The Ripple Effect

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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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Imagine dropping a pebble into water and observing the centre ripple outwards …

Our own teaching rarely takes into account the views of colleagues, parents and students, but in this post I remind the reader that these views must be considered. Imagine for a moment, that you or the lessons in which you teach, are that very pebble dropping into the water. Everything that you do, has a far-reaching impact on others …

Sow the seeds early. If you happen to walk pass students you will be teaching later in the day; simple tell them you ‘cannot wait to see (teach) them later on’. Tell them what ‘a great lesson’ you have planned. Perhaps say it within earshot of others … This is your own ‘teaching-pebble.’


The ripple effect hypothesis can be applied in lesson observations and in your own classroom teaching. Consider the immediate effects of your actions and your students’ actions. Then consider the knock on effects of this. How far-reaching could the effects be? Remember how far the ripple travels in the water. Everything you do has the potential to ebb outwards and the benefits, or otherwise, will be far-reaching and wide across the school community.

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The ripple effect can also be associated with the interview process. In particular, from teachers attending school interviews and those not getting the job. Essentially, good feedback applies in all contexts. When a candidate leaves your school, even if they are unsuccessful, they will leave equipped with constructive and detailed feedback, as well as advice for their next interview. These are not only powerful messages for the candidate; they are also emitting a positive impression of the school. After all, experiences and feelings about a school will be summed up in one or two sentences in the staff room and this can often be enough to build up or tarnish a school’s reputation through word of mouth.

Like all ripples, they can eventually fade away, but some bounce back and return to their origin. Either way, this can only have a positive impact on your school and eventually your own practice if you consider the implications from the outset.


  1. Have you ever consider the ripple effect in your own teaching? Your own teacher-reputation?
  2. How often do you seek the views of other colleagues, parents and even students and if you do, what do they say?
  3. And if you don’t, why not? Is it not important?

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Image: Shutterstock

Take it Further:

Create this philosophy in your own classroom with students. The next time you need to stop the lesson and re-focus behaviour, expectations, moral code and relationships with peers and parents, consider the ripple effect. It can be applied in any framework and will certainly re-adjust your mindset when taking into account, the views of colleagues, parents and students.

You can find more in this book …

100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers: Outstanding Lessons


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