Teachers are expected to demonstrate that their pupils are learning. This can be a challenge at the best of times and we need to exercise professional judgement when deciding if this is happening. We also need to pay heed to the strongest sources of classroom research, such as the meta analysis by Professor Geoff Hattie http://www.learningandteaching.info/teaching/what_works.htm , which concludes that the way a teacher interacts with an individual pupil is by far and away the most potent ingredient in learning. Enabling this type of activity in a classroom is a challenge for planning and for classroom management. If this type of informed , instructive and affirming feedback happens in a lesson, then we can be confident that learning will occur. The ‘harvest’ of such interventions may need to be pursued through subsequent individual questioning.
A more radical set of ideas about learning are linked to the concept of ‘flipping’ whereby the pupils learn independently from tailored web based programmes and computer games and the teacher diagnoses, facilitates and coaches. http://21k12blog.net/2011/02/13/the-flipped-classroom-advances-developments-in-reverse-learning-and-instruction/
A little flipping certainly supports the feedback activities described above and has the potential to relieve the teacher of the punishing ‘all singing and dancing’ pedagogy, which is often implied by the perceived need to strive to be ‘outstanding’. Few teachers, in my experience, are capable of being consistently ‘outstanding’ in this way and expecting such ‘performance teaching’ for 5 lessons a day surely encourages burn out or career change.