An English Teacher's Toolbox

An English teacher at a Secondary School in the UK. * Sharing and questioning the day job. * I teach KS3/4/5.
* Looking for inspiration and motivation, to share with others. * Looking to constantly improve and grow. * On Twitter at @MissBex_M *
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Something we’ve focused on in recent department meetings is how we, as individual class teachers, can reduce the amount of ‘teacher talk’ that’s happening.

Our acting HoD set us an interesting challenge before half term, to record the amount of time we ‘teacher talk’ in 6, 1 hour lessons. We then had to reflect and consider, a) at which points in the lesson were we talking the most and why? b) how did the pupils’ behaviour change at different points? and c) what strategies might we be able to employ to reduce the talk?

On reflection, I realised that for me the biggest amount of ‘teacher talk’ was at the start of the lesson, where I was setting up the context of the lesson and the task. One way I’ve dealt with this in the last few months is through the use of ‘bell work’ (see earlier post). This strategy enables students to be actively engaged immediately and independently, as the task requires little or no elaborate instruction from the teacher.
Here are 2 recent examples:




Both of these activities allow for complete independence as soon as the pupils enter the room. If they are unsure, I direct them back to the board or to ask their table or teaching assistant (where applicable).

The use of bell work means I can set up the lesson, deal with issues and sort register etc. without eating into the learning time.

Another strategy which has helped me to decrease ‘teacher talk’ is to give very clear, concise instructions visually as well as verbally. This means using the PowerPoint/ Smartboard to support my task instructions clearly. For an example, see below:


The reinforcement of the LOs and clear instruction means that I can spend more time supporting individual students, rather than repeating and reexplaining tasks.

Of course, there are other strategies to employ. For example, you can use students as teachers, or set tasks up so that the ‘dialogue’ is in the style of verbal football. But I’m interested in other ideas.

What strategies do you see as useful in cutting ‘teacher talk’ and increasing the pupils’ time spent engaged in independent activity?


How to get the grades! #TheCrucible Revision

You can find some of my ‘shared’ resources available on @tes here

#CreativeWriting #Exemplar #Resource #Analysis #FeatureSpot #Mine

I created this to use with year 9. I want them to identify ways of creating atmosphere. Here, I’ve used the weather.

But I also want them to ‘peer assess’ and to suggest ways to change and improve.

A wordle version of Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream…’

I created this handy help sheet for staff about ‘Bell Work’.

It’s commonly used in primary schools, but less so (it seems) in Secondary school classrooms. Tomorrow, at our department meeting, I am introducing and promoting the concept of Bell work to the rest of my department.

Sharing, as this may be useful.

Something I’ve created:

I have been making and using these for the last few years, for all KS3 assessments. Simply use APP levels and language, linked to the standards in the NC and make it all a little more pupil friendly. Then, staff highlight the area that best-fits the individual student’s work.

Your gaps = pupil targets (and things to address in reflection and your teaching).

Using these two crisp brands, compare and contrast the language and design. How do their audiences differ? How do you know? #nonfiction #language #advertising - Inspired by my Y12 anthology prep, I’m adapting for y9.

My ‘Active Listener’ - put together last year with another colleague. #REDS

Word class