Making The Most Of Live Online Learning Sessions – Loom Presentation by Joanne Miles

I have been talking to teachers recently about how we make the most of live online learning sessions with students and so here are some thoughts on that hot topic:

And here is the slide presentation to download:


Posted in Advanced Practitioners, Coronavirus, Digital skills, Lesson planning, Online teaching, Professional Development, Staff Development | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why teachers need reflection and development space right now

For teachers in all settings the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in major changes to the way we plan and deliver learning programmes with students. As a profession we have had to re-think our approaches to communication, engagement, structuring sessions and programmes, using resources and tools, timing, pacing, dynamics…the list goes on. It has been a dramatic, sudden and rapid change to practice with an emphasis on responding quickly in an emergency in the best way visible at that point. My impression from running sharing sessions on Zoom and Virtual Teach Meets across the country is that there has been precious little time to stop and reflect or collaborate to share approaches or resources in a thoughtful developmental space.


So at this point in the academic year, it is vital for teachers to have space and time to stand back and review their recent experiences with professional support and guidance. I am finding that teachers value a safe space to actually process what they have noticed at this time and to be honest about what has been demanding, draining, puzzling and confusing about the situation they find themselves in. They also mention how reassuring it is to hear from colleagues about common challenges and tell me that they feel less isolated and self-critical when they share these experiences and dilemmas with others. Nobody was trained to deliver learning this way in an international state of emergency so we are all finding our way through it in different ways, with a range of learning points to share.


It is interesting to notice that some teachers have very positive and inspiring messages to share about learners who have engaged well with the new online model and digital strategies that have proved helpful in configuring new kinds of learning sessions. It is not all doom and gloom out there by any means. An emerging thread in recent conversations has been around the desire to keep the positive things that are starting to happen with learners around personalised learning through technology and the acquisition of greater digital skills for staff and students. Teachers can see that taking those back into our next academic year will have wider benefits for richer learning programmes and the potential to enhance employability/study skills for students. When we go back in, we are not going BACK but FORWARDS, DIFFERENTLY, is the message I am hearing.


With the usual pressures of end of year activities, coupled with the added challenges of finalising assessments and grades, some organisations have told me that this year there is no time for CPD. I feel this is a huge mistake and misinterpretation of what teachers will find helpful now. I think nobody would suggest huge time-consuming training programmes to bog down valuable time. The best tool for the job right now is a series of short, well-focused sessions of reflection and bite-sized development on relevant thinking, tools and techniques to enhance planning and delivery. I am finding that 60-90 minute sessions in virtual boxes work well and people can focus, contribute and come up with some useful next steps for action without being overwhelmed. Delivering training this week on Zoom for groups on maximising learning in live spaces and making the most of blended learning, I have been surprised by the depth of thinking and development of ideas that we can achieve in a short time through an online live session. There has been a very open and collaborative tone from teachers during these sessions – I can see that they are ready to think, share and plan forward now, despite the inevitable levels of fatigue from the last months of the pandemic.


In terms of training, I have focused on making the best of blended approaches by thinking about how we translate pedagogy into digital tools and spaces. We have been looking at helpful learning principles to underpin the way we think about planning and delivering blended models next year, without overwhelming staff with ten sexy new digital tools to take on board. I think at this point, getting the foundations right for future blended approaches is the most important conversation we can be having. On the digital tools side, I think less is more at this point – ensuring staff have access to bite-sized training and how to guides/video tutorials related to the main college platform for learning and exposing them to a few examples of digital tools for screen capture, checking learning, giving feedback, fostering collaboration and presenting information to learners. Many teachers have said to me that they are aware that they need to brush up on aspects of their learning platform or learn to use a specific new tech tool because it has a particular learning purpose for their students. I think personalised targeted development will be very important in the next two months, responding through CPD and coaching sessions, to address a range of needs and interests. Offering 1:1 time with a coach or Advanced Practitioner to work on any aspect of practice will be a valuable resource for teachers to use.


At this point I would recommend a mix of sharing practice sessions, to encourage reflection and collaborative thinking across the organisation, with some specific short CPD sessions and then 1:1/small group slots to take this into planning. Plenty of this development can be led internally but working with trusted external trainers will be helpful in terms of bringing fresh insights and resources, professional facilitation skills and a perspective from the wider sector or world of research. With the support of structured reflection and development time that speaks to the moment, I think teachers will go off on holiday much better prepared and feeling more resourceful than they may do right now.





Posted in Advanced Practitioners, Coaching, Coronavirus, CPD, CPD for Teachers, Culture for Learning, Digital skills, FE, Online teaching, reflection, Sharing good practice, Staff Development, Teaching and learning, Uncategorized, Zoom/video conferencing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Blended Learning: Principles, Pointers and Practices for Teachers

Free online training course on blended learning:


James Kieft on how COVID-19 could alter the way we plan for learning and deliver lessons next year:


What is blended learning?


Three principles for designing effective blended courses:


Set of links from Edutopia on different aspects of blended learning:


Developing blended learning content:


Guidance on accessibility in resource design from JISC:


Approaches to learning design, including blended, flipped and online learning:


Thanks to Stef Wilkinson for sharing these links with me:

Some useful content from Turnitin on principles to make remote learning effective for students:

Best practices in distance education from the US – 10 principles of effective online teaching



Posted in Coronavirus, Digital skills, Flipped learning, Online teaching, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Returning to School, College or University? Guidance for parents, teachers and students

UK Government Guidance

Government guidance on COVID-19 safeguarding in schools and colleges:

Sixth Form Colleges Association guidance on the return to college buildings in June 2020:

Government support for mental health of students and teachers:


Supporting Staff and Learners: The Return to School, College or University

What parents need to know about the return to schools – thoughts from Unicef

Helpful guidance to support pupils with the return to school:

