1/2 corked by @TeacherToolkit

Reading time: 7


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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This is a collection of all my blogs since publication on 1st January 2014.

As I turn my attention towards completing my second book, I have promised myself to only blog once a week throughout the summer. We’ll see if I can keep to promises! Regarding the book, I will be sharing details with you in the Autumn term. So, this blog 1/2 corked, is one last finale for the departing academic year. I would normally save an overview of all the blogs I have written throughout the year for the Christmas period. This appears to have been a natural tradition for ‘us bloggers’, so 1/2 corked is written to allow the reader to catch up – over the summer holidays – on all the blogs I’ve written so far this year. You can read also my blog overview of 2013 here.

Photo Credit: Dominic's pics via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Dominic’s pics via Compfight cc


In January 2014, I published the following blogs, starting with my back-catalogue for 2013.

I shared my own leadership self-review to develop myself and work with others and followed this with my #CynosuralAddiction to blogging. Ofsted produced updates for all teachers which inspired me to write one of my favourite blogs of 2014 and still continues to inspire my new book, The visual anatomy of a #GreatTeacher. I shared my first classroom video-footage with the world in lesson reflection and review. Then in mid-January, I shared how The social-media epoch is out-dating Ofsted and The Department for Education which instigated the DfE, Ofsted and Ofqual taking part in @SLTchat over the Spring term. It was a landmark blog indeed and has led to many roundtable meetings with many bloggers. I also put my ‘passionate-cap’ on and shared The role of lesson observations stating my viewpoint on national debate.

Surprisingly, I was short-listed (and apparently won) the Top 10 UK Education Blogs according to @CisionUK. My Ofsted blogs continued to hit a nerve and readers asked me to share a couple of anonymous blogs. The first being a leadership experience of Ofsted and a second secret, why lesson feedback can be so divisive? Both blogs were quite revealing. In late January, I go on to review my own leadership practice and published my 4th part of 6 blogs: Can you manage the school organisation? I also shared my masters degree thesis from 2004 and highlighted the use of semiotics to improve teaching and learning. And finally, one of my most popular blogs of the year, #TakeAwayHmk is #UnHomework


February was a landmark month which saw the ‘famous-five‘ enter the gates to Ofsted headquarters.

With Stephen Tierney, I published yet another 5-minute template. This time, the very popular #5MinResearchPlan. I then had a little fun in two blogs, one co-authored with several Twitter followers: What can teachers learn from football? and the other, far too tempting to ignore, publishing Gove Political Pants by @TwistedTwee! Mid-term, I blogged a heartfelt story about two students I met over a two-week period and discussed raising aspirations and equal-access into university and shared what happened during an evening at The Royal Society of Arts; how can we tackle inequality in English education?

Back on the topic of Ofsted (it never goes away!), I said: There is no such thing as an Outstanding (one-off) lesson and suggested stepping away from observational judgements. This blog was well-received across the UK. As a result of my social-media epoch blog in January, I was invited to a ground-breaking meeting with @OfstedNews. I then shared yet another #SecretOfsted blog, this time regarding a special school and their experience and posted my overview of the Ofsted headquarters meeting: An edu-blogger mandate for @OfstedNews. This culminated in Ofsted sharing a document with me before publication to all teachers across England and Wales. I felt very privileged indeed. I still believe as teachers, ‘if we can organises ourselves, we can change policy.’ Read The @OfstedNews headlines. To cap the month off, headteacher Mark Creasy, published a guest-blog, titled: #Unhomework to share his new book which spurred me on to finish the month off with my 5th blog on leadership, securing accountability with leadership actions.


I finally took the plunge announcing that @TeacherToolkit is now for sale and was one of the first to make this landmark jump for all current teachers who want to publish their own work whilst still in the classroom. Meanwhile in school, I share my love of reading with my favourite poem and a fabulous assembly Letting go… I also experimented with a new piece of software for Improving reading speed; therefore, reducing marking time. I finally blogged about the Global Status #TeacherIndex via @VarkeyGems an important ranking system using another data-context when discussing league tables. It’s worth a look!

As the exam season gathered pace, I asked readers if you are feeling #ThePinch? and blogged about the #UglyTruth revisited: Marking; monitoring and progress and when observations go wrong: in another #SecretOfsted blog. My blog reached an incredible landmark with ONE MILLION reads on @TeacherToolkit and I asked you all, 30 simple questions which proved incredibly popular with teachers, headteachers and parents. There was much debate about observations across the edu-sphere and I asked if observers could spot good teaching? for the @GreatEdDebate. It was interesting to discuss where do observations go from here?

Photo Credit: Anders Adermark via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Anders Adermark via Compfight cc


During the revision season, fever pitch reached dizzying heights. I then shared my strategy for pacing yourself with #EndOfFlight forecasting. As promised and by popular demand, I blogged about my school observation journey: Getting it right: The importance of observations (Part 1/2) and then had some fun with a couple of leadership scenarios for interview practice; What would you do? Part 1 and Part 2 as well as my final 6-part series of leadership reflection to complete my full 360 analysis of my own leadership. Can you engage with the internal and external school community? This was followed up with one of the most popular blogs of the year so far, The 7 things top leaders do, by @MaryMyatt.

