Conference Style Teaching

A ‘work in progress’ post from Social sciences teacher Yasmin Chowdhury on starting her own #5MinResearch project:

It was Sunday the 23rd of Feb – last day of half term break, I sat there thinking, what am I supposed to teach my year 13s tomorrow?

They are a high ability group, and I feel guilty at times that the lesson is dictated and lead mostly by me.

What can I do to facilitate a lesson rather than control it? How can I get them to discuss and debate Psychology content in depth, and also minimise my planning time? On average, planning a A level Psychology lesson complete with resources etc takes me up to 2.5 hours plus!

Then suddenly it hit me!

Why don’t I print off resources and handouts from other sources and use this as a guide to direct the lesson and meet the lesson objectives. Year 13 being a small group, I can even move the furniture round and create a small boardroom environment (I’m really a secret Alan Sugar fan…), and have sheets ready on desk and facilitate the lesson through various levels of questioning. A bit like a conference. I present…  Conference Style Teaching!

This is a massive contrast to my usual ‘death by Powerpoint’ lesson. The content is explained by me, questions are asked, but for the students, the focus seems to be more on ‘I need to get the notes down before Miss moves on’. Today’s lesson using the ‘Conference Style Teaching’ was probably one of the most productive and vocal lessons we have ever had. It was student-led and progressed at a great pace.

We read together as a group, exchanged our thoughts, connected it to previous learning demonstrated synoptic skills and even got into a full-blown debate about whether any psychology experiment can be generalised to anyone at all.

As the student feedback was so positive at the end of the lesson (they noted their thoughts on Post Its), I decided to tweet about my mini success:

Our TL Leader suggested the 5 Minute Research Plan, and I instantly felt the need to look into it. The more I read about it, and the potential positive impact it can have on my teaching practice, the more I wanted to research Conference Style Teaching and its impact… hence the start of this micro-blog. 

I am currently looking for research papers, teaching practice, thoughts etc, from anyone and everyone regarding Conference Style Teaching so feel free to offer some ideas!


About Stacey Partridge

Assistant Principal responsible for Teaching & Learning and CPD, Stem, Transition & primary liaison. Applied Learning Quality Nominee, CEIAG, Prince's Trust and SMSC. Wellacre Academy Flixton, Greater Manchester
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9 Responses to Conference Style Teaching

  1. mrbenney says:

    Looks very, very promising Yasmin. As a T&L strategy for a Year 13 class it sounds ideal. Pupils clearly value the style and want it to continue. Good luck with the rest of the project. It will be interesting to compare test scores for the content covered by this style compared to test scores using your previous style. I look forward to reading more.

    • yasmin chowdhury says:

      Thank you Damien. I will be devising questionnaires for pupils to measure the impact, and collect their thoughts on my previous style of teaching. Having looked at the #5minresearchplan , I know it would be ideal to have a control group (which would be my year 12’s) but I cant help but feel guilty that I might be depriving them of this strategy. Will keep you posted. Thanks again for your comment 🙂


  2. yasmin chowdhury says:

    *Damian – sorry typo

    • yasmin chowdhury says:


      Great idea. Yes it is very similar to what you mentioned. I certainly agree with the fact that it is suitable for 6th Formers too, but would love to try with other groups. I am hoping that the students will be able to take turns to full lead the lessons.

  3. feeny87 says:

    This sounds very promising indeed. You know I might try this with my Year 13s as I only today had one of these death by PowerPoint lessons you mentioned. Think I will wait until after their exams over and perhaps experiment with this conference style method. However I feel with ICT it is more face based so leaves little room for discussion. I may ask you for more details when the time comes and will let you know how it went!

    • yasmin chowdhury says:

      Hey Feeny

      Thank you very much for your comments! My year 13’s said this method helps them with their revision as they feel that they are able to discuss it and it not very time consuming as notes are already done. It is just a case of completing any hand outs of there are any or just annotating the reading. Try it as a revision session and ask them for feedback. Good luck!

  4. Pingback: This week’s ‘Bright Spots’ | Making Our Best Better

  5. Pingback: Conference Style Teaching: an update | Making Our Best Better

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