Helpful guidance to support HE students with mental health:

National Education Union guidance on COVID-19 for teachers:

A global perspective on coming back into schools:


Posted in Coronavirus, FE, HE/University, schools | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Coming Out of Lockdown: Strategies for Tackling The Mental and Emotional Challenges

Mental and Emotional Challenges

A really useful website with information about different reactions to coming out of lockdown and how we can look after our mental health:

Strategies for responding to a range of emotional responses to the pandemic:

A fascinating read about quarantine and caution fatigue in the pandemic:

Practical strategies for coping with the pandemic:

Interesting read about how our emotional reactions may have changed during the quarantine period:

How we can work on our morale at this point in the lockdown:

Ways to tackle fear and uncertainty caused by the pandemic:

Tips and approaches for looking after your mental health while working in the pandemic:

Mental health issues in the teaching profession during COVID-19:

The potential for longer-term trauma from the pandemic:

Posted in Coronavirus, FE, Mindset, schools, Wellbeing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How can we enhance the depth and quality of reflection around lesson observation through coaching?

I was part of a webinar recently organised by CollectivEd which focused on having better professional conversations and building professional cultures for teachers to thrive in. I spoke about how we can enhance the depth and quality of reflection around lesson observation through the use of coaching, using insights from my work on embedding coaching skills and approaches in schools and colleges.

Here is a Loom recording of the main points I raised, as well as a slide presentation providing more detail.

If you are interested in developing coaching capacity in your school or college, it would be great to hear from you as I can provide consultancy, planning, training and coaching support.



Posted in Advanced Practitioners, Coaching, coaching skills, CPD for Teachers, FE, Lesson observations, Peer observation, Professional Development, reflection, Staff Development, Teacher education, Teaching and learning, Ungraded lesson observations | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Preparing For Next Academic Year In FE Colleges: Funding, Protective Measures,Wellbeing And Planning Learning

Official guidance


Protective measures in colleges




Supporting wellbeing

The third edition of #JoyFE is here:


Technology and remote blended/learning

Education and Training Foundation – resources, CPD and guidance for remote teaching and learning and digital skills:


Delivery of learning

School-based information here but some of the strategies may well work in FE too:



Posted in Coronavirus, Digital skills, FE, Online teaching, Wellbeing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sharing Plans And Practices For Unseen Observation: Video of Zoom Session with Prof Matt O’Leary and Joanne Miles

Today I had the pleasure of hosting a Zoom session with Prof Matt O’Leary and colleagues from the FE sector, to discuss plans and practices related to unseen observation. Here is the video clip of that session for download.“>SharingPlansAndPracticesForUnseenObservationZoomSessionJune11th2020

If you missed our first session together in May, here is my recent blog post on unseen observation along with the link to that video clip:

Unseen observation and virtual walk throughs: Zoom session with Prof Matt O’Leary and Joanne Miles, May 2020


Posted in Advanced Practitioners, Coaching, coaching skills, CPD, CPD for Teachers, Culture for Learning, FE, Innovation and Creativity in T&L, Lesson observations, Peer observation, Professional Development, reflection, Staff Development, Teacher education, Uncategorized, Ungraded lesson observations, Unseen observations | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Planning your delivery model for next year in FE: Some prompt questions

Which models are we considering for delivery of learning programmes next year and why are we interested in those particular models? For example, online, blended or classroom-focused


How well does each model suit the learning outcomes of our different programmes?


What are the benefits and risks of each model for different learners?


What are the pros and cons of each model for teaching staff? And support staff? And employers and other partners?


How might learners at different levels respond to these models of delivery?


What benefits and challenges could each model have in terms of engaging different learners?


What implications would each model have for our resources? (staffing, timetabling, materials, equipment, technology and buildings)


What does research and evidence say about the different models and their most effective applications in learning?


What have we learned so far about online delivery and its challenges?


What benefits and advantages has online delivery brought to our learning programmes so far?


What has worked well online that we want to develop further in our programmes next year?


Where have there been obstacles and barriers in online delivery and how can we address them next year?


If we are moving to an extended use of online/blended delivery, where do we have expertise in house that can support the quality of that work?


Do we need to buy in any specific skill sets or resources to improve the quality of our online or blended delivery?


Which aspects of our programmes will work well online?


Which aspects of our programme require face-to-face contact?


Which aspects of our programme would be enhanced by face-to-face contact?


How frequently do we want to see learners in live sessions in order to maintain rapport, relationships and momentum in learning?


How can we ensure that learners get an effective balance of powerful face-to-face sessions and engaging online content?


When planning live sessions in our programmes (face-to-face or in virtual spaces), how can we best use them to deepen and extend learning?


How can we best use digital tools and online content to build knowledge and encourage recall/retrieval?


Which digital skills do we need to develop with learners during induction?


Which independent learning habits and skills do we need to develop with learners during induction?


How can we build rapport with learners we haven’t met face-to-face yet?


How can we help learners to connect and bond if face-to-face whole group sessions are not possible for a while?


How can we offer pastoral support and effective tutorials through online or blended channels, if needs be?


How can we build our own skills in a few key approaches or tools, ready for next year?


How can we share our experiences and resources from teaching in the pandemic?


How can we support each other as a teaching team going forward into next year?


How can we review the impact of our chosen delivery model with learners?



Posted in Coronavirus, Digital skills, FE, Online teaching, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Planning For Next Year In FE: Conversations With Leaders

I have been hosting Zoom calls with FE leaders recently to share experiences and ideas about leadership in the pandemic. This Loom presentation gives a summary of the ideas shared with me on those calls.

Posted in Coronavirus, Digital skills, FE, Planning for Learning, Uncategorized, Wellbeing | Tagged , | Leave a comment