10 things that effective teachers do- Do you?

Sometimes it is just worth reflecting on our personal skills and looking at where our strengths and weaknesses are. After many years of teaching some skills will have been more developed, whilst others that are used less widely may need more work on.

For me I start with this list that I picked up somewhere from the internet when I started in Management many moons ago. NB. Way down the list is questioning, if you need more help with this see the last blog. For me this list was a starting point not only for me, but for the team or teams I was leading. Not only did I as a manager needs these skills, but also the team needed the same strengths, and being able to review and see our weaknesses objectively made it easier. For example,  when observing lessons  it gave us all a focus that we were all comfortable with. We all recognised we were good teachers but wanted to do better, so were honing skills. This meant the threat and fear went away, this was crucial in schools needing support as too often one criticism or constructive comment can lead to low self-esteem and the fear of being a  failing teacher rather than building more strengths.

10 things that effective teachers do.

Deep Knowledge of Subject Matter
Effective teachers have a passion for their subject. They work hard to keep their knowledge current and sharp.

Instructional Planning
Good teachers do not “wing it.” They prepare lessons carefully and thoroughly to ensure all students meet their targets.

Knowledge of Assessment and Evaluation
Effective teachers plan the ways in which they will judge students’ progress and they do so throughout the lesson, adjusting their teaching in the light of what they learn from the assessments.

Understanding Students and How They Learn
Effective teachers believe that every child can learn. They work hard to identify ways of overcoming any barriers to learning so that all students are successful.

Motivating Students to Learn
Effective teachers create learning opportunities through hands-on work, small group activities, peer-to-peer coaching, and individually guided instruction. Good teachers make learning engaging by making lessons interesting and relevant.

Creating Safe, Productive and Well-Managed Classrooms
Effective teachers understand that firm discipline policies contribute to a healthy academic atmosphere by emphasizing the importance of regular attendance, promptness, respect for teachers and other students, and good conduct. Good teachers understand that students respond to consistency, fairness, and structure.

Technological Literacy
Good teachers understand that technology is a tool for increasing student interest, motivation, and achievement.

Understanding and Appreciating Diversity
Effective teachers clearly communicate their expectation that all children can and will achieve to the best of their ability. Good teachers demonstrate zero tolerance for discrimination, bigotry, bullying, or harassment. They promote tolerance, curiosity, and respect for other genders, races, and cultures.

Working with the whole child
Effective teachers make efforts to know their students individually and to build openness and bridges between homes and classrooms. Good teachers create multiple channels for communications with parents and the community members. They try to see the “whole child” and provide extra help, referrals, and assistance for children facing challenges out-of-school.

Commitment to Lifelong Learning and Professional Development
Effective teachers are always growing and learning. They share successes and challenges with other teachers and see themselves not as an “expert” but part of a community of lifelong learners.

Encouraging student talk

Effective teachers plan opportunities for students to embed their learning through talk, to one another and to the teacher. In their classrooms, students talk more than the teacher!

Effective questions

Effective teacher organise their lessons so that students, rather than the teacher, generate questions that help to clarify and extend learning


Student Participation

Encouraging the best from our young people in classroom situations can be daunting for new teachers, but the example below shows the benefit of well planned whole class teaching on full participation of the students.

In years gone by the stereotype for the classroom are groups of children with their hands up. This was usually the result of the teacher making a  statement e.g. We have been looking at structures and then asking for a response i.e. Put up your hands if you can think of any shell structures.

Despite the stereotypical media classrooms view that everyone ahs their hand up in reality;

  • Only a few will volunteer the information by putting their hands up
  • The teacher usually thanks or praises them
  • To check the rest of the class another few people will be asked and praised re. their contribution
  • This leaves a whole band of students who have said nothing and may know the answer but have not received praise.

Now we will look at a different way of answering the same question but achieving a result that means every students has had a voice. As currently snow and ice is the topic of weather conversation due to the Winter Olympics I suggest we call this idea snowballing.

The question is asked again but this time instead of hands up do the following;

  • Ask each class member to use a whiteboard or post it note to write down one idea
  • In pairs students share their ideas and come up with a  third idea ( 2 minutes is maximum time needed)
  • Join with another pair (creating  group of four) or collaborate as a table, exchange the examples and then think of a few more
  • Finally ask each group to feedback – or alternatively ask each member of the class to report back one idea from their group

This should make each child feel that they have participated and been heard and most if not all should receive praise.

