Pimp Your Lesson

Reading time: 3

Paul Ainsworth

Paul has been writing for the Teacher Toolkit website since 2012 and is the author of 'No Silver Bullets: Day in, day out school improvement'. He is a system leader supporting primary schools, secondary schools and MATs currently with with Infinity Academies Trust as Education...
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How can teachers improve the quality of their teaching? To pimp or not to pimp?

There are some books that we talk about and quote, but for some reason, we have never read them or owned a copy. This was certainly the case with Isabella Wallace’s and Leah Kirkman’s book ‘Pimp Your Lesson’. I probably should have asked for royalties, considering the number of times I’ve ‘mentioned it to teachers’, after only having the description on Amazon to reference! So, it was great to finally receive a copy to read.

Prepare, Innovate, Motivate and Perfect:

‘To pimp or not to pimp?’ that is the question.

Pimp’ is one of the great words that has drastically changed its meaning.

I can remember one art teacher producing a fantastic school Christmas card that included the phrase, ‘pimp your sleigh’. The change from being an objectionable noun to a dazzling verb, which refers to extreme improvement, had gone unnoticed by the current headteacher and the Christmas card was censored!

This book changes the use of word further and as the front cover states, ‘pimp’ stands for prepare, innovate, motivate and perfect; ideal instructions for teachers aiming for excellent lessons.

My first surprise was its brevity. It is only 160 pages, which I certainly didn’t see as a bad thing. I have a habit of not finishing education reads, but instead I read this slim, volume-packed book full of ideas, which is manageable.

Inside The Book:

I had a reservation that it would be out of date.

Surely the idea of ‘pimping your lesson’ belongs to a former concept of lesson observations, where your entire judgement rested on a couple of 30-minute observations? However, the copy I have is the third edition of the book published in 2014.

Unleashing The Pimp Within:

From the beginning, it discusses typicality, ‘observation now is… an honest depiction of what learning looks like in your classroom. Typicality. And the only way to shine… is to have the highest standards and ‘seek the best outcomes typically’.

These are sentiments that few would disagree with.

Pimp Your Lesson

Pimp Your Lesson: Page 1-2 (Introduction)

Pimp your lesson has valuable chapters on lesson planning, assessment for learning, SMSC (social, moral, spiritual and cultural) learning, literacy and numeracy, ICT, resources, starters and finally plenaries. It’s packed with ideas! However, the chapter that caught my attention most was differentiation. We all know that this is the biggest stumbling block for many of our colleagues, so I wanted to see what advice the chapter held.


Like the rest of the book, the chapter on differentiation is easily read and written with good humour. The clear and easily accessible advice should help even the most recalcitrant teacher believe that differentiation is possible if they are not already using un-signposted examples.

Each chapter has a ‘trash it‘ section covering tactics that we should’nt use. This chapter discusses colour-coded worksheets, heaping extra work on the more able and colouring from the outside! I’ll let you read to find out what that means …


Pimp Your Lesson

Pimp Your Lesson: Page 15 – 16 (Lesson Planning)

Yes, there are times when the book does feel a little dated. In my Trust’s ‘Challenge for Good’ programme, our teacher facilitators have renamed the sections on starters and plenaries yet in Pimp your lesson they are still called this. A minor detail, but something you can expect when work is published. Although the chapter does have a section entitled ‘pimp your progress’, providing many methods of measuring pupil’s progress in the lesson, which is just as relevant today as it was in 2014.

In addition marking and feedback is undoubtedly a key part now of pimping our teaching and whilst there is a short chapter on assessment for learning., this could be developed more or maybe there is an opening for a future book, ‘Pimp your marking’?

However these are small points.


Good teaching is still good teaching and this book is a great place for all practitioners to quickly gain some new ideas which can put our teaching in the fast lane, or as the final chapter is named: go forth and pimplify! Why not take a look inside and grab a copy?

Wallace, Isabella & Kirkman, Leah. 2014, ‘Pimp Your Lesson’, Bloomsbury, London, UK.


Written by Paul K Ainsworth for Teacher Toolkit. He is an Advisor for Multi Academy Trust, Chair of Governors and Author of ‘Get that Teaching Job’ and ‘Bloomsbury CPD Library: Middle Leadership’.

You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pkainsworth and read more of his articles here.


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