My Top Teaching Books!


The Latin Quarter, Paris, France

There are certain books I turn to time and time again to give me ideas and inspiration for my teaching, and teaching and learning sessions, particularly in the run-up to observations. Here are my top teaching books:

Pimp Your Lesson by Isabella Wallace

A fun, easy to read book looking at all aspects of lesson planning and how to get across all the fantastic things you’re already doing.

The Perfect Ofsted Lesson by Jackie Beere

A clear guide to what the inspectors are looking for in your lessons, wit lots of practical advice grounded in the grading criteria.

All books by Ron Clark!

Ron Clarke is the teacher depicted by Matthew Perry in the fab feel-good movie ‘The Ron Clark Story’.  He uses stories from his on experience to discuss a back to basics approach to teaching young people real life lessons.

Teacher’s Toolkit by Paul Ginnis

A must on every new teacher’s list. No theory, just a hue collection of teaching strategies and ideas.

Getting Things Done by David Allen

Not specifically for teachers – just for all very busy people!



Changes to how Ofsted judges YOU!

English: A vector image of a mortar board hat.

I had an illuminative CPD this term that looked at the recent changes to the way Ofsted inspectors are trained. The new guidance is as follows:

‘Inspectors must not expect teaching staff to teach in any specific way or follow a prescribed methodology.’

‘When inspectors observe teaching, they observe pupils’ learning’.  (School Inspection Handbook p34)

‘ The only orthodoxy is that there is no orthodoxy.’

‘Data should enlighten judgement not dictate- people led not data led’.

This is useful info for us teachers. It allows us to stop worrying about whether or not we’ll be penalised for failing to display the learning objectives throughout the lesson and other such pedanticities. In a letter  to all inspectors (March 2013), it was made clear that inspectors shouldn’t favour particular teaching methods over others.

When evaluating teaching we must not advocate a particular methodology or teaching style. Our inspection frameworks are not prescriptive on teaching style. However, inspection reports often contain phrases that give the false impression that Ofsted expects teaching to occur in a particular way or that adopting a standard approach will lead to effective teaching and learning.

Instead, the focus should, as always, be on the quality of the teaching and learning. This might sound obvious, but it does make me think more about a fantastic talk I heard by an experienced teacher at a conference years ago in which he underlined the importance of thinking about the desired outcome first, and letting all our jazzy teacher’s toolkit-style ideas come into play only if they are the best way possible to aid deeper learning.

So how will inspectors judge the quality of out teaching? Here is a reminder of the five key areas they are looking for:

—* Challenging
* —Pupils’ responses demonstrate gains in knowledge
* —Good monitoring by teachers and adapting teaching as needed
—* Good questioning and discussion to check learning
And here is the difference between Good and the often elusive Outstanding!
Teachers experiment in the classroom and take risks
—learning is often pupil led
—Teacher’s welcome pupil feedback: they ask the question ‘How can I help you to learn better?’
—They allow thinking time. Pose, Pause, Bounce and Pounce!
—They are often inspirational
—Their pupils know how to improve