Some Ideas about Teaching



Staying Sharp - How Much am I to Blame?


Please remember that – when the children are hard work – the only answer is to work harder with them.

Remember that, when the volume of disruption is as high as it is at the moment, children go to a large number of lessons where they simply sit and do routine, uninviting tasks to ‘keep the occupied’ anyway.

But also, when faced with difficult classes, the temptation for teachers is to retreat to unchallenging, routine, content-focused lessons where they place materials in front of the pupils, talk assertively to those materials, and then (often with a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ attitude) set the pupils a routine associated task, issue a threat for non-compliance, and then punish any child careless enough to put his head over the parapet.

If your teaching has not drifted towards this in the last few weeks then what I am saying does not apply to you and I apologise. If it does, however, describe your teaching (especially with the naughty and/or less able classes), then please may I ask the following:


Consider the following questions.
If your answer is 'Yes' (or even 'sometimes') to more than eight of them, then perhaps you are very lucky if some of your classes are not 'turning off' at the moment...

In the last fortnight:

1.   Have you missed more than 5 lessons from the classroom?

2.   Are you expecting the pupils to remain enthusiastic when the fare you are offering is routine and unadventurous?

3.   Do you usually arrive at the lesson after the pupils?

4.   Are you forgetting to start the lessons by making the pupils feel welcome/ liked?

5.   Are you neglecting to start the teaching by explaining the lesson objectives (as opposed to content), and making sure the pupils can see them throughout the lesson?

6.   Are you forgetting to start the teaching with a ‘starter’ to enthuse the pupils and direct their attention to the lesson content?

7.   Is the ‘main course’ of your lessons merely designed to OCCUPY the pupils, rather than to advance their learning/allow them to achieve the lesson objectives?

8.   Are your methods of learning unvaried and failing to hold interest – e.g. are you forgetting to include an auditory, visual and kinaesthetic learning experience in each lesson?

9.   Are you losing enthusiasm and drive – are the pitch, pace and challenge of your lessons inappropriate?

10. Are you neglecting to differentiate your work-tasks to suit the different levels of ability and different aptitudes of the pupils in the class?

11. Are you forgetting to identify each lesson who the SEN, MAT and medical needs pupils in your classes are, and to adapt your lesson-plan to suit their weaknesses and strengths.

12. Are you forgetting to use the school assertive discipline policy system (could you say what the latest version of it requires of the teacher)?

13. Are you failing to finish every lesson with a diagnostic plenary, and then using this information to determine the content and methods of the next lesson?

14. Are you failing to mark pupils’ work promptly, according to the department’s AfL strategy?

15. When the pupils leave, are you failing to control their departure into the corridors – are you just telling them to go and letting them stream out in a wild manner?

I know that - when I have let by teaching slip by these standards - the pupils are doing me a favour by behaving as well as they continue to do.
I cannot expect them to remain motivated and keen if I am not keeping my part of the bargain.

Posted on: Jun 22 2006, 07:26 PM





To cite this page, use:   CLARE, JOHN D. (2006), 'Staying Sharp - How Much Am I to Blame?',  at Greenfield History Site (