How To Create A Teaching and Learning Common-Sense Culture? by @TeacherToolkit

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If you led teaching and learning, what would you NOT want one-hundred teachers to do in your school?


What I would like to share in this blog post is an initial description of what we do not want our teachers to do in our school, with our students, in their lessons. We want to develop a learning culture that supports teachers’ individuality, professional development and personal workload; matched against the needs of our students and whole-school priorities.

I am soon to publish our own to learning policy (originally shared here) which brings together a degree of clarity, consistency and expectation across the entire school. I will share this with my readers in due course.  You could consider this as our own version of the ‘myths and facts‘ type-document that Ofsted are now in the good habit of producing; designed to dispel nonsense and fads that have least impact of progress, and only support increased workload, lazy SLT-ideology and tick-box cultures …

Why not share this blog with your colleagues, especially your leadership team and start your own debate?

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If you led teaching and learning what would you not want your teachers to do? Much of the information below follows the format of what I have already shared here; A Common Sense Approach to Marking Workload; plus the Learning Policy document that we have been working on …


  • Do not use your own marking code/framework separate to the school.
  • Do not forget to have a secure ‘assessment’ overview of every child in your class.
  • Do not mark every page.
  • Do not tick and flick.
  • Do not waste time date stamping marking.
  • Do not record in writing when you have provided verbal feedback.
  • Do not expect every piece of work to be re-drafted.
  • Do not get bogged down in the minutiae of coloured pens.
  • Do not expect reams and reams of student response to feedback followed by teacher response to the student’s feedback!


  • Do not waste time writing individual lesson plans.
  • Do not focus on activities.
  • Do not be concerned about 3, 4 or 7-part lesson sequences.
  • Do not forget ‘what and how’ subject knowledge and skills can be imparted through the planning process.
  • Do not fail to consider ‘why’ you are asking the students to attempt this piece of work.
  • Do not focus on differentiation by lesson, but focus on over time.
  • Do not let students sit randomly around the classroom.
  • Do not plan for lessons to start sluggishly; this does not mean a starter activity!


  • Do not waste time asking students to copy the lesson objectives. Lessons must get off to a flying start!
  • Do not focus on playing it safe. Go with the learning!
  • Do not ignore poor literacy and quality of language; including your own.
  • Do not allow students to take it easy. Students must work harder than the teacher (over time).
  • Do not ignore the fact that you need to check the learning. What has stuck? This does not mean frequent micro-plenaries or plenaries every lesson; but over time, checking what has been learnt; what needs to be re-taught/consolidated.
  • Do not ignore poor behaviour. Follow the behaviour policy at all costs.

What Next?

These are just a starting point and much will be discussed and edited over the coming weeks. I look forward to sharing what we as a staff, agree. Why not share this with your colleagues, especially your leadership team? We want to stop wasting teachers’ time and focus on high-quality marking, planning and teaching, without the guff.

What do you think? What is necessary versus nonsense?

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In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account through which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of being most influential in the field of education. He remains the only classroom teacher to feature to this day ... Sharing resources and ideas online as @TeacherToolkit, he has built this website (c2008) which has been described as one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK', winning the UK Blog Awards (2018). Read more...

16 thoughts on “How To Create A Teaching and Learning Common-Sense Culture? by @TeacherToolkit

  • 18th June 2015 at 6:44 am

    Reblogged this on teachaldenham and commented:

    Some ideas about how to create a common sense Teaching and Learning Culture – valuable starting point for discussion.

  • 18th June 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Reblogged this on THIS Education Blog and commented:

    THIS could be a good clear list of ‘Do Nots’ for any teacher to adopt as a starting point. A teacher could think about these lists when doing their job on a daily basis. I will be using this when the right time comes….

  • 18th June 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Thanks Ross. This is good advice for teachers. I have reblogged this on thiseducationblog. I will be using this myself as a starting point again someday… hopefully soon. Thanks. Gareth.

    • 18th June 2015 at 11:40 pm

      Hi Gareth. I wanted to share the opposite first to what we hope to advocate as expected practice in our school re. consistency. All to be revealed very soon.

  • 18th June 2015 at 8:38 pm

    “Do not use your own marking code/framework separate to the school.”

    You mean all subjects should use the same codes? Why?
    I have seen a system used by our Languages staff for example – common to all the Languages taught – it is designed for the subject and many students have explained it to me. It works.

    • 18th June 2015 at 11:41 pm

      Context. Every school has different needs. This is ours. Consistency first, then differentiation once it is taking place…

  • 19th June 2015 at 10:45 am

    Really like this, we are doing similar things. How are you dealing with possible contradiction between not marking everything and not ignoring poor quality literacy?

  • 20th June 2015 at 8:08 am

    I really like a lot of the bullet points, however some of the ‘do nots’ I find valuable for using the student’s exercise book as an easy revision tool- writing LOs for one little example. I refer back to these a lot in my lessons, even between different terms, to help students understand their learning journey and how it all fits together for assessment.

    As a HOD of English, I think I will put these bullet points to my team as very interesting.

    Looking forward to reading more!

  • 20th June 2015 at 8:59 am

    It makes negative reading-is that the point? Could you do ‘definite do’ and try as often as possible’ lists….

    • 20th June 2015 at 9:17 am

      It is deliberate. I have the “to-do” version ready to share in 3 parts. All to be revealed this weekend.

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  • 23rd June 2015 at 6:29 am

    A refreshing overview of what we all feel as individuals. The challenge is getting the collective mind to change and alleviate pressure from management to follow the norm and expect an army of teacher robots to deliver what can only ever be a subjective outstanding lesson. We need more ways to engage inspectors and SLTs in ways of measuring performance over time and not in the here and now. That means using pupil voice as a way to discover what teachers also do when not being observed and inspected.

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