25 Years Researching Teaching and Learning

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Mark Plan Teach - 30 Ideas Summary - by @TeacherToolkit


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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Is it possible to capture 25 years of teaching and learning in a 3-minute read, or in a one-page summary?

Over the past 12 months, I have been sharing my 25 years of teaching and learning experience; research; trial and error; participation in studies and action research in schools; as well my experience of 18,000+ taught lessons and conducting countless observations.

You can get a sense of where I’ve been here. Grab the PDF here, and read more about how it works in the classroom.

Sketching bite-sized summaries …

My experiences and research in education have been captured in my latest book, Mark. Plan. Teach. which has now sold over 25,000 copies across the world. I have vlogged the ‘Mark’ section for you to hear me explain some of the marking, feedback and assessment ideas inside the book.

Over the past few months, I have been working with the super-talented Oliver Caviglioli to sketch up all 30 ideas from the book. Below you will be able to download a PDF summary, and over the coming months, I will make all 30 PDFs available to download here on TeacherToolkit.co.uk.

Below is a bite-sized summary of 60,000 words inside the book and my 25 years of working (so far) within education. I hope you find the summary helpful and the PDF (download below) a vital tool for discussions in your classrooms and schools.


1. Teachers must have a Secure Overview of their curriculum and the social, emotional and mental health aspects of the students sitting in front of them. Use verbal feedback carefully to motivate, manage confidence and provide the right pitch of feedback.

2. Use live marking (written or verbal) to enable students to be immersed in their learning – but do this in the classroom – small groups of learners at a time. Use quick codes to allow students to self and peer assess. Great for reducing workload and improving self-regulation.

3. Create a redraft culture so that feedback becomes valued. It is not good enough for teachers to spot the gaps in their students’ learning, you must know what to do ‘with that gap’. Encourage students to learn how to find and fix.

4. Smarter marking (or feedback) must be selective: manageable for the teacher; meaningful and motivational for the student to actually do the work. Feedback must leave the student with more work to do than the teacher.


5. Teachers must be clear and precise about what they want their students to learn, not do. A simple methodology is using the #5MinPlan: What? Why? How? What if? Apply the ‘So Why?’ test to all lesson goals. Focus on Stickability.

6. Pitch lessons so that all students remain in the struggle zone. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this the FlowModel – when students move from apathy to flow, they become immersed in their learning. E.g. “Sir, that lesson went really quickly…”

7. Differentiate over time, rather than by lesson. Pitch teaching to the top for all students and adapt to meet students by scaffolding support. Quality first teaching matters, and you – the teacher – are the greatest intervention in the classroom.

8. When dealing with behaviour, follow the school policy; adapt your lesson plans to meet the needs of students. Following a one-size-fits-all curriculum will not benefit you or your students. Detailed plans require a reality check – lesson planning is a thought process.


9. Be explicit about outcomes and use modelling to demonstrate, review and explain. Regular quizzing or low stakes testing is a classroom strategy to embed information into long-term memory. Go with the flow if work requires more explanation …

10. Use an evidence-base for any teaching and learning policy; remember, it’s not statutory, so whether you have 5 or 50 teachers in one school, not everything will work the same in every classroom. It is important to be flexible, even within one school.

11. Use the Question Matrix as a workload tool to plan a series of planned questions for schemes of work; ask students to design questions; use the grid to critique & lead discussions. Effective teaching pitches questions perfectly in classroom discussion.

12. Teachers rarely have time to reflect because their working environment gets in the way of classroom reflection i.e. cognitive overload. Place coaching/classroom observation at the top of school priorities – provide teachers with the opportunity to reflect in action/situ.

13. Teaching and learning culture places teaching and learning conversations at the heart of day-to-day work. Establish coaching as an alternative to grading teachers/lessons… and shift appraisal towards research-inquiry-based performance.


You can download the full PDF – for free!

Mark Plan Teach - 30 Ideas Summary - by @TeacherToolkit

Grab a copy?

You can grab a copy of Mark Plan Teach at 20-30 per cent off on Amazon, or grab a signed copy from my resources page.

If not, print a coloured copy of the PDF for your staff room or share it at your next teacher training session? Share it widely to help other teachers. I hope you find this research useful and something you can adapt to your school context.

Over the coming year, I will be releasing the ideas inside #MarkPlanTeach in a PDF summary designed by @olicav

All 30 ideas inside the book will be made available to TT followers and to those schools who use the ideas to improve teaching and learning.


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