CAT4 data comes with an obligation on the part of the teacher. Data is meaningless unless it can be applied and, in this case, applied to student learning so that they are challenged and supported as they make further progress, guided by effective teacher strategies. As teachers begin to take ownership of the data, becoming more confident in its application, some of that ownership can be passed to the students themselves. As we have seen in this document, for students to take ownership of their learning, they need to know what outcomes the teacher wants, in language that means something to them and using examples that are clearly understood.
Teachers’ understanding of what their students know is important for making successful teaching steps that start from the right place. CAT4 cannot help with this, since each student’s specific level of skills is best discovered with experience and unstandardised questions and answers. Building on an understanding of a student’s interests, skills, weaknesses, motivations and anxieties is the best way of grounding lessons, but even then, young people will continue to surprise a teacher.
Scaffolding and modelling support skill acquisition by demonstrating the steps in a process that an expert would apply to a new problem. When skills become ‘overlearned’, and, thus, automatic, metacognitive processes can be taught explicitly to close the gap between a set of learners and experts. The ideas of active retrieval to minimise forgetting, plenaries to summarise, and contextualising new information in relation to previous information will help ‘raise the tide to raise the boats’ for the majority of the class.
Group work that is structured to get the best from peer-learning and modelling, paying particular attention to the demands of verbalisation, will support active learning, adding an invaluable tool to the teacher’s repertoire. Being confident with using visual media, mnemonics, games and such will provide a range of learning angles that can enhance later recall of material.
Understanding that students may have specific learning difficulties that might get in the way of realising their expected potential is a key skill for teachers also. These barriers could include low levels of English language fluency, dyslexia, dyscalculia, low self-esteem or negative attitudes to one’s own learning capacity. Although often not flagged by CAT4 directly, this document has introduced these concepts as angles for consideration by the teacher who receives a pattern of results that they are not expecting from a student.
A teacher’s job is not easy. Managing groups of people through their learning journey into adulthood and successfully balancing their cognitive, metacognitive and non-cognitive development is something that GL can only hope to assist with indirectly through insight and consideration of research and best practice. We hope that teachers around the world continue to find these insights relevant and helpful to them and, ultimately, to their students.