Episode 14 Deliberate Teaching, become so good they can’t ignore you

In this episode, Dan discusses the book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport and applies some of its main points to teaching. He examines what deliberate practice is and how it could be the key to revolutionise your approach to teaching and learning. He terms this Deliberate Teaching.

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Deliberate Teaching, become so good they can’t ignore you by Daniel Jackson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

So Good they can’t ignore you

At the heart of the book is the message that to follow your passion is bad advice instead you should develop yourself as a craftsman. Become so good at your work that it becomes your passion.

Become a craftsman

  • Master rare and valuable skills to develop career capital. To do this you need to use deliberate practice.
  • Erikson stated that expert performance is not based on talent but on practice. Cal further identifies that it is not JUST hours of practice, but hours of deliberate practice

Deliberate Practice

Stretch yourself just beyond where you are comfortable with the goal to improve your skills or knowledge in this area. This applies to everything from Math to Creative arts. 

Deliberate practice requires

  • Knowledge of the “chunks” or criteria for improved performance
  • Practice that stretches you in one of those chunks identified to improve but that is not so far it seems unattainable
  • Feedback in relation to whether you are getting closer to this goal 

Key to this is the deliberate practice of a skill at a higher level in order to master the skill.


I think it applies to our teaching and student learning

  1. Students need to be able to practice skills in relation to goals and criteria and receive feedback frequently in relation to these to really master a skill
  2. As a teacher, shouldn’t we be applying such insights into our teaching practice

In order for us to improve as teachers, we need to know what expert teaching looks like, understand the criteria we can use to describe and explain it. We should then be developing at least one of these all the time, by extending ourselves in this area and getting feedback with relation to the goals.

Deliberate Teaching

  • Chose a specific area of expert teaching and identify ways to improve this. Eg
    • If you struggle to use Tech in your classroom, find an expert in this area and get some advice on what you can do to begin to stretch yourself. 
  • Stretch yourself in this area, which does not just mean put it in practice. First, you need to learn about it. Maybe do a course, like the online courses at TeachersPD.net or read a book in this area. Then try it… but not on your own
  • It’s time to open our doors!!
  • Get feedback from people you know are good in the area you are looking to improve
  • If you need to record your lesson and share it with others for feedback. I am actually looking to set this system up in TeachersPD over the coming weeks where teachers will record and share and provide each other with feedback that is specific to the area we are looking to improve.
  • The more feedback you can get the better. And keep repeating the process until you have improved this area and then move to another criterion and Repeat!!

Lifelong learning

  • This will model lifelong learning for the students
  • You will begin to provide better teaching because you are constantly looking to improve your practice and this will naturally help students to learn the skills required for lifelong learning and possibly the motivation
  • You can apply deliberate practice to your student’s learning as well, helping them to master what they are doing, because as Cal Newport identifies throughout this book, it is through mastering a skill or an area of knowledge, becoming an expert… that is what creates passion and leads to satisfaction in life.

Give it a go!

  • Find an expert
  • Learn about the area you want to improve
  • Try it and get feedback and repeat until you master it
  • Then share what you learn with others. Help others in the areas where you are strong!
  • Maybe, join the TeachersPD community and we can do this together.

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