Inspiring teachers: perspectives and practices

Professor Pam Sammons

Professor Alison Kingston

Ariel Lindorff-Vijayendran

Lorena Ortega

Edited by Anna Riggall

This study investigates the notion of ‘inspiring’ teaching. It arose from headteachers’ suggestions that schools nominate a number of ‘inspiring’ teachers so that their practice could be studied and the results shared across the participating schools.

The main aim of the research was to provide robust new evidence about both inspiring teachers and inspiring teaching from different perspectives to increase understanding of these widely used but elusive and often poorly defined concepts.

This report draws primarily on the academic study, with contributions from the practitioner study. There was remarkable consistency of message between the findings of the two phases of research with the academic study offering much deeper detail and explanation due to the nature of the smaller sample and in-depth mixed methodology that it applied. For this reason the findings from the academic study provide the structural framework and the majority of content for this report.

This report considers the views of a group of inspiring teachers on what it means to have this label – what is an inspiring teacher? The next section, provides some examples of the features of inspiring practice drawn from a series of qualitative observations conducted in classes taught by the inspiring teachers that took part in the research. Features of inspiring practice investigates the pupils’ perspectives and views about their teachers, based upon both qualitative observations and questionnaires. Finally the report considers whether inspiring teachers are also effective teachers, using two systematic observation schedules. The results clearly confirm that the sample of inspiring teachers studied here do indeed show very strongly the features of effective practice identified in the literature and captured by both the quantitative instruments. The results take us further forward by triangulating different sources of evidence to show also what helps to distinguish the notion of ‘inspiring teaching’.