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@TeacherToolkit – What is a good teacher?

This is the first of five posts featuring Ross Morrison McGill’s mainstage presentation at the SSAT National Conference 2015. Ross is @TeacherToolkit.

What are the key characteristics of a good teacher? I think we can start by agreeing that teachers are subject experts. This means we should continue to top up our knowledge all of the time. We need staff time to consolidate what we know and to build upon it with CPD in each department.

At Quintin Kynaston we have weekly professional development every Wednesday – we collapse our timetable by one period. Sometimes it’s all together, sometimes differentiated, sometimes in faculties. We make sure all teachers get regular time to consolidate knowledge.

We make sure all teachers get regular time to consolidate knowledge.

Openness is important, at a number of levels. Our classroom doors are open, and we encourage staff to showcase or celebrate the things that they’re doing. And, we want them to keep reflecting.

I firmly believe reflection is a default characteristic of all teachers and that’s what I started to do online – people that read my blog know that I like to reflect regularly. It leads to you developing your own repertoire.

Good teachers accept no nonsense – they cut through the waffle; they have high standards and they own their territory. They don’t jump through hoops – good teachers take risks. But are they mavericks? At one point I probably considered myself to be a maverick teacher.

But experience and observation of thousands of lessons showed me that while there is a place for teachers to be somewhat maverick, they should not go against what the whole school is trying to achieve. There’s a time and a place.

Maverick teachers should not go against what the whole school is trying to achieve. There’s a time and a place.

All teachers need to be engaged with CPD, and schools must create mechanisms to enable teachers to do that. We need to collaborate and share because there’s so much expertise within our schools; sometimes teachers just need that unlocked so that they can get to be greater.

In our first action research journal, What Works? – we had 15 teachers collaborate to write and edit a publication in June 2014. Through the different workshops, staff shared ‘what works’ with their projects (NPQML, NPQSL, MAs, PhDs). We’re hoping to get two more journals out this academic year.


Read the other articles in the series

What is a good teacher?
Do we need lesson plans?
Marking is broken
How we cut out the marking frenzy
Flying Start


Ross-McGillRoss Morrison McGill is @TeacherToolkit, the ‘most followed teacher on Twitter in the UK’, an award winning deputy headteacher who writes the ‘most influential blog on education in the UK’ and one of the most widely read across the world.

Once nominated for ‘500 Most Influential People in the Britain’ by The Sunday Times in 2015 and ranked one of the ‘Top-100 Brands in Education’ worldwide by Onalytica; McGill was nominated for ‘Teaching Award for Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School in London.’ He writes for Schools Week newspaper and for Guardian Education and is also the founder of @SLTchat and co-author of the #5MinPlan.

Download Ross’ SSAT NC15 PowerPoint presentation.

Visit Ross’ website.

Follow Ross on Twitter.

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Watch more SSAT National Conference 2015 films.

Download PowerPoint presentations from the SSAT National Conference 2015.

Ross’ school, Quintin Kynaston, is part of the SSAT network. Find out more about membership here.


@TeacherToolkit at the SSAT National Conference 2015

14 February 2016

@TeacherToolkit – Do we need lesson plans?

16 February 2016

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