What Every Teacher Needs to Know, by Jade Pearce

Why I read it

I would have bought and read this book regardless, but I was lucky enough to read and give feedback on ‘What Every Teacher Needs to Know’ last autumn. If you have followed Jade, you’ll know that she has spent the last three years on Twitter sharing countless resources. Teaching and Learning Guides, presentations, and many, many research paper summaries. Her work provides expertise, for free, without ego. It was clear that this book would always aim to follow a similar route: a comprehensive guide that provides genuine value to teachers and leaders. Jade recently said to me ‘I can’t believe people have actually paid for it’, not realising that she has been creating high-quality content for years that have added so much value to the education sector that I couldn’t even put a number on it.

In Summary:

What Every Teacher Needs to Know has the subtitle: How to embed evidence-informed teaching and learning in your school. To achieve this, and it does, it is divided into three parts:

  1. Part One: What does the evidence say? A summary of seminal research – Jade summarises 20 pieces of education literature, from a range of sources. For each piece, the key details are outlined meticulously, followed by a regular heading ‘Takeaways for Teaching’. I cannot imagine how long it took Jade to summarise these papers, some of which are huge. Every prescient detail is here for us, the reader, over 127 pages. In a matter of minutes, we can dip in and become informed about a key study, and then go to the source if we need more.
  2. Part Two: What does evidence-informed teaching look like in the classroom? Jade chooses seven areas of evidence-informed teaching she believes to be most important, such as explicit instruction and retrieval practice. For each one, she outlines the theory and research, but then adds in a plethora of practical applications across a range of subjects. The complex becomes tangible and accessible. It really is a step-by-step guide of theory to implementation.
  3. Part Three: How can schools develop an evidence-informed culture? This was the part that I was most looking forward to reading, and I hope Jade would say that I was the most encouraging about! Changing a school culture in any direction is tough, but adopting an evidence-informed mindset, and then application, is a real challenge. Here, Jade outlines, in micro detail, the steps that she and her school took, over a period of years, to become evidence-informed in their teaching. This includes precise direction over how to structure staff briefings, flexi-INSET days, and Teaching and Learning groups. It’s reflective, detailed, and does the heavy lifting. Fantastic.

Key Takeaways

Don’t take my word for it: it would have been easy for Jade to write her own anecdotal reflections on years of teaching and learning experience. And yet, she takes the approach whereby we explore the research with her, and then look at how it could be applied. Some sections look at the criticism of concepts or research, so that we can engage in debate. This is very much a ‘don’t take my word for it approach’, and the reader is much better off for it.

The Valhalla of Bibliographies and Recommended reading: every section of Jade’s book is packed with references to research papers and books, but she also compiles recommended reading lists for what helped her on this evidence-informed journey. So within this book’s wealth of knowledge from Jade, comes hundreds of others’ knowledge through the references and reading lists – you must check through them – it’s a career’s worth of reading and fun!

Keys to the mansion: if you want to become more evidence-informed as a teacher, as a school, or just want to improve your knowledge of certain components of evidence-informed teaching, this book has it all. Depending on your aims, Jade’s book will give you everything you need to make progress in your quest. It’s not just a map to the mansion, it’s the keys to the door.

Evidence informed vs evidence based: Jade points out that there is a difference between being evidence informed and evidence based. Evidence-informed teaching, Jade explains, combines research with a teacher’s expertise and professional judgement; they can apply this to their own context to teach effectively for that particular school or group. Evidence-based teaching, though, can imply a more fixed or prescriptive approach whereby a teacher is guided by research findings over their own experience. Jade explains that her approach aligns with the former, which is the basis for this book’s exploration of research and professional judgment.

Favourite quote:                                                             

‘Evidence-informed teaching enables us to reduce workload by identifying those practises that have a large impact on workload but little impact on learning’

Read this if:

You are a teacher who wants to improve their knowledge about evidence-informed teaching

You are a leader who wants to learn and share about key studies and approaches to teaching and learning

You want to develop a whole-school strategy to evidence-informed teaching

The book is out on 15th September 2022. Buy it here.

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