Ideas for better teaching. @teacherhead blog collection.

I’ve written a few of these round-up posts as a way of collecting ideas together.  Hopefully this makes it easier to share.

The #1 problem/weakness in teaching and how to address it.  A popular post exploring the problem of enabling all students to learn all the material with some common weaknesses in teaching and how to address them.

A glossary of terms to help us discuss learning: This is not a comprehensive list – but it contains some terms that I’ve found people wrestle with where some clarity might be useful.

From “I’ve done it” to “I’ve learned it”. Terminate the tyranny of the task.: An important distinction. I find that getting this right can turn a poor lesson into a great lesson.

10 Techniques for Retrieval Practice: Retrieval practice has many forms. Here’s I’m suggesting 10 ways of reviewing prior learning that require no marking and can form a great repertoire of activities.

To address underachieving groups, teach everyone better. There is just too much noise out there about chasing sub-groups as if their learning needs are substantially different.  Often they’re not – and this blog makes a case for focusing on the core teaching you do with everyone.  Literally everyone.

Rescuing Differentiation from the Checklist of Bad Practice. Written following some twitter discussion ‘outlawing’ differentiation; this is a mistake. We just need to understand what it means. It’s a sensible idea about providing different levels of support whilst having the same high expectations for everyone.

Revisiting Dylan Wiliam’s Five Brilliant Formative Assessment Strategies.: For me, these five strategies are really important ideas and are not referred to enough.  Here I link them to other ideas from Rosenshine, Berger and so on.


Three powerful steps to deeper understanding and better recall. Specify; check; apply: An attempt to simply the teaching process.  It dovetails to many other blogs here – but the specify, check, apply process can keep things simple.  Weakness in one of these often explains weak learning for some or all students.

Two influential papers:

Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction:  My original blog exploring this key paper using four simple themes, now with a new graphic by Oliver Caviglioli and a video of me doing a talk.

Shimamura’s MARGE. I’m a big fan of this paper and have found the Generate and Evaluate concepts extremely powerful in explaining good and bad practice around recall.  Well worth reading if you haven’t already.


Three Powerful Strategies: Specify, Check, Apply.  A blog with lots of specific examples of how teachers can and should specify knowledge more explicitly, check for understanding more and then look to apply knowledge in more ways.  In that order.

10 Reasons Lessons Can Be Less Effective Than They Could Be: A self-explanatory title – this blog lists some key factors in making lessons less effective but in turn, this serves as an agenda for improvement and implicitly a list of what many teachers do well.

Ask before you tell?  This blog looks at the very common teacher ‘myth’ that we’re meant to avoid giving away answers, asking before we tell. With the example of learning about the Baltic States, I suggest that giving information upfront allows you to accelerate the learning process, reaching more demanding challenges sooner.


Lessons that misfire:  This blog looks at why some lesson activities do not secure good learning – when they are based on bad theory.  There are some common practices here that really do not work well and probably should not be used.

How not to mis-fire: This blog is an exploration of a specific learning process – me learning about the wives of Henry VIII.  By working out how I could learn about the wives in a way that makes it stick, I’ve examined the need for conscious schema forming and various forms of generative retrieval practice.

The Power of Practice.  This post explores various forms of practice – the key to building fluency.

The Power of Questioning: A blog about the repertoire of questioning techniques that I recommend teachers develop.

The Power of Stories:  A blog about the importance of narrative structures in building memory and understanding.


Building Word Confidence.  An older post about building confidence with practising using and saying new words.

Ten teaching techniques to practise – deliberately.:  This is another popular blog rounding-up a range of questioning techniques.

Mode A + Mode B = Effective teaching and a rich enacted curriculum:  A model for balancing a core of instructional teaching with a range of other forms of teaching that combine to make teaching and learning, deep, interesting and varied.

Setting Great Homework: The Mode A:Mode B approach.: This extends the A:B idea to homework tasks.

Mindsets and motivations.

Great Teaching.  The Power of Expectations.:  A popular post exploring how significant teachers’ expectations can be in securing excellence, good behaviour, deep learning.

Engineering Success. A positive alternative to generic mindset messaging:  Engineering success could be a much better line of attack given the poor record of translating mindset theory into practice.

Studying successfully: motivation + strategy + habit:  The role of habit is key – with implications for building habits early on.

Teaching to the Top: Attitudes and strategies for delivering real challenge.:  A big part of this is teacher attitudes -but there are lot of things you can do every day or even just once in a while to provide the challenge students need.

Behaviour and Relationships. 

Know my name! A basic entitlement.: A basic element in forming relationships.  Names!

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Behaviour Management: A Bill Rogers Top 10 My most-read blog by far.

10 Silver Arrows: Ideas to penetrate the armour of ingrained practice:  Included here for ‘signal pause insist’ and some other easy-to-practice strategies.

Previous Blog Collections:

The Pedagogy Postcard Series: All in one place.


  1. Thanks again. To be quite honest I’m getting weary of the form of these comments. “Some good points BUT – here’s where you’ve gone wrong/missed something out/not fully understood”.. and then a link to your own blog. There’s something about the tone of the comment that means I never ever want to follow the links , so I don’t. If you want to promote your blog, just leave a short comment along the lines of ‘I explore these ideas here….’ and leave it at that. Thanks. (PS: I’m under no obligation to post comments I don’t like.)


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