100 Ways To Improve Your Teaching Without Really Trying

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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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How can teachers improve their day-to-day teaching, without really trying?

A list of 100 things I’ve done in the classroom to improve my teaching without really trying. I hope this list inspires your thinking and teaching…

  1. Get 8 hours sleep every night – and question like a boss!
  2. Have a refillable water bottle on your classroom desk
  3. Have a ‘keen’ pupil always ready to hand out worksheets
  4. Keep a pencil case full of chisel-tip whiteboard pens
  5. Store a permanent marker pen vertically, with the lid pointing down
  6. Stash a secret pile of glue sticks, and always keep the lids in a box when binning old ones
  7. When it’s morning break, take a break!
  8. If you’re on break duty, store ‘pastoral moments’ for classroom discussion
  9. Learn the power and safety of Cntrl, Alt, Delete
  10. Read every word in your school’s behaviour policy
  11. Wear comfortable shoes, expensive ones, that will carry you all academic year
  12. Always keep an eye on the local job market, the terminology used and salary scale
  13. Ask pupils to repeat key information back to you
  14. Read to your pupils, every lesson, every day
  15. Show pupils you care
  16. Have a teaching buddy who can rescue your class in an emergency E.g. toilet
  17. Teach pupils ‘how to learn’ in nosier circumstances E.g group discussions, debates
  18. Store your keys and ID badge on separate lanyards
  19. Get on good terms with your site staff, you may need a fan or a heater in your classroom
  20. Hold the door open for pupils
  21. Superglue a small pencil sharpener to the end of your teaching desk
  22. Laminate a large A3 5-minute lesson plan to your teaching desk
  23. Say ‘Hello’ to every stranger/visitor on the school corridors
  24. Wear a vest in the winter months
  25. Always carry hand gel
  26. Eat one small bag of Satsumas on your classroom desk, every week throughout the winter
  27. Get yourself a good quality visualiser
  28. Subscribe to your subject association and/or teaching union
  29. Attend one national teaching conference at least every two years
  30. Teach pupils how to work in silence for brief chunks of time, building up the timeframe toward examination
  31. Keep pupils attentive, working in 10-20 minute chunks before providing some time to retrieve or slow down
  32. Buy yourself an Acme Thunderer 58 whistle
  33. Have one motivational quote printed on your classroom wall
  34. At the start of each term, print off a ‘next holiday’ picture to keep your mood
  35. Talk to your head teacher when you are feeling low
  36. Call one pupil’s home with good news, every Friday night
  37. Always be polite and patient with your reprographics team
  38. Have a conversation with your classroom cleaner, weekly
  39. Make sure pupils stack chairs on the tables at the end of each day
  40. Never hand over your photocopying card to someone else
  41. Bring in two boxes of chocolates on your birthday – one for class, the other for the staff room
  42. Challenge all outdated marking policy ideas E.g. once a week
  43. Throw your verbal feedback stamp in the bin
  44. Keep a secret stash of blue/white tac
  45. Lead an all-staff professional development session
  46. Sometimes, teach from the back of the classroom
  47. Just once, take the ‘pupil’s’ bus journey home to understand their story
  48. Try teaching without your whiteboard and projector
  49. Teach pupils the etymology of keywords, always
  50. Have a ‘show me’ whiteboard culture in your classroom
  51. Place QR codes on all your handouts
  52. Observe an experienced teacher
  53. Make friends with the colleague who has worked at the school for the longest time
  54. Arrive at every class before the pupils
  55. Arrive at school before the pupils
  56. Where possible, leave school with the pupils
  57. Don’t wear coloured clothes that show off your sweaty armpits in the summer
  58. Don’t wear flip flops, ever
  59. Know where your nearest fire extinguisher is
  60. Know where the CCTV cameras are
  61. Create a feedback zone in your classroom for one-to-one meetings during class
  62. Create a classroom-based ‘Youtube Playlist’ you can use at any time
  63. If you ignore it, you condone it. Always call it out…
  64. Non-verbal signals are your pupil’s best friend E.g. ‘thumbs up’
  65. Spending a few hours creating screencasts or pre-recorded ‘how-to’ tutorials will help get your life back
  66. Teach pupils explicit study skills from the first day they meet you, not a few weeks before exams
  67. Video and/or voice recordings are more powerful than a written report
  68. Don’t get yourself into a triangle of messy relationships
  69. Design a marking code and spend hours teaching your pupils how to use it
  70. Don’t allow the classroom bully to bully you
  71. Always give pupils 2 or 3 minutes to ‘wind down’ after a wet and windy break
  72. Work hard to sustain your reputation on a daily basis – you can lose it at any time in a moment of madness. For example, being on time, supporting a colleague breaking up a fight, helping with the school production after school.
  73. Don’t let anyone use your pack of highlighter pens
  74. Know safeguarding law, inside out
  75. One foot on the classroom floor, one foot on the corridor – meet and greet, end and send – every lesson
  76. Read up on your subject knowledge once a month – be the person who knows the most about your subject
  77. Love literacy, physical exercise and all subjects matter across the school. Don’t fall foul of badmouthing other curriculum areas…
  78. Assemblies are central to school ethos and values. Always be on time, show pupils that you are also listening and be prepared to make announcements with a strong, loud voice
  79. Position your teacher desk to face the classroom door, but at the opposite side of the room
  80. When circulating the class and having one-to-one conversations, always face the class
  81. Keep an egg timer on your table
  82. A hole-punch too, but perhaps chain or glue the base to your desk if you have to
  83. End every lesson early, providing plenty of time to ‘go slow’ and pack away. Use any spare time to reflect, retrieve and plan ahead with pupils
  84. Make the first 3 or 4 minutes of every lesson, super exciting. This energy will ‘rub off’ on your pupils’ moods…
  85. Learn a poem off by heart and recite it to your class when they need ‘revision’ moments of inspiration
  86. Order your next teaching book using any discounts your school librarian has access to
  87. Walk the school corridors during one non-contact period. Observe closely what is happening…
  88. Learn how to make a cup of tea in less than 3 minutes
  89. Be on ‘good terms’ with your school’s cover supervisors and cover manager
  90. Don’t get bogged down in idle school gossip and rumours
  91. Have two clocks in your classroom. One for you, one for the pupils which is a couple of minutes slower
  92. Your teacher planner is your life. Protect this at all costs, but keep personal information out
  93. Develop a clear scrip for teacher instruction E.g. M.I.N.T.
  94. Don’t wear tight clothing
  95. Conduct a research project as part of your next appraisal
  96. Keep your social media profiles clean, safe and secure
  97. Wearing a tie doesn’t make you teach any better, but if you like wearing one, wear it with pride
  98. Take a day off sick if you’re thinking twice about going to work
  99. NO teacher has achieved great results by marking all of their books on a Sunday night. Mark two or three every day instead and spend time with your family and friends at the weekend. If we want to keep teaching a 9-5 career, we need to keep our working hours under control…
  100. If all else fails, resort to tip number one

Making small changes to the way you work on a daily basis can help you not only transform your working habits, mental health and productivity, but it’ll make you a better teacher in the end too!

Inspired by a lifestyle article in The Guadian,

6 thoughts on “100 Ways To Improve Your Teaching Without Really Trying

  1. “Keep a pencil case” is the real deal. Learning need it as writing down something with pencil requires struggle which keeps the information in your brain for longer time. Good for teaching. Thanks for all the useful tips.

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