Making learning meaningful with learning journeys

Mar 21, 2022
I'm sure many of us have, at one point or another, been asked this question by a student:
"What is the point of me learning this?" or something else along the same lines.
And, truthfully, sometimes it can be tough to come up with a good answer. "Because you need to know it for the test" just doesn't really cut it, does it.
Our reality is, however, that we are mandated to teach the curriculum. And the dense, fast-paced nature of our curriculum can often mean that we end up quickly jumping from concept to concept in our efforts to 'cover it', and our students sometimes fail to see the relevance or the connections between what they are learning, and real-life applications. They also don't feel like they have the time to properly develop or master a certain skill or topic, before they are moved on to the next one.
This is where learning journeys come in. A learning journey is where students are provided a clear pathway to a collective goal. There is a clear start,...
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How teachers can help their students set challenging learning goals

Feb 08, 2021
In my last article I wrote about the power of raising teacher and student expectations, in line with John Hattie's assertion that 'self-reported grades' are one of the biggest effect sizes when it comes to improving student outcomes. You can read the article here.
In this article I'm going to talk through some practical strategies that teachers can use in the classroom to do this, primarily by helping your students to set challenging learning goals, along with developing a growth mindset.
By the way, goal-setting and growth mindset is something that we focus on in the Transformational Teachers Academy. Not a member yet? You can join us here.
Note that when we are talking about learning goals, this is very different to learning intentions. Learning intentions are necessary to provide teacher clarity, so that students are aware of what they are learning and where they are heading. Learning goals on the other hand, are the specific, unique goals that...
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How teachers can empower their students by raising expectations.

Feb 04, 2021
Professor John Hattie, in his work on Visible Learning, cites 'self-reported grades' as being one of the biggest effect sizes when it comes to improving student outcomes.
So what is this actually talking about? Hattie has since said that if he would actually re-label this to be 'student expectations', as this is a more accurate label of this concept. 
What this is referring to, is first of all ascertaining what students are currently expecting of themselves, by asking your students to 'predict' their grade for an assessment or unit of work. Hattie asserts that students are actually very good at predicting the grade that they will get, based on their past performance, and their current levels of effort and engagement.
But that is not where it stops. The next, very important, step is for the teacher to use this information to encourage or 'push' students to raise their expectations (ie. to set a more challenging, yet achievable/ realistic goal).
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Tips for teachers: getting organised for the first week back at school

Jan 09, 2021
If you are a beginner teacher, starting up at a new school, or even if you have been doing this teaching thing for years now, preparing for the 1st week of teaching for the year can seem somewhat daunting.
Need some motivation or guidance to get organised for the new school year? Join our 5 day challenge, starting on the 25th January. Each day I will email you a video, as well as useful tools and templates, that will step you through a key task to help you to start the year smoothly, with minimal stress. 
Your 'to do' list can seem overwhelming, and with so many things often going on at once it's a recipe for a stressed out start to the school year.
Here are my tips for a smooth start to the year:
  1. Make a list - start by writing down everything that you can think of - the key here is just to get it out of your head. If you are feeling overwhelmed the best thing you can do is get it out of your head.
  2. Prioritise -...
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How to Set Teaching Goals For The New Year

Dec 21, 2020
So many of us feel inspired when the new year comes around to set new goals in all sort of areas of your life - but do you take the time to set clear and specific goals for your teaching career?
As you all know, keeping up with the day-to-day tasks of teaching can keep us very busy. This means that sometimes our long-term goals and priorities can get swept to the side due to more urgent tasks that are begging for our attention. Whilst these tasks might be urgent, they are not necessarily important in the big scheme of things - but nevertheless they end up consuming our time.
This can sometimes cause us to become a little bit lost in the system. We might lose sight of the reason why we became a teacher and could even become a bit disillusioned. 
Setting goals helps us to act with purpose, clarity and focus, and reminds us of what is most important to us. You can't get to where you want to go without knowing how to get there - so this article will help you to...
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Reflecting on the year that was 2020

Dec 14, 2020
“We do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience.” John Dewey
The importance of reflection cannot be understated. In order to continue growing and evolving, and to move forward with purpose, intent and understanding into the future, it's necessary to reflect on the past - including what we have accomplished, the mistakes we have made, the lessons we have learnt, the new understandings we have come to, and the extent to which we have changed and evolved.
When doing so, it's important to keep your goals and values for the year in top of mind. Look back at the goals that you set at the beginning of the year, and your mission statement. Did you take action throughout 2020 that was in alignment with your goals, values and mission?
With 2020 being the year that it was, it may also be somewhat amusing to look back at your goals that you set at the beginning of the year, when you had no clue what 2020 had in store!
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How to end the year on a high note as a teacher!

Dec 07, 2020
We are nearly at the end of the school year, and all too often it can feel like we are crawling our way to the finish line. Energy levels are usually depleted, and everyone is a bit over it - teachers and students, included. Let’s face it - you are just hanging for the holidays, am I right? 
So how can we finish the year on a high note? Here are some ideas…
  1. Reflect on your teaching programs: go through your programs and acknowledge what went well, and what you might change for next year. Even if you are not teaching it next year, your line manager and the teachers that are teaching it next year will greatly appreciate it. 
  2. Ask your students what their highlights of the year were, and if they have any suggestions for the following year. This is a great way to include student voice, and they may surprise you with what they thought was a highlight, as it might be something that you did not consider. 
  3. Have your students reflect on...
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How to plan a week's worth of lessons in 2 hours or less!

Nov 30, 2020
How many times have you spent at least as long creating an amazing lesson plan, as it takes to actually teach the lesson? 
Most teachers have a minimum of 20 - 25 hours of teaching time per week to prepare for. The rest of the working week is not only for lesson prep, but also marking, admin work, meetings, parent communication, pastoral care, and much much more. So what we don’t want is our lesson prep taking nearly as long as the actual teaching time. 
Often, the way we lesson plan is 'a bit here and a bit there' - whenever we get the time (and it can sometimes be very last minute). The problem with constant task-switching is that we can lose a lot of time during the transition from task to task - anywhere between 5, to even 20 minutes. Every time you need to lesson plan, you need to find the teaching program, get your planner out, get set up, and get your head into the right frame of mind. 
So what if you could 'batch create' your lesson...
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Essential skills for teachers in the 21st century

Nov 24, 2020
The nature of teaching is constantly evolving, especially in a world that is rapidly changing by the day. Technology keeps advancing at ever-more increasing rates, which brings massive changes to the way the world operates. We are trying to prepare students for jobs that don't yet exist, and help them to develop the skills that they will need to deal with the many political, environmental, economic and social challenges that the future will bring them. 
So what are the essential skills that teachers need in today's world and into the future?  
Gone are the days where students comply without question, and the teachers’ authority is respected outright. No - these days, students will not hesitate to question the relevance of what is being taught, and teachers cannot rely on the use of fear tactics or punishment to enforce compliance. 
So what are we to do? Well, we need to be able to persuade and motivate our students to learn -...
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5 ways to increase engagement in your classroom

Nov 18, 2020
It’s an age-old problem, but one that is ever-increasing in today’s world - how to get our students more engaged in the classroom? This can be the case whether you work in a school with a range of behavioural issues and struggle to get students ‘on task’, or even if you work in a school with very little behavioural issues but compliance is more the norm than engagement. 
According to, "student engagement refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education”. 
Many teachers try to get more student engagement by making lessons ‘fun', including games and rewards. This definitely has a place, but it’s not reasonable to expect that teachers can do this every single lesson. Not only that, but the novelty of extrinsic rewards can...
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