Alphabetical Signposts to Teacher Excellence – B

Back to contents


Balance – This was a contribution from Jill Berry on Twitter – “It’s crucial in life and it’s vital in education. Get balance right, eg professional/personal, support/challenge, confidence/humility”… Need I say more? Thanks Jill.

Baldino (Roberto) – A Brazilian maths teacher who uses the idea of “Solidarity Assimilation Groups” – students are placed in groups of four to learn maths from a text book and via his instruction. They then take a test individually on that unit once they signal that they think they are ready. Each student is then given the score of the lowest scoring pupil in the group. The idea here is that “individual accountability” is a feature of the group work in that each pupil’s best effort is required to help the other students achieve. If one student does not give their best to learn and help the others, then the group members do not achieve as well as they would otherwise. Interesting idea.

Bansho – Japanese instructional method of teaching using the blackboard. Japaense teachers take great pride in their board work. At least 80% of content written on the board remains there for the rest of lesson. More info here.

Ban mobile phones? A debate in education that has people split. Obviously there are the distractions that come with phones and cheating, as well as the social aspect of it – we don’t want children staring at their phones all lunch time and not communicating. There are also arguments for their use including in class formative assessment tools such as using them as voting systems for Kahoot, recording homework and setting reminders but also for safety reasons when travelling to and from school. Article from the Guardian here. Research paper here. Some schools have a complete ban, some have a partial ban, i.e. in lessons and in corridors. There is a body of evidence to suggest that simply having the phone on their person is a distraction for the children in itself.

Background knowledge is key to comprehension – studies have shown that around 10 hours of reading instruction is what is needed to develop reading skills. After that, the instruction is pretty much redundant. What helps us to comprehend a text is background knowledge. Article from AFT here and the ASCD here. Article here named “Can Reading Comprehension Be Taught?” Knowledge and skills/critical thinking are not friends, they’re married!

Barton (Craig) – @mrbartonmaths – This man has helped to change my out look on education, particularly in maths. The work he has done on with TES,,, his podcast, his blog, his Twitter account and his new book, which I refer to later, are truly transformational. Thank you Craig, we all appreciate you greatly!

Berry (Jill) – @jillberry2012 – Jill is the former Head of Dame Alice Harpur School in Bedford.  Since leaving headship in 2010, she has worked as an Associate for the National College for Teaching and Leadership, carried out a range of educational consultancy work and completed a part-time Doctorate in Education, researching the transition from deputy headship to headship. Her book,‘Making the Leap: Moving from Deputy to Head’, was published by Crown House in January 2017. She is really helpful on Twitter and some one you should definately follow.

Behaviour is not personal – seperate the behaviour from the pupil. Talk about their behaviour, not about *them*.

Behaviour management is a skill that can be practised and improved. Clear, consistent routines are key. Following through with rewards and consequences are important. Restorative conversations are really effective, after the behavioural incident, to coach the student and maintain positive relationships. “Understanding how we run rooms (and schools) to create a culture where great behaviour is encouraged, scaffolded, supported, expected and demonstrated. Piece of CAKE.” Tom Bennett via Twitter. Tom’s TES information on behaviour can be found here. Tom Sherrington recently shared a “Bill Rogers Top Ten” here. Rosalind Walker also blogs about “0-60 in the behaviour system” here. I have personally blogged about how I have practised behaviour management here, part 1 and part 2. Here is a video on Paul Dix’s view on behaviour management and some his companies ideas surrounding restorative approaches. Non-confrontational behaviour management blog here.

Behaviourism is a systematic approach to understanding the behaviour of humans and other animals. It assumes that all behaviours are either reflexes produced by a response to certain stimuli in the environment, or a consequence of that individual’s history, including especially reinforcement and punishment, together with the individual’s current motivational state and controlling stimuli. Although behaviourists generally accept the important role of inheritance in determining behaviour, they focus primarily on environmental factors. It carries the assumption that all behaviour can be explained without the need to consider internal mental states or consciousness. We can leverage this in our teaching when assessing performance in our classroom. Video here. Article here. Blog from David Didau here. Behaviourism vs cognitivism article here.

