Professional Development Overview

Each organisation we work with is different. Accordingly our starting point is to understand your needs and setting as best we can. We do this via a no fee conversation and where appropriate, the use of a proprietary evaluation tool that identifies your current position when it comes to developing ‘meta’ learners and supports both you and us to then collaboratively shape the most appropriate plan to meet your professional development requirements in this area.

That tailored plan typically contains elements selected from our ‘Temple Menu’ below - it can be as little as a one off hour of online advice with a single member of staff, to a series of in person training inputs with your whole teaching team over a number of years. Or, anything in between.

The 'Temple Menu'

Our ‘Temple Menu’ is based on evidence that to have the best chance of sustainable impact, then schools should take a whole school approach to professional development initiatives. If the objective of a school is to develop a culture that nurtures metacognitive, self regulating ‘meta’ learners then this is best built on the pillars of a common vision, a common language and the use of a common set of tools and strategies. We have designed a series of inputs that correspond to each of these areas – allowing schools to build their own, bespoke, plans to sustainable impact.

Thinking Matters Temple Menu

Common Vision

Introduction to Metacognition and Self-Regulation: This 90-minute online workshop is designed to engage with whole staff teams to explore the meaning of metacognition and its benefits and to consider how students may be supported as they plan, monitor and evaluate. Some key metacognitive tools and strategies which can be utilised across the whole school will be demonstrated. The workshop aims to inform as well as engage participants in interactive activities, giving a deeper understanding of metacognition and how to adopt a metacognitive approach across the whole school.

Self-Evaluation of Whole School Metacognition: The Thinking Matters Self-Evaluation Audit Tool reflects the EEF’s recommendations and The University of Exeter’s ‘Thinking School’ accreditation criteria. It can provide a quick and efficient way for schools to inform their understanding of what is working well, what could be improved and where there may be potential gaps in terms of developing metacognition at a whole school level. This can provide a useful baseline helping identification of the next steps to be taken on the journey to developing metacognitive, self-regulating learners. Guidance and advice on use of the tool and on consideration of next steps can also be provided by an experienced Thinking Matters consultant.

Planning for effective whole-school implementation: Bespoke consultancy support can be provided to Headteachers and SLTs on how best to implement an impactful, sustainable approach to embedding metacognition in a practical way across a whole school. Based on a robust analysis of implementation science and school improvement literature, our consultants will take time to understand each school’s individual contexts and offer advice on how to embed and measure impact. This may include guidance on effective prioritisation in the school’s SIP, defining the ‘meta-learner vision’, aligning the approach with inspectorate requirements, guidance on selecting and empowering a ‘Drive Team’ and on governor, parent and community engagement. 

Clarifying your ‘Meta’ Learner Vision: This 90-minute workshop may be facilitated with a SLT, Drive Team or whole staff team and is designed to facilitate consideration of the school’s vision for their students as ‘meta-learners’ (i.e. independent learners who demonstrate capacities to be metacognitive and to self-regulate). Based on the Thinking Matters concept of the meta-learner as an archer, the workshop prompts participants to create a visual ‘target’ which defines the school’s vision by identifying specific cognitive capabilities and intelligent learning behaviours which are priorities for their learners. Use of the TM Meta-Mirror software may also be considered if a school opts to use it.

Developing a Thinking School for the Drive Team: This one-day course seeks to support the school’s Drive Team in their role in leading implementation of whole school implementation. The content provides information, and also engages the team in interactive activities and discussion as they explore the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of the Thinking School approach, clarify the school’s vision for their ‘meta-learners’ and consider the SPARE model as a framework for effective implementation. Team members also have the opportunity to receive their individual Motivational Map report and to consider their role as agents of change in the school.

Guidance on The University of Exeter’s Accreditation Process: The University of Exeter offers a process whereby schools may gain accreditation as a Thinking School. Accredited schools have used this process as an opportunity to demonstrate and affirm their commitment to the principles of becoming a Thinking School and to build an enduring culture of reflective practice. TM can provide bespoke consultancy guidance and advice to schools as they prepare for accreditation with the University. We also offer accreditation software which enables schools to gather and store evidence against the University’s criteria and to monitor progress in relation to achieving the official Thinking School status.

Common Language

Understanding the Science of Learning: Developing a shared understanding of the findings of neuroscience and psychology relevant to learning and teaching is an integral feature of a Thinking School. This one-day course can be facilitated with the whole staff or smaller teams of staff who are interested in enhancing their professional knowledge of the Science of Learning and in reflecting on how that may inform pedagogical practice. Topics addressed include an introduction to brain structure and functioning, memory, the emotive brain, deliberate practice, motivation and brain operating modes. The course includes presentation of information, opportunity for engagement in interactive workshops and discussion, and time for reflection on implications for classroom practice. Use of TM’s Adventures in Metacognition (AiM) resources may also be considered by schools accessing this course.

Applying the Science of Motivation to Teaching and Learning: The EEF states that cognition, metacognition and motivation all play a key role in the development of self-regulated learning. This 2 hour workshop may be facilitated online or in-person. It seeks to explore the science behind motivation and to consider what it is that drives individuals and how tapping into this can transform levels of performance and wellbeing for learners. Attendees have the opportunity to complete a Motivational Map questionnaire and receive an individual report which provides insight into the nature of their motivation and their current levels of motivation.

Applying the Science of Memory to Teaching and Learning: Memory is our ability to encode, store, retain and subsequently recall information and past experiences in the human brain. By understanding how memory works it is possible for learners to improve their capacity to take in, store and retrieve information. This 2 hour workshop seeks to provide staff with useful information on the science of memory, to introduce some practical strategies which can be used to improve memory and to offer opportunity for reflection on implications for pedagogy and practice.

