So what is #Stickability?

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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Stickability is a term used within the notable 5 Minute Lesson Plan.

I have decided to write a short post, based on the demand for clarification.


What is 'stickability'?
What is ‘stickability’?

So, that’s the definition (above quote). Staying power!

Do your lessons have ‘staying power?’

(or preferably, ‘sticking power’?)

Do your lessons have 'sticking power?'
Do your lessons have ‘sticking power?’

Regardless of all the other content written within The 5 Minute Lesson Plan, ‘Stickability’ is fundamentally what learning and lesson planning should be all about. With relation to lesson planning, it can be defined as the following:

  1. What is the fundamental aspect of the lesson, you need students to learn?
  2. What key skill, knowledge or understanding, should students grasp?
  3. What should students leave your classroom knowing/understanding?
  4. What should students return to class knowing/understanding?
  5. Why should this ‘stick’ with students?
  6. How will you make it stick?

And questions to ask yourself (the following lesson)?

  1. How will you know that it has stuck?
  2. And if students become unstuck, then what?
  3. How and when should you focus on ‘sticking’ learning?


I would like to quote a Twitter-colleague Stephen Tierney, Headteacher of St. Mary’s Catholic College in Blackpool. We have formed an excellent dialogue via Twitter and are now co-collaborating on producing teaching and learning resources for the schools we both work in. This is exciting news in itself, never mind the exciting projects we are working on!

Developments via Twitter
Developments via Twitter

I make reference to @Head_StMarys and a photo-quote – shown below – due to the following lesson planning structure Stephen has shared:

'Outstanding' teaching focuses on 'the learning' and not the planning, or activities.
‘Outstanding’ teaching focuses on ‘the learning’ and not the planning, or activities.

This was produced here, in a response to my popular Good in Ten (Requires Improvement) CPD programme for teaching and learning. A model that can be applied in all schools. You can read more of his fantastic work on his blog here:

The learning and lesson-planning model is a gem!

It is all about ‘stickability’. Why?

As Stephen has rightly highlighted, that all ‘Outstanding’ lessons focus on ‘the learning’ and not ‘the activity’. Where, learning gains are tight, the lesson plan can remain loose and adaptable. In lessons that are judged ‘Good’ or not, the planning and learning are more rigid (or tight) and have more emphasis on the lesson plan or activities. This is the golden nugget for outstanding teaching.

– – –

Plan you lessons based on learning – not the activity or lesson plan!

– – –

Stickability fundamentally asks the teacher (the person planning the lesson) to indicate ‘what should stick?” This is ultimately ‘the learning’ sequence planned for the learners (the students) and I hope clarifies for the reader, the terminology used in The 5 Minute Lesson Plan and subject title. Good luck!

It's all about Stickability!
It’s all about Stickability!

Further reading:

What to get started on ‘outstanding’ teaching and lesson planning? All you need to know is here.

Video highlighting ‘Stickability’:

11 thoughts on “So what is #Stickability?

  1. Slight confusion here on my part, if anyone could clear it up I would be very grateful. If stick ability is the one big, main concept/idea you want them to grasp – should that not come before your learning objectives in the planning phase, and before the engagement – should you not come up with that, then hang your LOs and engagement around them?

    Thanks for a great resource


    1. Objectives cab be quite prescriptive and limiting. Often focusing on curricular descroptions etc. Stickability allows for one or two ‘learning gains’ to be focused. For example: Lesson Objectives: “I will develop a wide range of design ideas providing aesthetic and ergonomic features through annotation and feedback.” Stickability (what I really want students to take away) would be that I’d like them to graps the definition of ergonomics and how this would be applied in design ideas/skecthing. Persoanlly, I’d sum this up with writing just ‘ergonomics’ in the Stickability section.

      1. A great resource that I have only discovered this morning. Could stickability also be called “learning outcomes”

        Thanks for a great site

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