There are many influences to the approach any teacher will use depending on a variety of circumstances and the topic, curriculum concept that has to be taught. Here are some examples;

  1. The motivation and behaviour of the students
  2. The complexity of the knowledge needed to be learnt
  3. The ethos developed by the teacher for that classroom i.e. is it more inquiry and thinking led or passive hands up?
  4. Cultural differences
  5. Class size
  6. Academic  and general language skills



Leaders 2 -Strategic Planning and Development

As a leader you will need to ensure all of your teachers and learners receive the same curriculum to the same level using individuals skills, prior experiences and individual personality. Written like this it looks a large task but in reality it is made easier if you think about and follow your response to these questions.

  • How will you develop subject policies then ensure all teachers” commitment to them?
  • How will you ensure the above particularly in relation to high achievement and teaching and learning?
  • How will you maintain a positive attitude towards your subject?
  • What data will you need to collect? How often will it need to be collected? How should it be sued to inform policies, planning, targets and teaching methods.
  • How will you establish short, medium and long-term subject development plans? How will you ensure that:-they contribute to the whole schools aims, that they are based on pupil performance data, identify targets for improvement within your subject and then most importantly ensure that they are understood by everyone involved, parents included.
  • How will you monitor progress made in achieving your subjects development plan and targets?

English Dept Assessment Schedule

Assessment Schedule

Often I am asked what to do about assessments. I usually suggest that the person in charge of English works out a schedule then ensure that all teachers and learners are aware of their appropriate assessment schedule.  It is a good idea to work out when parent meetings and feedback are needed and then work back from there, giving you and your team time to fulfil your duty. Assessment that is timely and well written is supportive and helps the child reach their potential.

Students new to the school need to take progress test to find out where they are.  If you are assessing EAL students, initially use their first language where you can to gauge their current knowledge. As a teacher every week the pupils work should be marked inline with the schools marking policy. To ensure that marking feedback is effective in developing future learning and knowledge make sure that feedback is better than a tick and a bland comment saying good. Really let the learner know something that they are good at and something that they need to work on next time.  All done in a  positive learning environment will mean that the learners just work towards the next goal as opposed to feeling they are rubbish and cannot succeed. It’s up to you as the teacher to create that environment in your classroom.

This is just a suggestion which you can use and change to suit your circumstances.

Year 7
End   Oct Assessment Reading :   Language structure and variation Writing   : Spelling 
Nov All   about Me booklet
March Assessment   Key Objectives
June Assessment   NC Test
Year 8
Nov AssessmentReading :   understanding Text Writing   : Standard English and language structure
March Assessment   Key Objectives
June l   Assessment NC Test
Year 9
Nov Assessment   Key Objectives
March Mock   SATs all papers
May   3 – 6th SATS   exam
June Assessment   test
Year 10
Nov Lit   – compare poems of other Cultures.Lang   – Argue to write/persuade
March Lit   – Of Mice and Men and poems of other culturesLang   – to inform, explain advise, and argue/persuade
June Exam   preparation : Lit and Lang papers
Year 11
Nov Preparation   : Lit and Lang papers
March  Mock  Lit and Lang papers

Lessons to be learnt – How much trust should we give EAL TAs?

Lessons to be learnt How much trust do we give EAL TAs?

After observing some planning and teacher training in London last week the following occurred to me not as way of criticism but more as reflective practice and moving learning in the classroom along.

Clearly we should not give any teacher or TA (Teaching Assistant) 100% trust until we have assured ourselves that they are giving 100% correct instruction. As no teacher is a super teacher i.e.  never needing support, mentoring or guidance then why should we give EAL TAs (English as a second language Teaching Assistants) this trust and change policies to suit them?
Don’t  get me wrong I think TA’s and EAL TA’s in particular are great but we should not implicitly trust them to guide our youngsters in the ETHOS of the school, the teaching of academic concepts and language and assessment without having an overview of their abilities and skills ourselves as senior managers and governors.
I watched a situation recently where a group of excellent teachers were planning and talking about the use of technology available to support maths teaching. They were thinking really creatively about how they could teach in their classrooms (and not looking at a withdrawal group) a mathematical concept that the rest of the year were  learning. For me it was brilliant they were marrying their skills with technology to save time for them when planning and delivering, but increasing the children’s learning ability whilst making it interesting.

All went well until the TA that supports them became part of the discussion and within no time suddenly the TA had convinced them the group needed to be withdrawn and that it could take time for the children to learn it. What struck me most as an observer was that I had been in that situation many times but could see now that the TA  was steering our teaching. Today seeing it this way made me wonder what made these excellent practitioners take another persons word and run with it?

Why didn’t they question or try out their theory and review it if it didn’t work? They had built a translation requirement in, their practice was excellent, their topic was interesting, their own personal understanding of the concept was excellent and yet they let someone without the same or better credentials influence them and their decisions.

Something worth pondering on.


Brilliant piece discussing ensuring that when planning you give time for the children to grow and use their enquiring minds to find more information.