Room 101: What Teaching Ideas Would You Condemn?

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Room 101


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...
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What drives teachers crazy and what teaching ideas do teachers believe should be condemned?

The life of the teacher is hard enough without silly ideas being imposed on a professional. Take a look through some of these horrors!

This is a longish-read, but it’s worth it to know if you’re working in a school that’s right for you! Last week, I decided to spread some seasonal cheer, offering copies of my books to Twitter followers, yet was astounded by the 250+ number of responses to this question, ‘What would place in room 101?’ I’ve captured them from this thread into this blog post. Some are “direct quotes”.

Assessment and Marking

This was a hot topic and confirms what I’ve researched on my travels – marking perceptions and compliance policies is driving our teachers out of the profession.

  1. All most some.
  2. Assessment, purely for data’s sake.
  3. Marking books. The time wasted could be used for better collaboration.
  4. Writing “2 stars and a wish for children that can’t read”, featured several times!
  5. Spending hours marking when “students just look at the grade” and read none of the feedback!
  6. The verbal feedback stamp is to serve one purpose, and it’s not the students. This featured many times.
  7. Lolly sticks with children’s names…
  8. That “lots of red pen in a book equals good feedback”.
  9. Homework for the sake of it and all the marking that comes with it…
  10. Copying down the learning objective which you also ‘have to show’ at the start of the lesson.
  11. Anything that means the teacher is working harder than the learner.
  12. Book looks – because “it tells you everything you need to know about a school’s technology stance”.
  13. “Work scrutinies that condemn teachers who don’t do it!”
  14. Traffic-light self-assessment.
  15. The ‘purple pen of praise/progress’.
  16. Tick and flick…
  17. Those EBI / WWW sheets
  18. Marking every two weeks, regardless of subject
  19. Marking of note-taking!
  20. Marking when the audience is anyone other than the student.
  21. Different coloured pens for dialogue marking
  22. DIRT (dedicated individual reflection time)
  23. Different coloured pens.
  24. That “people still think differentiation is making a million different worksheets”.
  25. Feedback on the students’ books which takes longer than the actual as a piece of work
  26. Homework for primary pupils.
  27. Marking for the sake of school policy and performance-related pay directly linked to attainment
  28. Data for data’s sake so that nothing can be done without data to support its effectiveness. “Drives me mental!”


There are some awful approaches here!

  1. Giving student teachers too much university work at the expense of lesson planning time.
  2. The three-part lesson plan!
  3. “Writing schemes of learning in a central proforma when you already have it!”
  4. Independent learning that isn’t scaffolded. It doesn’t work.
  5. Minute by minute lesson plans… “The bane of my life!”
  6. “Written lesson plans that are for anyone but the teacher.”
  7. “I would condemn Inset days dedicated to writing curriculum intent statements!”
  8. “Handing in your lesson plans on a Monday morning and receiving it back by break, with or without stickers!”
  9. “Making weekly lesson plans to give to management, a week in advance…”
  10. “‘Ambitious’, trendy curricula that fail to address the basic skills that children need.”
  11. Lesson objectives must have: All, most, should and some could.
  12. “Poorly planned and untargeted staff training…”
  13. Whole-school standard lesson formats…
  14. “Rubbish IT equipment that never works at the exact moment you need…”
  15. “Spending an entire half term as a trainee teacher observing, then diving straight into teaching!”

There’s one really good solution to all of this?

Teaching Concepts

  1. Visual, Audio and Kinesthetic learning styles featured heavily in the responses! We have work to do… One teacher said: “I had to colour code lesson plans in the past showing visual, auditory and kinaesthetic aspects of the lesson to cater for all.” Another teacher said, “Why oh why will this just not die?”
  2. Any gimmicks that are ‘in vogue’, including Bloom’s taxonomy pyramid, thinking hats, Dale’s Cone of Learning,  ability setting, growth mindset, character education and brain gym! This also featured heavily… One teacher said: “The idea that Bloom’s taxonomy automatically dictates the level of challenge in a learning objective.”
  3. The assumption that reading is an ‘English only’ activity.
  4. Putting the tables in groups – the rooms aren’t big enough – or sitting in rows.
  5. Assessing ‘soft skills’…
  6. Binary discussions about how to ensure equality of provision for all
  7. The idea that banning mobile phones by many schools.
  8. “That real learning happens inside and the learning outside is a fluffy…”
  9. “I’d condemn the idea that all documents need to be printed for Ofsted.”
  10. Insisting progress should be seen within every 15 minutes of a lesson!
  11. Differentiation by outcome.
  12. “Get the learning going and cut out the teacher talk at the start of a lesson!”
  13. Hands Up!
  14. Grading observations: Outstanding, Good etc
  15. That rooms need to be decorated with posters, working walls, examples of students work.
  16. Using whiteboard pens on the tables…
  17. ‘Language of the month’. “There’s barely enough time to teach them English and French!”
  18. Copying teaching techniques from other countries without understanding how they work…
  19. The Daily Mile. “I’ve never seen my playground look more like a prison exercise yard.”


  1. Photographic evidence of learning (it’s not)
  2. Ofsted – why can’t they trust us, as professionals, to have the best learning interests of the children?
  3. Mock Ofsted inspections!
  4. “SATs targets in a one form primary – every child makes a 3% difference!”
  5. Data-driven performance management targets and performance-related pay, “when there’s no money in the system to do this properly!” Another teacher said: “Target grades used to calculate ‘value-added’ which are completely unrealistic and meaningless. The idea that working my a**e off to help a student just to meet their target means I’ve not added value is both ludicrous and professionally insulting.”
  6. Learning walks done by non-specialists in my subject – who need to complete a form – or observations by people who don’t teach and haven’t taught for a good while…
  7. Overly detailed recording of individual outcomes and benchmarks.
  8. Featuring twice, Michael Gove. One said: “I still haven’t forgiven him” and another, “I’d throw the key away!”
  9. Deep dives and workbook scrutiny in isolation without the teacher.
  10. Evidencing verbal feedback.
  11. Multiple report deadlines all on the same day!
  12. “Policies that haven’t been discussed with the teachers who are the ones who have to abide by the policy…”
  13. “After school interventions!”
  14. “A directed time budget! What other profession has this?”
  15. Formal lesson observations with written feedback for teachers – two stars and a wish style!
  16. That there’s a simple solution to every complex education problem
  17. “That my main focus is to prove I’m doing my job when I could spend those hours and hours just being better.”

Behaviour rarely featured – a mere four suggestions.

Exclusions, attendance awards, the “Don’t smile until Christmas!” mantra and also the constant need to change behaviour policies – every year or in some cases, every term!

5 thoughts on “Room 101: What Teaching Ideas Would You Condemn?

  1. Filling in behaviour slips during a lesson so the rest of the class start to misbehave whilst your teaching is further interrupted

  2. Anything that is imposed with a message of superiority. Just let teachers get on with it! They are the only people who can claim they have different beliefs action research. Absolutely the only people! Butt out!

  3. Wow a lot resonated with me here – especially “lots of red pen in a book equals good feedback”.

    I’d also add: “Yelling at the top of your voice about how students are being too loud in the classroom / library.” Might we call this “disruptive discipline”?

  4. Restorative conversations. Yes little Johnny’s been a complete sh*t but I can’t expect an apology. I just have to spend my lunch break having a chat about the things that he’ll do differently next time, when we both know it won’t make the slightest difference to his behaviour

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