10 Research Based Principles of Instruction for Teachers

Belmont Teach

I recently read an American Educator article from 2012 by Barak Rosenshine that set out 10 principles of instruction informed by research, with subsequent suggestions for implementing them in the classroom. It was also one of the articles cited in the “What makes great teaching? Review of the underpinning research” by Rob Coe et al and provided further elaboration on one of their six components of great teaching thought to have strong evidence of impact on student outcomes, i.e. quality of instruction.

Here’s my summary of the key messages from each of the 10 principles.

1: Begin with a short review of prior learning


Students in experimental classes where daily review was used had higher achievement scores. A 5-8 minute review of prior learning was said to strengthen connections between material learned and improve recall so that it became effortless and automatic, thus freeing up working memory.

Daily review could…

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Knowledge organisers in science

Class Teaching

A few weeks ago I read this post by Joe Kirby on Knowledge Organisers.  It made a great deal of sense to me for 3 main reasons:

1.  It reminded me of how I learnt to spell – I’d learn the words, cover them up, write them out and then check my spellings.  This process was then repeated – and it worked.

2.  Students having to think about and recall knowledge, is going to make them remember it.  To quote Daniel Willingham:

willingham quote3. I teach science – a subject that requires students to be able to recall a great deal of knowledge.  What’s the point of teaching them how to structure a 6 mark extended writing answer, if they haven’t got the knowledge in the first place?  It’s like asking a builder to build a wall, without any bricks.

Knowledge organisers seemed to address all three of these points. …

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Making Every Lesson Count

Class Teaching


Last July, Andy Tharby and I set upon a project. We wanted to write an accessible, readable book for classroom teachers, whatever their subject. We wanted to cut through the myths that surround education to focus on some core principles for teaching and learning that could be adapted to fit a range of teaching contexts. We wanted the book to be founded on strong evidence yet to not lose sight of the wisdom of experienced teachers.

And so Making every lesson count was conceived. The book looks at the practical ways ordinary teachers can foster a spirit of excellence and growth through everyday classroom practice. We have been helped along the way by many others from the edu-Twitter world – Dan Brinton, Pete Jones and Chris Hildrew have all written about how they have put the principles to work in their schools. Our friend Jason Ramasami has brilliantly brought…

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R.E.A.L. Projects – The Beginning

Belmont Teach

This post was written by Laura Jackson, our Project Based Learning Lead.

There is a shared folder in My Drive which makes my heart flip every time I look at it…..

REAL projects folder

Rewind almost 18 months and I had just finished reading Ron Berger’s “An Ethic of Excellence” closely followed by  “Leaders of their Own Learning”. The message that stuck with me and I think of several times per day, every day and often quote is:

“It’s not a quick fix, it’s a way of life”.

Ethic of excellence, Berger

Leaders of their own learning

The Dream

In June 2014 I was extremely fortunate to visit the annual Festival of Learning at Cramlington Learning Village and saw some of the R.E.A.L. Projects that the students had been working on in their “Project Fortnight”. The quality of these projects, coupled together with the articulate young people who had been working on them, left me leaving Cramlington wishing we…

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726 ways to achieve good exam results! (Or why the solution should always be smaller than the problem.)

Reflecting English

Image: @jasonramasami

What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.

– Chip and Dan Heath, Switch

In the opening pages of Switch: How to change when things are hard, the Heath brothers share the story of two health researchers from West Virginia University who wanted to persuade the public to eat a healthier diet. Rather than telling people to eat less saturated fats or to cut their daily calorie intake, they went for an unexpected approach. Buy skimmed milk rather than whole fat milk. The researchers had worked out that if the entire population were to make this simple switch, average levels of saturated fat consumption would immediately drop to a healthy level. Just like that.

This is an example of ‘script the critical move’ – in other words, if you want people to make a change, give them sharp, simple first steps. In this…

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What makes a great teacher?

Bromley Education | be inspired

This article was written for Sec Ed magazine and was first published in March 2015. You can read the original version here and read more of my monthly columns for Sec Ed here.


In his book, The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle says: “Master coaches aren’t like heads of state. They aren’t like captains who steer us across the unmarked sea, or preachers on a pulpit, ringing out the good news.”

Instead, their personality is “more like that of a farmer than a president or preacher: they are down-to-earth and disciplined”.

And so it is with great teachers.

Like master coaches, great teachers “possess vast, deep frameworks of knowledge, which they apply to the steady, incremental work of” – what Coyle calls – “growing skill circuits” (or what we might more colloquially term helping our students to develop their knowledge and skills, to get better at something), which “they ultimately…

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Mindset, attitude and behaviour

Class Teaching

mindset mainThe image above, or versions of it, are probably commonplace in a number of schools up and down the country – and understandably so.  It makes perfect sense to be focusing our efforts on fostering a growth mindset in our schools – getting students to realise that their intelligence and achievement is not fixed, but can be developed, is important.  Really important.  Recently I read a blog by Nick Rose that made me think about how we’re going about this in schools.  This extract struck a chord:


(Read the whole blog here)

This sparked a conversation with a colleague at work – a non-teacher with a background in psychology.  She spoke about how this idea linked to work being done to support alcoholics.  Whilst they may shift their attitude and see why not drinking alcohol is important, without a toolkit of strategies to change their behaviour and help them…

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Building an Excellence & Growth Culture

Belmont Teach

I was delighted when Shaun Allison asked me to write a case study about our work in school to be included in a new book he is writing with Andy Tharby.  Shaun’s Class Teaching blog was the original inspiration for the Belmont Teach blog and Andy’s thoughtful and insightful blog posts have been must-reads since we both started blogging around the same time over a year ago. Our similar philosophies led to Shaun, myself and a few other edu-bloggers setting up the Excellence and Growth Schools’ Network last year as well as sharing ideas on a range of concepts – most significantly perhaps around curriculum design and assessment. Since meeting at the Growing Mindsets convention last year, Shaun and I are like old pals now and can be relied on to clog up each other’s timelines with recipes, pictures of single malt and the lyrics of indie bands circa 1989!


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Life without lesson observation grades

Class Teaching


In April 2014 we stopped grading lesson observations.  This post looks at why we did it (and why every school should) and what we’ve noticed since.

Why we stopped grading lesson observations

  • Judging a teacher on a 30 minute snapshot of their work is ridiculous.  It ignores the other hundreds of hours they spend in the classroom (and out of it) that makes a huge contribution to the outcomes that their students achieve.  Would you call Pele a poor footballer because of this miss, or acknowledge his greatness based on the 1281 goals he scored in 1363 games?

  • If we are serious about being a ‘growth mindset’ school, how can it be right to label our teachers in this way?  Instead, why don’t we focus on useful, formative feedback?  By grading teachers, we are suggesting that only ‘requires improvement’ or inadequate’ teachers need to get better, which again is not…

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Assessment Without Levels – The story so far

Class Teaching

In May 2014 we were awarded a DfE Innovation Fund to develop a method of assessing without levels in KS3.  We saw this as an opportunity to reclaim purposeful assessment and so came up with our ‘Growth & Thresholds Model’ which is outlined here.   The system has now been in operation with Y8 since September, so I thought it would be timely to share how it’s been going.

The whole process has required a shift in thinking for staff, parents and students.  Rather than focusing on a predetermined end-point and how to get there i.e. an end of key stage target level, we are focusing on their starting points and then how to move them on – without their progress being ‘capped’ by a target.  We do this by scaffolding their learning through four thresholds, towards excellence.  The idea is that all students will aim for excellence.  This principled approach to assessment…

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