It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a teacher in possession of an internet connection, must be in want of an annual review for each of the education blogs to which they’re subscribed.

As is traditional, the descent into the dark days of December demands that education bloggers will be preparing their annual statements. Here, not to be left out or out done, is mine.

2013 has been something of a watershed for the blog. It’s racked up almost 350,000 hits (over 200,000 of which have been this year) and has been ranked by Onalyptica as one of the most influential education blogs in the UK. This is obviously great and I’m like a dog with two tails most of the time. But it does mean that I’m in danger of becoming something of an institution. As far as I’m concerned I’m just a show off with a bog gob, but increasingly I’m perceived as “David Didau the esteemed and highly regarded teacher, blogger and author of The Perfect Ofsted English Lesson”. This is something I am reluctantly coming to terms with.

Anyway, the most popular post of this, my third year blogging, are as follows:

1. Why do so many teachers leave teaching? 22 February – 35,592 views

This post was a slow burn. Not many people read it when it was published but it gets over 100 hits every day. These are mainly through people entering search terms into google like “what can I do after teaching” or “planing to quit teaching”. The post itself has become completely over shadowed by the comments section – please take a read if you’ve got the stomach for it; it is not cheerful stuff.

2. Work scrutiny: what’s the point of marking books? 26 January – 19,764 views

I had written several posts on feedback and marking before this one, but none of them have had quite the same traction. This was, I think, the post where I first made the assertion that “marking is planning”. This has proved pretty catchy.

3. Anatomy of an outstanding lesson 22 January – 15,742 views

I felt pretty pleased with myself when I wrote this post having just delivered what I thought was a tour de force lesson. I’ve learned a hell of lot since then. Most notably @surrealyno tweeted me to say that there was no such thing as an outstanding lesson and sent me a link to a video of Robert Bjork explaining the difference between performance and learning. This has had a profound effect on my thinking.

4. Marking is an act of love 6 October – 15,726 views

This is the grown up version of the Work Scrutiny post. It covers a lot of the same ground but is coloured by my developing thoughts on what is meant by progress. It’s also got some very useful strategies for teachers to mark more efficiently.

5. Building challenge: differentiation that’s quick and works  19 January – 14,783 views

I’m not entirely sure that this one stands the test of time – it’s one of those posts that I keep meaning to go back to and rethink properly. My thoughts about what differentiation is and isn’t have shifted somewhat but there a still a number of useful ideas that I continue to use in lessons.
6. The shocking mediation of Ofsted criteria by ‘rogue’ inspectors 6 October – 13,398 views

According to Old Andrew, putting Ofsted in the title of a blog post guarantees its popularity. I guess this proves him right. This post has got a lot of attention and I’ve even heard that Ofsted’s Schools’s Director, Mike Cladingbowl read it and was shocked. This may or may not be true.

7. Where lesson observations go wrong 12 July – 11,626 views

This was something of a precursor to the ‘rogue’ inspector post and deals mainly with the lack of understanding of what learning is that is so widespread in schools. It has become my mission to root out this stuff so that no teacher has to suffer appallingly patronising lesson feedback from people who are paid to know better.

8. Go with the flow: the 2 minute lesson plan 17 November 2012 – 11, 354 views

It’s astonishing that this makes it into the Top 10 despite being written the previous year. It’s well out of date and even has a disclaimer at the top directing traffic to this updated planning post. The title itself was a joke based on the 7 minute abs gag from There’s Something About Mary.

9. Has lesson observation become the new Brain Gym? 16th November 6,848 views

More grist to the anti-lesson grading mill. See this post for its rational conclusion.

10. The art of beautifully crafted sentences 17th October 6,745 views

One of my favourites. And the only post in the Top 10 which explores my classroom practice. I was particularly pleased that Doug Lemov liked it and wrote this post in response and I’m chuffed that lots of people read it. Well done you guys.

What can I learn from this?

  1. There are a lot of very unhappy teachers out there.
  2. Posts on lesson observation and marking are very popular
  3. Nothing I wrote between 23 February and 11 July and then from 13 July to 6 October makes it on to the list. Is this down to seasonal variation or because my writing took a dip?

The posts that have had the most impact on me are these on the problems with progress:

Part 1 – Performance vs Learning
Part 2 – Designing a curriculum for learning
Part 3 – Designing lessons for learning

And these on the Teaching Sequence for developing independence:

Independence vs independent learning
Great teaching happens in cycles
Stage 1: Explain
Stage 2: Model
Stage 3: Scaffold
Stage 4: Practise

Anyway, it’s been a lot of fun. I thoroughly enjoy writing the blog and love getting (constructive) feedback. If you like what I write, would like to show your appreciation, but have been a loss for how to do it, you might like to pre-order my new book. Thank you for reading and hopefully you’ll be back for more next year.