What is a Good Teacher?

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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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So, what is good? And what are the key characteristics of a good teacher?

On Friday, December 4th 2015, I delivered a keynote at the SSAT National Conference: Leading Learning.

Cut through the waffle, reduce workload

During my mainstage presentation at the SSAT National Conference 2015, I raced through one-hundred-and-fifty slides in just forty minutes. Throughout, I gave answers to the question ‘How would you reduce the burden of marking, planning and teaching for teachers?’

This week, the SSAT are sharing five short films taken from my presentation. They are:

  • What is a good teacher?
  • Do we really need lesson plans?
  • Marking is broken
  • How we cut out the marking frenzy
  • Flying Start.


Click to play


I think we can start by agreeing that teachers are subject experts. This means we should continue to top up our subject knowledge all of the time. We need staff time to consolidate what we know and to build upon it with CPD in each department. At Quintin Kynaston we have weekly professional development every Wednesday – we collapse our timetable by one period. Sometimes it’s all together, sometimes differentiated, sometimes in faculties. We make sure all teachers get regular time to consolidate knowledge.

Openness is important at a number of levels. Our  classroom doors are open, and we encourage staff to showcase or celebrate the things that they’re doing. And, we want them to keep reflecting.

I firmly believe reflection is a default characteristic of all teachers and that’s what I started to do online – people that read my blog know that I like to reflect regularly. It leads to you developing your own repertoire further.

Good teachers accept no-nonsense – they cut through the waffle; they have high standards and they own their territory. They don’t jump through hoops – good teachers take risks. But are they mavericks? At one point, I probably considered myself to be a maverick teacher. But experience and observation of thousands of lessons showed me, that while there is a place for teachers to be somewhat maverick, they should not go against what the whole school is trying to achieve. There’s a time and a place.

All teachers need to be engaged with CPD, and schools must create mechanisms to enable teachers to do that. We need to collaborate and share because there is so much expertise within our schools; sometimes teachers just need that unlocked so that they can have an opportunity to become greater.

In our first action research journal, What Works? – we had 15 teachers collaborate to write and edit a publication in June 2014. Through the different workshops, staff shared ‘what works’ with their projects (NPQML, NPQSL, MAs, PhDs). We’re hoping to get two more journals out this academic year.



You can read my full blogpost here, Cutting Through The Waffle and download my full presentation here. Before you do, please click a tweet of thanks.

Cutting Through The Waffle SSAT Conference Workload

To view my other video-clips from the SSAT National Conference, click here.


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