COVID-19: “Whilst we are geographically distant, we have been able to remain intellectually close through Thinking Moves”

Diane Swift is Executive SCITT Director of Keele and North Staffordshire Teacher Education

Beginning teachers across the country are feeling bereft of the opportunity to develop their scholarship of teaching through being in school.

Providers have rapidly responded to the national effort in relation to Covid-19 by developing programmes that enable trainees to be as well prepared, but the 2019-20 cohort have experienced an ITE programme like no other.

We simply cannot pretend to replicate school-based elements of the programme online, but we can offer high-quality professional learning and development. At Keele and North Staffordshire Teacher Education, part of Shaw Education Trust, we appreciated that it is eminently unhelpful to think of any trainee as being ‘behind’; such a perspective prioritises a lack over a difference. In difference there are opportunities, in a deficit model there is a burden.

We would rather carry an opportunity. So with our trainees we wanted to openly acknowledge that their experience is exceptional and, in doing so, be conscious and explicit about the opportunities which we have sought for them.

As part of this we have considered how best to embrace a metacognitive framework called Thinking Moves, developed by Roger Sutcliffe and the team at Dialogue Works, (

Thinking Moves offers a toolkit, which is not a set of tips and tricks but rather one that embraces the significance of vocabulary carrying meaning. It utilises the alphabet, so for each letter there is an associated Move; for example, Thinking AHEAD for A, Thinking BACK for B and so on. The clarity of the scheme is that each Move is associated with key partner verbs and synonyms. Additionally for each Move there are associated icons or ideograms.

This shared vocabulary has become an essential resource for us. Whilst we are geographical distant, we have been able to remain intellectual close. Our trainees have been asked to apply a Move to a subject area by planning a 5-10 minute activity, with their current placement class in mind. They then teach this via Zoom to a group of peers, who take on the role of the pupils.

Click below to read the full NASBTT article & learn more about Thinking Move on NASBTT site.

Member Voice: COVID-19: “Whilst we are geographically distant, we have been able to remain ‘intellectually close through Thinking Moves”