@TomBarwood shared a guest post with If no one is listening, are you still a teacher? and I helped CPD 4 Teachers promote Teachers on Twitter. During the Easter break, I tried a ‘Toby Young approach’ after reading an interesting blog about controversial blog titles. It worked and it was incredibly enlightening: 5 warning signs of a #LousyTeacher. I soon put the balance right with a wonderful blog by @JillBerry102 in What goes on behind a headteacher’s closed door? To end the Spring season, I made a bold prediction in The Guardian with How can @OfstedNews win over teachers?  I then co-authored a wonderful addition to the 5-Minute Plan family with The #5MinChangePlan by @TeacherToolkit and @ssgill76 and shared the news from The Royal Society of Arts Educational Inequality in England evening event. To end the Silly Season, I made a blog to boot and support teachers: The #SillySeason


After April, the blog reading seems to drop off. This is for two reasons to the unseasoned reader/blogger. a) the exam season takes precedence and b) I have less time to read and write. Statistics typically drop off by 20% between May and September. Nonetheless, since September 2013, I continue to have the most read educational blog in the UK. Quite humbling.

Wordpress Statistics

In my first blog of May 2014, Adam Snell discussed the culture of lesson observations and I have a setback at home, When childcare backfires! Throughout the same week, we have an incredibly powerful staff meeting and I share the second part of Getting it right: The value of observations. I share Peer-to-peer ‘fear or hear’ and discuss why it is so difficult for teachers to share with their colleagues. I attend the SSAT Arts annual conference and share something I am incredibly passionate about, Creative Teaching and Applied Imagination. As the summer draws nigh, I post 50 forward-planning questions for all teachers to consider when planning for September. It is well-received.

I finally secure my own values and vision as a senior teacher with The teacher-genetic-code. A blog I particularly enjoyed articulating. TakeAway Homework continues to be very popular online and inspires me to write 10 reasons to love #homework which is subsequently featured in The Guardian website. I reveal my 18-month job-hunt story to the world after 10 flights to and from London to Scotland: #Vamoose! I’m off to @QKynaston. During May half-term I come up with #EduSwapIt: A social-enterprise project which has proven to be a total flop!

I am inspired by my own handwriting and share a very, very popular blog: The importance of #handwriting which subsequently inspires a National Pen-A-Tweet day on the 1st July. In The Guardian, I have How would you like to be observed? as a feature. and at school, I share my favourite assemblies and Get your #AssemblyMojo working.


Inspired by Randy Pausch, I blog about one of my favourite books, The Last Lecture and Matt Roberts asks: Is self-assessment effective? Following personal experiences, as well as interviewing others, I state that the role of observations at interview are now defunct if we continue to judge them as one-off lessons. On 16th June, I celebrate my 3rd #FathersDay with Reflections on all things fatherhood. I attend Education Guardian in Kings Cross, London to Support teachers in the face of growing challenge. It proves a very popular topic with teachers time and time again.

I get creative with #CreativeTheory in pictures and write another favourite blog of mine, #Flashbulb Memory and publish the first co-authored resource for sale, #BeyondLessonGrades by @TeacherToolkit and @LeadingLearner . I ask What would you do? as an #InTray exercise for senior leaders and bring my monthly newsletter back in-house with Education Panorama (July ’14) which gathers all educational news from online, across the UK.
#PenATweet by @TeacherToolkit and @JeanEd70 follows an increased awareness of handwriting and is a huge success. I’m already looking forward to 1st July 2015.


Following my wellbeing visit to The Guardian, I publish my own views in A 5-point plan for teacher #wellbeing and share a lovely story about Eddie who is retiring from teaching; When I’m 66. I get a ‘bee-in-my-bonnet’ again about The importance of handwriting and spelling and produce yet another co-authored resource, #FormativeLessonObs by @TeacherToolkit and @LeadingLearner.

Slightly embarrassing, The Profession’s Great #FreedomFighter! by Francis Gilbert is shared online and I share my leaving speech in The #LastLecture Revisited. The beginnings of July prove to be an incredibly busy month on an Education Tour of Duty across England. We all can’t believe it when Michael Gove is demoted – yes, you did read that correctly – and I quickly blog about a 5-point plan for incoming DfE @NickyMorgan01 once I pick myself up off the floor. For a weekend in July, over 300 educators aim to Bridge the gap between academic research and classroom practice at @SLTeachMeet and I finish off this month with a conference I am speaking at, summarised in the fitting quote, ‘Perfection is a myth, but excellence is a habit’. I also publish my On Tour webpage to create my own public calendar of events. It’s all go!

For now, I’ll get my head down and keep my fingers busy on my book. I’ll report back soon and in the meantime, have a lovely summer whatever you’re up to …



Photo Credit: renedepaula via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: renedepaula via Compfight cc



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