Outstanding lessons should, of course, have the ‘wow’ factor, and pupils who leave outstanding lessons should have a sense of excitement about the topic or subject and should be keen to find out more about the content of their lesson.
I would also argue that the ‘basic’ ingredients for a good or excellent lesson must be very much present in an outstanding lesson, and should have become habits for the pupils in the class, e.g. they know to expect a starter in every lesson, and know that there are high expectations for their behaviour and engagement in the lesson.
These are my views about some elements that contribute to making a lesson outstanding:
1. An engaging starter which will be on the desks when pupils arrive in the lesson – this will give them the sense that they will miss something interesting and important if they are late.
2. The pupils need to feel that they are your priority when they are in the lesson – are you standing up to greet them when they arrive? Are you drinking tea or coffee? Are you checking your emails? These can all suggest that you are thinking about other things and not 100% focused on the pupils.
3. Make sure that prep is relevant and clearly explained so that there is no room for confusions. Explain how the prep will help pupils to develop their knowledge and/or skills.
4. Your classroom resources should be of a high quality to show the pupils you care about the lesson and have thought about it, and also that you expect high quality of work from them.
5. Offer differentiated classroom tasks and prep tasks of varying challenge. You could select which pupils will do each task, or offer all pupils a choice.
6. Be clear, calm and consistent when dealing with classroom management issues. Use sanctions and rewards consistently.
I am leading a TeachMeet on ‘outstanding lessons’ this Friday (2nd February). I am really keen to know what your thoughts are on this. Please do add any comments (agreements or disagreements with my views!) to the blog, and/or come along on Friday, ready to share and discuss ideas.