Monthly Archives: October 2014

Using questions to fuel personal teacher growth

The more you find out, the more questions it leads to. The more you know, the more you realise you don’t know. And by asking questions, the more we can engage in personal reflection and maintain a fresh, problem solving perspective on things.

So the challenge of the day is to see what childlike questions you can raise about yourself as a teacher and your practice to take a step back and look at things afresh. Again. It doesn’t matter if you think you know the answers to the questions, because each time you revisit them you are at a slightly different place and time than you were the last time you asked them.

Stay curious. Develop your own curiosity. It’s infectious. It will help you keep fresh in your own practice, and your curiosity will rub off on others: hopefully even your students!

Just do a free-writing 5 minute blast on a list of questions that come into your head about your own role as a teacher, your practice, and your students. You can do this in a blog, or a notebook… Anywhere! But the aim is to do it in an exploratory way, free-flowing, without aiming to finish it, without judgement… Just aim to think freely with the aim of looking at something from many different perspectives.

When you have your list of questions you can then set about reflecting on them. They could then be powerful catalysts for personal growth and development.

Here’s my list below. Feel free to add more questions in comments, or even reflect and leave comment on any responses to any of the questions you might have…

1) when do I feel most comfortable in the classroom?
2) what students, classrooms and activities allow me to feel most fully myself?
3) what is the one thing I could stop doing, or start doing, or do differently, starting on Monday morning that would improve the quality of my teaching?
4) what is my greatest teaching talent?
5) who are my most inspiring teacher role models?
6) how can I best help my students?
7) what is my greatest wish for my class?
8) how am I perceived by: my best students? My worst students? My colleagues and boss? My students’ parents?
9) what are the really good things about my role as a teacher?
10) what legacy would I like to leave as a teacher?

And some more teaching focused questions:

1) how does a teacher teach?
2) why do students learn?
3) why do students improve?
4) how does a lesson get taught?
5) how does learning slow down?
6) how does learning accelerate?
7) how much can students learn?
8) when do students stop learning?
9) how can a teacher learn to see and understand what’s going on in a student’s head?
10) what fuels good teaching?

Keep asking questions…


Recommended Reading for PGCE Module 1

What books would you recommend for the PGCE? Below is a list suggested for Module 1: “Preparing to Teach, Plus”. Please add any other good ones you’d recommend in the comments below.

Reading List – Preparing to Teach plus (FE & Skills)

Module Content

*Avis, J, Fisher, R & Thompson, R. (2009) Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector – a guide to theory and practice. Maidenhead: Open University Press

Bolton, G (2010) Reflective Practice – writing & professional development. 3rd Edition. London: Sage

Francis, M Gould, J (2009) Achieving your PTLLS Award, Sage

Gravells, A (2008) Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (Third Edition) Learning Matters

Gray, D. Griffin, C. Nasta, T. (2000) Training to Teach in Further and Adult Education. Cheltenham. Nelson Thornes

Inglelby, E, Joyce, D & Powell, S. (2010) Learning to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector. London: Continuum

O’Grady, A. (2013) Lifelong Learning in the UK, An introduction guide for Education Studies. Routledge

Petty, G. (2009). Teaching Today: A practical Guide Cheltenham. (Fourth Edition) Nelson Thornes.

Reece, I. Walker, S. (2007) Teaching, Training and Learning: A Practical Guide. (Sixth Edition). Sunderland. Business Education Publishers Ltd

*Scales, P. (2008). Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector. Berkshire. Open University Press

*Scales, P. (2012). Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector. 2nd Edition Berkshire. Open University Press

*Tummons, J (2007) Becoming a Professional Tutor in the Lifelong Learning Sector. Exeter: Learning Matters

Wallace, S. Ed (2010) Becoming a professional Tutor in the Lifelong Learning Sector. Exeter. Learning Matters Ltd.

Wallace, S. (2011). Teaching, Tutoring and Training in the Lifelong Learning Sector 4th Edition. Exeter. Learning Matters Ltd.

Wilson, L (2009) Practical Teaching, A guide to PTLLS and CTLLS. Cengage Learning


Cottrell, S (2008) The Study Skills Handbook, 3rd Edition. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan

*available as e-books