Back to School Tips: James Clements

We asked James Clements for his top back to school tips, and here’s what he said. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re an old hand, or you’re getting to know your very first class!

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  • Never turn down the opportunity to eat, drink or go to the loo. As a teacher, you never know when you’ll get the opportunity again.
  • Younger children are always ‘lively’ on windy days. It is one of the unwritten laws of teaching. Check the weather forecast on the way to work and plan accordingly.

Tips for experienced teachers

  • Spend as much time planning the questions you’re going to ask as you can. Rich, deep questions can drive both classroom discussion and learning.
  • Teaching is an all-consuming job, but try to give yourself some time off when you need it. A rested teacher is going to be more effective than an exhausted one with perfect planning.
  • Savour the time at the start of the year when all of the glue sticks have their lids. It won’t last long.

Are you an NQT? Tips just for you!

  • If it’s too loud in your classroom, don’t shout. Try dropping your voice to a whisper to get the children’s attention. After all, it works for villains in Bond films.
  • Don’t plan your lessons too far ahead. You’ll need to make changes to what you teach based on your ongoing assessments.
  • Some children like to be praised publicly, some prefer a quiet word in their ear, but they all like to hear a positive sometimes.

James Clements is a member of the Advisory Board for Oxford Owl, Oxford Primary’s online school improvement service. He has worked as a teacher and senior leader in an outstanding inner city primary school, as a Local Authority Lead Teacher, and was consulted on the New National Curriculum for English. James is now an English adviser and the creative director of Shakespeare and More, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes effective English teaching.
Follow James on Twitter @James_ShMore