#036 Carl Hendrick and Robin Macpherson: What does this look like in the classroom?

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On this episode of the Mr Barton Maths Podcast, I spoke to Carl Hendrick and Robin Macpherson.

Robin is a history teacher and currently an Assistant Rector at Dollar Academy in Scotland. Carl is an English teacher completing PhD at King’s College in English education, and is also head of Learning and Research at Wellington College. They have both worked on the Telegraph Festival of Education, and speak regularly at education conferences like researchED.

Now, the reason I wanted to get both Carl and Robin on the show is that firstly we have an inclusive policy here on the Mr Barton Maths podcasts – both mathematicians and non-mathematicians are welcome – and secondly, because they are the co-authors of what is probably my favourite book of 2017 – What does this look like in the classroom? It is one of the most successful attempt to bridge the gap between research and practice, and the lineup of contributors is, quite frankly, ridiculous. Are you ready for this? We have fellow podcast guests Dylan Wiliam, Daisy Christodoulou, Doug Lemov, Tom Bennett and Nick Rose, together with Lucy Crehan, Martin Robinson, David Didau, and more. It is like the Ocean’s 11 of education books, only there’s 18 of them.

I love the way the book is written, with the contributors responding to pertinent questions posed by teachers, such as “I want to improve my questioning style, what three bits of advice would you give me?”, and “what is the best way to deal with low-level disruption?”

Throughout the interview I tried to dig into the key takeaways from the book, and much more besides:

  • During the maths speed dating we learn about Carl’s experiences at school with maths, and I ask him what would have made things turn out differently?
  • Carl and Robin both talk us through lessons they have taught that went badly, and the lessons they learned from the experience
  • We ponder why there has been such a surge in interest in education research recently
  • They then each pick out one of their favourite strategies from the book, and what ensues is a fascinating discussion about marking, feedback, workload, and much more
  • We consider how past papers can be used most effectively in the run up to an exam?
  • Then Carl and Robin reflect on the most important and surprising research they have seen, before sharing some great blogs for us to check out

This episode is definitely one to share with your non-maths colleagues, with Carl and Robin sharing the kind of strategies that any teacher can benefit from. I hope the episode also provides a good overview of what I genuinely think is a superb and very important book.

A podcast about a book would not be complete without a plug about a book, so here it comes, as subtle as ever. My own book, How I wish I’d taught maths: lessons learned from research, conversations with experts, and 12 years of mistakes, published by John Catt Education, is released in January 2018. It is a collection of all the things I have learned over the last two years, looking back on the mistakes I have made, and what I now do differently in the classroom. In her review of the book, Jo Morgan says: Craig summarises the key points of the relevant research succinctly and his advice to teachers is perfectly pitched and instantly transferable to any maths classroom. For the sake of our current and future students, I certainly hope that this book becomes essential reading for maths teachers – and she wasn’t even under that much duress from me when she wrote it. Anyway, I hope you find the book useful.

On Twitter, Carl is @C_Hendrick
His website is chronotopeblog.com

On Twitter, Robin is @robin_macp
His website is robin-macpherson.com

What does this look like in the classroom? is available from Amazon here
Links to the books Carl and Robin recommend teachers read can be found here, along with the recommendations of all my other guests.

Carl Hendrick’s Big 3
1. Ben Newmark’s blog
2. Michael Fordham’s blog
3. Doug Lemov field notes
Bonus: Becky Allen for Data Lab

Robin Macpherson’s Big 3
1. Learning scientists blog
2. Tom Sherrington’s blog
3. Mark Healy’s blog

My usual plugs:

Thanks so much for listening, and I really hope you enjoy the show!
Craig Barton

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