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What is a good lesson? What makes a teacher successful at delivering good lessons?

Sir Michael Wilshaw says successful teachers develop a style with which they are comfortable, not complacent, and which they know works. It works because children enjoy their lessons, are engaged, are focused, learn a great deal and make real progress. For him, a good lesson is about what works. What works is what’s good.

He warns against trying to prescribe a particular style of teaching:

“whether it be a 3 part lesson, an insistence that there should be a balance between teacher-led activities and independent learning, or that the lesson should start with aims and objectives, with a plenary at the end, and so on…”

“We should be wary of too much prescription. In my experience, a formulaic approach pushed out by a school or rigidly prescribed in an inspection evaluation schedule, traps too many teachers into a stultifying and stifling mould, which doesn’t demand that they use their imagination, initiative and common sense. Too much direction is as bad as too little.”

Some key characteristics of being a good teacher:

1. Plan lessons, know what resources to employ. Planning shouldn’t be too detailed.

2. Be incredibly reflective and able to adapt the lesson plan. Know that you don’t know everything. Talk and learn a lot about teaching and share with others.

3. Be perceptive and know the dynamics of the classroom. Be highly interventionist.

4. Nothing is taught until it is learnt.

5. Be resilient. Never let failure get the better of you. Be fierce and tough on standards. Be authoritative not authoritarian.

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