Bennett (Tom) – @tombennett71 We have a lot to thank Tom for. Tom, among many other things, is founder and Director of ResearchEd and has his own website He also chairs the Department for Education behaviour group. He has had a number of books published and has written for the Guardian and TES. His specialism is behaviour management training.

Beware of educational fads. Thanks to TeacherToolkit!

Bjork’s New Theory of Disuse has essential lessons for teachers. Storage strength and retrieval strength are important for memory. A key idea here is that memories are never really gone forever but are more difficult to retrieve, the longer we don’t use them. Some memories just need a little prompt to be retrieved, like your first home telephone number. The best time to retrieve information is just at the point of forgetting. Leverage this in your curriculum and lessons! Here is a lovely clip of Dr. Robert Bjork talking about this himself. A nice summary of the paper here. Full paper here.

Blocking vs interleaving – a body of evidence shows that blocking content in your curriculum is as good as interleaving content, but never better. When content is interleaved students can spot differences and similarities between surface structures and gain a more nuanced view of the concept. Robert Bjork stated that one of his most surprising pieces of research was when people were asked about different characteristics of paintings. Some were shown paintings by the same artist in blocks and some were shown paintings in an interleaved fashion. The second group were able to identify paintings by an artist more effectively. He puts this down to being able to elicit differences as well as similarities in paintings leading to better elaboration. Our curriculums are largely blocked by default. Time for a rethink? Excellent blog here and article here.

Blogging – reading blogs in education is so important and allow us to zoom out from the day to day bubbles that we live in. Writing blogs can be equally important both for your own reflections, remembering things and for sharing best practice. Get blogging, even if it is only you that reads it! The blog of the week from Shaun Allison at Durrington Research School is my go to place. Here is SchoolsWeek’s best of 2017.

Books – some of the best CPD out there lies in books written by experienced teachers and leaders. Let’s stop teaching using our “professional intuition” and let’s learn from those who have made the mistakes that we are about to make and give us a more nuanced view of the strategies that work. Here are some that I have read in the last year that I would recommend and half the reason I feel capable to write this blog – What Does This Look Like In The Classroom?Why Don’t Children Like School?When The Adults Change Everything Changes, Making Every Lesson Count, Teach Like A Champion 2.0How I Wish I’d Taught MathsMemorable Teaching, Switch, Chimp Paradox. Next on my list: The Learning Rainforest, Making Good Progress, Visible Learning, What Every Teacher Needs To Know About Psychology,Knowledge Matters, The Reading Mind.

Boulton (Kris) – A close second to Craig Barton in who has moulded my view of education is Kris @kris_boulton. Kris is a former second in maths at King Solomon Academy, which under the leadership of Bruno Reddy achieved incredible results in one of London’s most deprived areas. His blog “…to the real” is just phenomenal. His ability to think deeply about a topic and explain it in a clear and concise way means that he is great to listen to on these podcasts, part 1 and part 2. He is an advocate of  research into cognitive science, explicit instruction, Siegfried Engelmann’s Theory of Instruction, he is a Teach First Ambassador and now Director of Education at Up Learn – an online system that, among other things, guarantees you an A in A level Economics or your money back. One to watch! I recently taught non-specialist teachers how to solve simultaneous equations by elimination from start to finish in 3 hours with a 90% success rate throughout using his “My Best Planning Series.”

Boys vs girls – girls are outperforming boys academically, nationally, we know this. A great blog here from Mark Roberts about re-thinking the engagement of boys which dispels some myths and offers some practical advice “Gender Equitable Teaching” blog here. “Girls, girls, girls” blog here on peer effects in the classroom. Why can’t boys be… well, more like girls? Post here from Alex Quigley.

Brain Training – a fad from the early 2000s that claimed to increase working memory capacity by subjecting users to a series of tasks that were claimed to aid working memory. While it might have shown this to be true during the games themselves, i.e. students levelled up, the skills were not transferable. Working memory was increased in the brain gym domain but this could not be applied elsewhere. A research paper here and article here named “Out of control: Fundamental flaws in brain training.”

Building relationships with pupils, staff and parents, as well as teachers and leaders from other schools is essential. A nice blog here and here. Paper from American Psychology Association here.

Back to contents

One thought on “Alphabetical Signposts to Teacher Excellence – B

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s