What makes a good teacher?

I’ve had the opportunity this year to work in a lot of different schools and have seen a lot of different teachers teach. I’ve worked in a number of ‘outstanding’ schools during my career so far and worked with a lot of amazingly good teachers. You want to know what makes a good teacher? Good lessons.

Kids want to be learning stuff and how to do stuff that links to what they have already covered. Stuff that is part of a unique, shared and individual journey on a specific topic.

Not laminates.

Not marking.

Not spreadsheets.

Not posters or knowledge organisers.

Not technology.


I think it boils down to a pretty simple scaffold to build your lesson from.

1. Start – Have something for them to do when they come in – have a set routine where kids know where they sit, where to put their stuff and what equipment they need on the desk. Link that task to targets from the review task from the previous lesson.

2. Now – Tell the kids what they are covering in this lesson, how they will do that and then create shared, agreed success criteria.

3. Why – Explain why they are doing this lesson and how it fits into the bigger picture in terms of the unit and wider world.

4. Show – Teach them something! Give them new content. This can be via you telling them, a written text, a video, webpage, the medium is often dictated by the group. It needs to be specific and you need a clear understanding of the stuff being taught today.

5. Try – Give them an activity that lets them synthesise new content and apply new skills. Be as creative as you like in task setting – again tailor it to suit your learners. Make sure you model how to complete the task and the thinking behind your version of the end result.

6. Apply –  Model meeting the shared success criteria from step 2. Let the kids use their new knowledge or skill in an individual silent task.

7. Review – Reflect on the new skill or content – check they have met the shared success criteria from step 2 and set a target for next lesson’s step 1 … and the cycle continues…


There are lessons that cannot fit into this model and not all lessons should – the same lunch every day gets boring! However if you are planning on teaching something specific I have found this framework is a great foundation for good lessons.

Do all of the other stuff – laminate everything, create amazing diagnostic spreadsheets, organise their knowledge, mark their ThinkApply, use a class blog, attend every optional meeting, phone every parent but if your lessons don’t stand up then what is it all for?


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