Learning Principles: A Thinking Toolkit for Teachers (Module 1)

Full programme HERE


Thinking Toolkit for Teachers is a professional learning programme delivered in collaboration between Ecolint and the School of Education at Oxford Brookes University. 

The programme is described as a ‘thinking toolkit’ because it is intended to equip teachers with concepts and ways of thinking that can be applied practically in diverse aspects of their professional lives. Specifically, these tools will help to shape research-informed practice around the following five essential statements:

My teacher…

  • Knows me (Culture, Structure, and Diversity)
  • Checks what I already know and can do (Learning, Knowledge, and Understanding)
  • Teaches in lots of different ways (Mind, Memory, and Meaning)
  • Pauses to see if I understand (Fear, Failure, and Flourishing) 
  • Gives me choices (Confidence, Courage, and Criticality)

The first module of the programme deals with the first two statements. The thinking toolkit offered by this programme will help teachers to feel more confident, critical, informed, and fulfilled by developing research literacy. Ultimately, the programme aims to dissolve the traditional distinction between educational theory and classroom practice, instead championing the value of seeing practice and theory as inextricably linked parts of what it means to be an educator.

The toolkit comprises the following tools:

Critical questioning of practice informed by educational theory

Cultural awareness: The capacity to understand and respond to cultural complexity

Understanding the Mind: an emerging understanding of how cognitive processes work, and alternative framings of the relationship between mind, memory, and meaning in education

Research Literacy: The ability to engage with educational research in an informed and confident way, adopting your own critical stance towards evidence

A Sociological outlook on your practice that takes into account the broader economic and political landscape of international schooling, particularly in relation to the future aspirations and anxieties of our students. 

Productive Dissent: The capacity to engage critically with theory, research, and practice in a way that allows you to step back, think afresh about your personal and professional intentions, and to actively and productively shape positive change in your setting.  

Programme Structure - Module 1 (see details HERE):

The programme will take place at a moderate pace over one academic year, beginning in November 2022, and will be organised across four sessions exploring two key statements:

  • My Teacher Knows me (Culture, Structure, and Diversity)
  • My Teacher Checks what I already know and can do (Learning, Knowledge, and Understanding)

Each theme will be covered over two 90 minute sessions, giving time for reading, reflection, and discussion between sessions. The sessions will take place synchronously online, with asynchronous discussion between sessions via a dedicated online Moodle platform hosted by Oxford Brookes University. All readings will be structured and guided by the programme lead, and readings will be made directly accessible to participants. The programme will progress at a moderate pace in order to give participants the time to engage thoughtfully with the themes, and with each other.

The sessions will take place online via Zoom on Monday afternoons from 16.00 - 17.30. The timeline for the programme is as follows:

  • Session 1 : Inception workshop - 7th Nov 2022
  • Session 2 : Tutorial -  21st Nov 2022

2. My Teacher Checks what I already know and can do
(Learning, Knowledge, and Understanding)

● Session 3: Workshop 6 March 4.30-6PM
● Session 4: Tutorial  27 March 4.30-6PM

These two sessions will explore the linked themes of Learning, Knowledge, and Understanding.

By asking the question ‘What are we teaching?’, we will begin a discussion of the foundations of what education and schooling entail.

Should the substance of teaching focus on subject or disciplinary knowledge? Should we be teaching values, ethics, and dispositions, and if so, then how?

What is the process by which this learning takes place? Are schools the best context for generating understanding?

Starting with these ‘big’ questions will set the tone for the programme. It is important to emphasise that we expect neither clear answers or consensus - rather, the aim is to establish informed, critical questioning as an essential part of teaching and learning. This is the first ‘tool’ in the Thinking Teachers Toolkit. 


Ultimately, the programme aims to give teachers the time to engage intellectually in a community of practice focused on exploring the core principles underpinning teaching and learning. This is part of an institutional shift towards cultures of thinking, through which teachers will be encouraged and empowered to engage in intellectual work of interrogating their practice to seek the best outcomes for staff and students alike. At the end of the programme, participants will complete a reflective piece of writing in which they outline a plan for research engagement beyond the life of the programme, such as a reading group, adopting a critical or philosophical approach to a specific practice, engaging students in discussions of programme themes, or carrying out discrete research projects of their own - or simply strengthening the intellectual life of the organisation through talking, reading, writing, and discussion about education.

Module 2:

This will take place in 2023/ 24. More information to follow.


Programme Lead:

The programme will be led by Dr. Patrick Alexander, Reader in Education and Anthropology at Oxford Brookes University and Director of the Centre for Educational Consultancy and Development. Guest speakers will deliver specific sessions. Often these guest speakers will be the authors of the readings offered to teachers, giving them direct access to academic leaders in the field of educational research. 


For Ecolint staff: instructions on how to register for this free course for Ecolint staff can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kquHZJiX1HbnfO2moo8YJKz-TdzE0g3kQ_EroP1pPtU/edit?usp=sharing

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