Mark. Plan. Teach. by Ross Morrison McGill

Who is Ross Morrison McGill? You might know him better as @TeacherToolkit, The Most Followed Teacher on Twitter/No 1 Education Blog in the UK/Top-50 #EdTech Brands Worldwide. In Real Life, he is an author (this is his third book for Bloomsbury) and a senior leader “with over twenty years of teaching and school leadership experience in some of the most challenging schools in London”.

So, what’s the concept? This is an interesting book because it taps into the educational zeitgeist pretty well. There are practical ideas you can actually use in lessons and it addresses the hot topics of workload and research in a user friendly format. This is unsurprising, because top edutweeters have a hefty influence on the educational discourse at the moment, and Ross is clearly one of the most influential of the lot. (After all, it’s in his twitter bio).

The book is divided into the three sections of the title. Each section has 10 ideas. Mostly these are practical, classroom based ideas but they also cover teacher wellbeing and reflective practice. Not all of these ideas are new (of course, what really is?) but what is great is that there are clearly defined sections on the evidence behind each idea and superb commentary from Dr Tim O’Brien @Doctob, giving a psychological perspective. I think that there is a real difficulty for class teachers in dealing with educational research, because we are in a time where accepted practices are being shown to either have practically no evidence base at all (take a bow, triple marking) or even to be actively harmful to learning (see this recent post from The Learning Scientists blog  on the problems with overly busy classroom displays, and weep for the time you have spent laminating). Classroom teachers are pretty short on time to engage with research, and we are often just exposed to whatever research backs up the training we are currently receiving. I for one sat through “evidence based” training on brain gym and VAK, all of which is now thoroughly debunked. The current trend for making research more accessible to teachers is welcome.

Who’s it for? The ideas in the book are predominantly subject and age neutral, so this is a great book for primary, secondary and FE colleagues. It’s aimed at class teachers and leaders alike. So, you know, everyone really, Covering everything from seating plans to wholesale system change in one book is a big ask, but Ross pulls it off in a very accessible style. What struck me, and of course it would, is the focus on the win-win situation of reducing staff workload while improving impact on student learning.

What are his views on Ofsted? The book is dedicated to “all those teachers who have had their careers blighted by school inspection”. His preferred moniker for the Big O is “The Grim Reaper”. Draw your own conclusions.

Why buy the book? Two reasons;

1-It’s a really useful book.

2-It’s about 270 quid cheaper than attending this training with him, so quite the bargain. (If you’re interested in Ross’s training offer, all the details are on his website and his Eventbrite page).

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