question, Harry offers practical advice illustrated by case studies and exemplars, outlining research-informed approaches that are easily applicable within the classroom.
This book will arm you with approaches you can use immediately in your planning, teaching and assessment. But it will leave you with a solid understanding of the research behind them, so that you can reflect on them and develop them further." - Niki Kaiser, Chemistry teacher and Network Research Lead, Norwich Research School at Notre Dame, UK
"I found myself nodding along so much whilst reading Responsive Teaching that I genuinely had a sore neck afterwards. But the pain was worth it, for I feel I now have a deeper understanding and a stronger set of principles for planning more effective lessons, identifying what students know, and responding accordingly. Wow, this is an incredible book." - Craig Barton, Maths teacher and author of How I wish I’d taught maths, UK