A common lesson format. A structure, not a straitjacket.

In my previous school we devised a common format for lessons through staff discussion. The aim was to support the process of embedding certain behaviour routines and expectations and, perhaps more crucially, some pedagogical practices.  This week a Headteacher told me they had borrowed the idea so I thought I would share it again.  This time I have updated it with reference to retrieval practice and made it generic for any school.

It’s not a straitjacket – you could teach in all kinds of ways within the structure. There is almost nothing you couldn’t do.  But a common format, agreed by staff,  does help to generate a common language and common routines across a department and school.  I recommend it.

Here’s the image:

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 11.33.17

Here’s the file if you want to download and edit it: Common lesson format

Here’s the text for reading online.

Lessons at Our School

In line with our framework for teaching and learning, this table outlines the features of lessons that should be common to all teachers in all subjects, except where there are special requirements for learning in that department.

Interacting with Student Data
Data-annotated planning sheet. All teachers should have an up-to-date data plan for every class they teach. This can be a seating plan or any helpful hard-copy format.

Data can be coded but should reference KS2 data or Starting Profile; SEN/EAL status, Reading Age, PP status, G&A status and latest attainment grade.

Routines for All Lessons
Starting Lessons:

Entry Routines

·       Teacher welcomes class at the door; they go straight in without talking, sit down and get their books and equipment out ready to learn, engaging with any written instructions provided.

·       Teacher uses signal for attention and addresses class with full attention, setting expectations for introductory activities.

·       Once students are working, register is taken. Registers should be taken close to the very beginning with a full roll-call where this defaults as am/pm register.

·       If students arrive before the teacher, they wait lining up quietly against the wall.

Behaviour for Learning Behaviour consequences must be logged visually on the board and the reasons publicly narrated to reinforce expectations for all students.

Consequences should be issued systematically right from the start. No disruption should be tolerated; On Call contacted as required.

Showing Excellence and Positive Affirmation At least five minutes in every lesson should be devoted to showcasing examples of excellent work or attitudes to learning, highlighting the reasons.

Achievement points should be issued publicly at this time.

Ending Lessons:

Exit Routines

Students stand behind their chairs with all equipment packed away.

Teacher dismisses them from the door, table by table, calmly into the corridor on the pips.

Common Pedagogical Elements.
Specifying knowledge elements and Retrieval Practice It is essential that teachers make very explicit all aspects of the content explored in the lesson that are required knowledge. Use of knowledge organizers will help this.

Regular micro-testing and other forms of retrieval practice should be routine.

Modeling and Practice Where new ideas or new skills are being introduced, teachers should always model the work expected from students.   This could be through multiple worked examples, student exemplars or demonstrations.

Students must have time to practise skills repeatedly.

Structured, targeted questioning. Questioning should include all students with answers selected by the teacher in a deliberate, planned manner.   Questioning should be probing and targeted to specific students where appropriate. Students should not have the option to opt out or to dominate.
Responding to Feedback Feedback will take many forms – verbal comments, written comments, peer and self assessment. There should be evidence that feedback leads to students’ work improving in response.

Agreed departmental workflow procedures should be followed.

Students and teachers should all be clear about where and when feedback will be given and which work should be redrafted, improved or corrected.


Features of Good Speech Students should be required to adhere to the guidance on good speech. This applies to general discussion as well as set-piece structured speech events.
Homework Homework should be set each week. All homework must be recorded on the online platform, ideally during the lesson and definitely the same day.


    • It’s amazing how many expectations we have to be explicit about. A lot of good teachers do these things routinely anyway. It works as a framework for discussion and CPD for others; it’s not a rigid checklist.


      • Agree 100% with the socials guy below. As a menu of fundamental elements I think this is a great crib sheet and I have printed it for my wall behind my desk.

        As long as it isn’t seen as prescriptive although for novices it could also be used that way, I think it is great. As also discussed in comments here, there are a number of these and a mix and match approach works well for me.

        Thanks for this, I have found it really useful.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I get the title of this and that it’s not meant to rigidly restrict the work of teachers. From my experience in my current school, this does seem a little too prescriptive. The expectations for work within our departments are consistent, but classroom procredures are by and large up to the teacher (with some minor exceptions).

    I struggle somewhat with the balance of these kinds of structures, as no structure can be chaotic, while too much can be stifling.

    Liked by 1 person

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