HOW2s are great for when we’re designing a new course, as they help us get out of a rut.
After the initial three years of teaching, where much is learned, it seems that professional learning can tail off. And for many teachers with an established practice, it makes sense to stick to hard-earned and effective practices. So, while I’ve used the term ‘rut’, it isn’t in any way a pejorative term.
I used the term because that’s how Lee described one of the benefits of using the HOW2s. According to Lee, simply having a wide repertoire of techniques available for easy scanning, naturally prompts a reflective view of your teaching practice.
Lee also commented on how the HOW2s provide easy explanations for rapid and painless comprehension. Their constant availability was also a boon, when contrasted with the content-overfill of a training day. Quite apart from the fact that much of the content may be irrelevant to personal teaching needs, the over-packed nature of a training day created a very unproductive state of cognitive overload.
If you read the Department for Education’s recently published Standards for Teachers’ Professional Development (click here), you’ll learn that training should be extended to several months’ duration. Definitely not contained in a day’s course.
Lee emphasised throughout our short conversation the term ‘reflection’. He was particularly enlightening when referring to combinations of HOW2s, student learning needs and challenges of topic content.
This sort of thinking is very advanced as it asks of any solution its fit with specific teaching and learning contexts. By considering these three components and their relationships, Lee had hit upon a rigorous processof reflection. He’s also realised that there are no magic solutions or techniques. Each has to be tailored to meet the particular demands of student needs and subject content.
For this reason, the HOW2 Cycle is well worth studying.
If you notice, adaptation is built into step 4 where you are encourage to consider if any adaptation is needed to the HOW2. And then, from that point onwards, you are in an interactive internal feedback loop. Step 5 sees you applying you choice and possible adaptation in your teaching, followed by step 6 which is a review of its impact.
This may lead you, as the dotted line suggests, back to step 4, ready for more adaptations. And so on. In this sense, working in this fashion puts some real practical weight behind the sometimes too abstract phrase ‘reflective practitioner’.