What every teacher needs to know about… seating plans

2016-09-09T08:50:06+01:00September 9th, 2016|planning, psychology|

Remarkably, the rather excellent Teach Secondary magazine haven't yet seen through me and are still running my half-baked ramblings. Here's this month's pale offering. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a teacher in possession of a large roomful of children must be in want of a carefully crafted seating plan. Secondary schools have normalised the idea that children should sit in the same seat every lesson. Seating plans may be a great way to learn students’ names, keep order and establish routine, but they may be undermining children’s ability learn. Ideally, we want our students to go off into the [...]

Scripts: whose lesson is it anyway?

2018-10-02T08:35:24+01:00January 31st, 2016|learning, planning|

When I was 16, Whose Line Is It Anyway? first aired on UK television. The show, hosted by Clive Anderson, asked four comedians to ad lib responses to various prompts and scenarios, much of it shouted out by audience members. The whole thing was completely unscripted with the comedians having to make everything up on the spot. The results were anarchic; always daft and often hilarious. I'd never seen anything quite like it and I was in awe of the quickness of their brains and the way the could conjure a laugh out of almost anything. Here's a taste: As you can see, it's [...]

Using threshold concepts to think about curriculum design

2015-11-09T20:10:49+00:00November 8th, 2015|planning|

Thank you so much to everyone who helped out, presented, turned up on a wet Saturday or just joined in from afar on our creaky Livestream (I'm particularly devastated that Professor Ray Land's keynote will be lost to posterity!) I will, in due course, write something which pulls together the experience of organising Saturday's #researchED's first subject-specific conference, but for now, here are the slides you've all been clamouring for (actually no one has asked, but in case you were vaguely interested.) What if everything you knew about curriculum design was wrong? from David Didau You can also watch me try [...]

A model lesson? Part 1: routines vs gimmicks

2014-08-19T15:24:12+01:00September 8th, 2013|leadership, learning, planning, training|

It's been a busy week this week. What with starting at a new school, getting up before 5 to drive two hours on Monday morning, living an Alan Partridge-esque existence in a particularly horrific Travelodge, and risking whatever credibility I might have by teaching a 'model' lesson in front of colleagues I'd barely met to kids I'd never met. That this was in any way successful is largely down to the efforts of co-conspirator, Fiona Aris: due to a series of unlikely but banal events, we were unable to meet up (or even meet) beforehand and she (Kindly? Foolishly?) agreed to plan said [...]

Motivation: when the going gets tough, the tough get going

2014-02-06T17:47:22+00:00August 26th, 2013|learning, planning|

If ever you get embroiled in a discussion on Learning Styles you may well be confronted with the chestnut of motivation. Learning styles, it seems to me, are all about motivation and management, and nothing whatsoever to do with learning. There is of course a correlation between learning and motivation but often they get conflated. Much of what goes on in classrooms is predicated on the belief that if kids are sufficiently engaged in an activity, they will learn from it. But it doesn't take a genius to spot that we can really enjoy something without learning a whole lot from [...]

The problem with fun

2016-10-02T13:38:59+01:00August 22nd, 2013|learning, planning|

Getting students engaged so that they can be taught something seems much less effective than getting them engaged by teaching them something that engages them. Dylan Wiliam Could fun be the enemy of learning? I've not always been the curmudgeonly killjoy I am today. Some years ago, I took part in a department meeting where we were asked to prioritise those qualities we most valued about teaching. We came up with all the tiresomely worthy answers you might expect, but, somewhat controversially, I insisted on including 'fun'. The case I made went something like this: I don't teach for the money, I [...]

Fireworks teaching: why less might well be more

2014-08-22T19:17:36+01:00July 15th, 2013|Featured, planning|

Why should I let the toad work Squat on my life? Can’t I use my wit as a pitchfork And drive the brute off? Philip Larkin – Toads Many people (and many students) seem to expend considerable energy in attempting to use their wits to drive off the need to work. This provokes the ire of others (often teachers) who consider it character forming and good for them and I-had-to-do-it so-why-shouldn’t-you? The ability to work hard and get on with difficult and onerous tasks is a terribly important life skill and I expend a fair bit of my energy in convincing [...]

Planning Lessons – lessons I’ve learned from lessons I've taught

2013-06-09T17:07:42+01:00June 9th, 2013|Featured, planning|

This is a summary and a drawing together of several earlier posts. I consider it a refinement of my thinking and something which is painstakingly (and grandiosely) groping its way towards a total philosophy of planning. It does also attempt to offer something new but is this enough to deserve a new post? You decide. "Failing to plan is planning to fail." Smug teachers, everywhere Planning: still a good thing to do first As a new teacher, lesson planning seemed to suck up almost all of my available time and energy. Looking back over those frenetic early years it's become [...]

Redesigning a curriculum

2013-12-03T09:25:15+00:00March 25th, 2013|English, Featured, learning, planning|

Effective reform must start with the understanding that the curriculum is the central focus and the central business of schools. Effective curricula are the sina que non of the system that is capable of delivering a quality education to all kids. Siegfried Engelmann At the start of the year I foolishly asked what the good people of Twitter would like me to write about. The message came back, loud and clear, that you wanted to know my thoughts on the Key Stage 3 curriculum. Well, whadda you know? Through my usual process of bathing in ideas until good and clean, I [...]

The problem with progress Part 3: Designing lessons for learning

2014-05-25T18:20:25+01:00February 16th, 2013|Featured, learning, planning, SOLO|

Over my last couple of posts I've suggested that you can't see learning in lessons, you can only infer it from students' performance. This means that as a teacher, when you get students to respond to exit passes, signal with traffic lights and otherwise engage in formative assessment what you see are merely cued responses to stimuli. What I mean by that is that the tasks we set students to check whether they've learned what we've taught only tell us how they are performing at that particular time and in those particular circumstances; they offer no indication whether the feckless buggers [...]

The problem with progress Part 2: Designing a curriculum for learning

2021-11-19T09:27:05+00:00February 14th, 2013|Featured, leadership, learning, myths, planning|

Can progress be both rapid and sustained? We start out with the aim of making the important measurable and end up making only the measurable important. Dylan Wiliam Does slow and steady win the race? 'Rapid and sustained progress' is Ofsted's key indictor for success. Schools across the land chase this chimera like demented puppies chasing their own tails. But just when when you think you've gripped it firmly between your slavering jaws, the damn thing changes and slips away. You see, the more I look into it, the more I'm convinced that progress cannot be both rapid and sustained. You cannot [...]

Icebergs, taking risks & being outstanding

2024-01-19T10:53:07+00:00February 11th, 2013|Featured, learning, planning, training|

How do we recognise a great teacher, a great lesson or great teaching and learning? How do we know what we're seeing is outstanding? The sad truth is that often observers don't (or can't) see the wood for the trees. They see your planning, they see your interactions with a group of students and, hopefully, they see the evidence of impact in your students' books. But most of what goes into making your lessons finely crafted things of beauty are invisible. Observers only ever get to see the tip of the iceberg. If a writer of prose knows enough of [...]

Go to Top