Skilful Questioning and Effective Feedback for Meta-Learners: Questioning is a fundamental skill for both the teacher as ‘cognitive coach’ and for the student as ‘meta-learner’. Provision of high-quality feedback to students is integral in effective teaching and can have a high level of impact on student progress. This one day staff training session offers the opportunity to review research findings on effective questioning techniques and feedback strategies to consider how they can be used to deepen and extend student thinking. Opportunity will also be provided to consider strategies to improve the scope and quality of students’ questions. The role of feedback in Deliberate Practice and its connection with motivation will also be explored.

Applying Deliberate Practice to Teaching and Learning: Deliberate Practice refers to a specific type of practice that is purposeful and systematic. While regular practice might include mindless repetition, deliberate practice requires focused attention and engagement with an expert who can provide coaching and feedback to guide more focused repetition and rehearsal. This 2 hour workshop will introduce the concept and offer time for consideration of practical application in teaching and learning as well as a clear model for students to apply deliberate practice to improve at anything they want to. 

Developing Oracy in Meta-Learners: The links between language and thinking are well-documented and it is thus important that oracy skills are explicitly addressed alongside cognitive skills for students who are developing as meta-learners. The many benefits for individuals of sharing ideas and working collaboratively – or ‘interthinking’ – include clarifying their own thinking, building upon and extending their ideas and enriching their knowledge. This one-day course offers an overview of research in this field and introduces a range of metacognitive tools and strategies, including collaborative group work approaches, which can be used to stimulate oracy skills across the school.

Common Tools & Strategies

Introducing and Embedding Thinking Frames: Metacognitive visual tools enable students to look into their own thinking and to  see their thinking displayed. The TM Thinking Frames are visual tools which can be used to great effect for this purpose. This course aims to introduce Thinking Frames as metacognitive visual tools which can be utilised across the whole school with all age groups and in all curricular areas. It also offers a licence to use Thinking Frames in your school. Best completed as a two day course with a gap of at least three months between days ‘Introducing TFs’ looks at the rationale underpinning use of the tools. School and classroom examples of the TFs in use are shared and opportunity is provided for staff to plan for introducing them to students in their own practice. ‘Embedding TFs’ goes deeper into the use of the Frames with a focus on the reflective lens to explicitly develop your schools chosen cognitive skills and learning behaviours. 

Embedding Thinking Practice with Thinking Routines: In building a culture of whole school metacognition, schools will utilise agreed routines which will seek to make thinking more explicit, or visible, in students’ learning. This one-day course seeks to build on the concept of Deliberate Practice when applied in the context of thinking to introduce the idea of students engaging in ‘Thinking Practice’. A selection of Thinking Routines, such as those developed by Project Zero, Graduate School of Harvard will be introduced through practical workshops and opportunity will be provided to plan for whole school implementation of use of the routines on pedagogy and practice.

Integrating Thinking Moves with Thinking Frames: This one-day course is designed for schools who have already embedded the Thinking Frames as a metacognitive visual tool across the school. The Thinking Moves A-Z is a vocabulary of types of thinking which are aligned with the letters of the alphabet. The Moves are designed to be understandable, comprehensive and memorable and integrate seamlessly as a metacognitive language alongside the Thinking Frames. The course introduces the Moves, allows your school a licence to use them and offers exemplification of their use in classroom practice integrated with Thinking Frames. It also provides guidance for whole school implementation.

Using Metacognitive Tools for Critical and/or Creative Thinking: For children and young people growing up in the 21st century, the fast pace of technological change, ease of access to information, and the insecurities created by global events present many challenges.. As schools seek to ‘futureproof’ their learners, the importance of equipping them with critical and creative thinking skills is recognised as fundamental to their capacity to not just survive but to thrive. This one-day course aims to explore the nature of critical and creative thinking skills and provides practical workshops and demonstrations of how a range of metacognitive tools may be utilised in the classroom to build mastery of these skills. (N.B. The course can alternatively be offered as half-day workshops to address either critical or creative thinking.

Embedding Intelligent Learning Behaviours: This one-day course aims to support schools in defining the intelligent learning behaviours which are important for their meta-learners. Practical strategies will be introduced in workshops and examples of school practice shared to demonstrate how specific learning behaviours may be developed in learners. Guidance on effective whole school implementation will be provided, based on the work of Art Costa and Bena Kallick. Use of TM’s Meta-Mirror software may also be considered by schools accessing this training.

Utilising Motivational Maps with Students and/or SLT: Building on the science of motivation, Motivational Maps may be used as a helpful tool to enhance an individual’s understanding of the nature of their motivation, and can transform levels of performance and well-being for individuals. This online module enables members of a cohort of students and/or a school’s SLT to complete a Motivational Map questionnaire and receive their own individual reports to inform them of the nature of their motivation and current level of motivation. For students who complete a Map questionnaire, in addition to their individual report, parent and mentor reports are also available and the class teacher/tutor also receives an overall class report. As analysis of individual responses within a team context can also improve levels of team performance and of satisfaction in roles, a team report can also be provided for SLTs who complete their Map questionnaires. All schools who access the Motivational Maps are offered an online session with a TM Consultant to provide some guidance on analysis of the reports.

A Typical Whole School Plan

Click here to view an example school plan following the 'Core Approach'

A Typical School Group Plan

Click here to view an example training plan designed for school groups

Individual Teacher Development Course

Master and embed metacognitive strategies into daily practice

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