In an earlier post on ‘Great Learning’ I wrote about the qualities that separate the very best teachers from the rest, Passion/growth mindset, Self reflection and a commitment to Deliberate practice were my top 3….

I have been reading Hywel Roberts book “Oops!: Helping children learn accidentally” this week and he sums it up perfectly, great teachers exude ‘botheredness’ from every pore..they smile, laugh, encourage and praise. If I was asked who my favourite teacher was at school it would be Mr Race, my History teacher, he taught me from year 7 to 13 and did all of the above. He gave me a love and passion for the subject that has never left me. Mr Race rang my mum when I was in the sixth form, as he sensed a change in my attitude towards my learning and expressed his concerns to her. I certainly didn’t thank him for it at the time but I know why he did it….because he was bothered..Think about your best teacher from school?why did you like them?I expect that they too exuded ‘botheredness’.

So if these qualities are the mark of a great teacher, then how does this translate into great classroom learning?

I see the concept of deliberate practice as essential to fostering ‘Great Learning’, a personal commitment to developing yourself professionally, as Hywel puts it “As professionals we need to keep learning in the same way a shark needs to keep moving, otherwise it’ll die”

Lemov advocates the 80/20 rule, to become great you should concentrate on practicing the 20% of things that create most value, practice the highest priority things more than everything else combined. I have given much thought to what the ‘highest priority things’ are and what we should we be practicing?

I have written in an earlier post, ‘What Mr Ofsted taught me..’ about outstanding Teaching and Learning and what I learned from an inspector about the key features of great learning. Essentially the kids are actively engaged, they excellent make progress and students are in a deep state of learning.

My staff development group have come up with a ‘big 5’, key foci we would like staff to choose from, to consider for deliberate classroom practice; they are not new but those things we should all consider as the ‘bread and butter’ of our core business, great teaching and learning. The things that have the biggest impact on our students, the vital aspects of our pedagogy, Feedback, Independence, Questioning, Challenge and Creativity.

Deep Learning SRS

I have borrowed from Alex Quigley @huntingenglish in his post ‘Becoming a better teacher: teachers doing it for themselves’ a method for carrying out ‘Deliberate practice’. He uses the analogy of a golf pro to explain, “if you think about a top golfer, they practice specific shots, with a coach giving immediate feedback, typically including a series of corrective tweaks. The feedback is king. The reflection and tweaks are essential. In many ways, we need to revert to our state as an NQT – constantly reflecting upon our practice with the alert mindset of the novice. Perhaps we cannot source a top golf coach, but we can find a ‘critical friend’ in a colleague; we can blog and find an audience there; we can work with our subject leaders, a teacher coach etc. To improve we must undertake what can be a frustrating process with grit and resilience. Here is a simple step by step guide to the ‘deliberate practice‘ method:”


I was fortunate to come across an archive of Dylan Wiliam’s presentations via Twitter recently and Dylan offers much in the way of research to show us that teachers do not get better just by experience alone and that there is a need for teachers to make a commitment to continuous improvement of their practice.


dyl 2

Questions to consider:
Which of the ‘big 5’ do you need to focus on?
Which class(es) will you practice on?
How many times do you need to practice?(the research says 30 times for something to become a habit!)
What strategies will you use?
How will you research?
Critical friend?
What method are you going to use to record/ reflect on your progress?

Below is an archive of Blog posts I have put together to support my colleagues in ‘doing the research’ re:the ‘big 5’. Happy practicing!! 

Work scrutiny- Whats the point of marking books? David Didau
Making feedback stick David Didau
Improving written feedback Alex Quigley
Marginal learning gains feedback Zoe Elder
Creating a culture for critique. Improving student feedback and acting upon it David Fawcett
Make your marking policy a feedback policy Alex Quigley
Marking in perspective: Selective, effective, formative and reflective Tom Sherrington
Making feedback count “close the gap” Tom Sherrington

Closing the Gap – Personalising Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time (DIRT) to Improve Exam Performance David West

Meols cop high school

Developing mastery through critique Pete Jones

Questioning and oral feedback ‘our bread and butter’ Alex Quigley
Inclusive questioning Alex Quigley
Teacher Talk- The missing link David Didau
How effective learning hinges on good questioning David Didau
Question time and asking why Alex Quigley
Questioning Top Ten strategies Alex Quigley
Example ‘hinge questions’ for History and Maths Harry Fletcher Wood
Marginal Learning gains Questioning Zoe Elder

Deliberately difficult- focussing on learning rather than progress David Didau
Whats deep learning and how do you do it? David Didau
Gifted and Talented Provision- A total philosophy Tom Sherrington
Great Lessons 2: Rigour Tom Sherrington
Great Lessons 3: Challenge Tom Sherrington

Creative teaching for the not very creative Tom Boulter
Oops!:Helping children to learn accidentally Hywel Roberts

Independence vs independent learning David Didau
Great teaching happens in cycles David Didau
Stage 1: Explaining David Didau
Stage 2: Model David Didau
Stage 3: Scaffold David Didau
Stage 4: Practice David Didau
20 ways to promote independence
Developing Independent learners-The 7 monkeys Shaun Allison
Independence strategies/ links/ ideas Amjad Ali

Explanations Top Ten Teaching Tips Alex Quigley
Great Lessons 6 : Explaining Tom Sherrington

‘Great’ Learning
Tom Sherrington’s ‘Great Lessons’ series
New Ofsted framework- How to be outstanding? Ross McGill
Sec Ed guidance on What makes an outstanding lesson
Icebergs, taking risks and being outstanding David Didau
Towards Outstanding Learning CPD SRS Dec 2012Rachael Edgar
What Mr Ofsted taught me….Rachael Edgar
Great Learning: What separates the best from the rest? Rachael Edgar
Outstanding Teaching and great teachers Chris Hildrew
The journey to outstanding part 1 @lgolton
The journey to outstanding part 2 @LGolton
What we can learn from Dylan Wiliam and AFL? Joe Kirby
What makes Great teaching? Joe Kirby

TLT 2013 resources

Best Teacher T&L Toolkits
Calderstones School Teaching and Learning
Cheney Agility Toolkit @ASTsupportAALI

Rachael Edgar