Ask Brenda: Ten rules for classroom teachers

Written by: HTU | Published:

Our staff are “hit” with so many guidelines and actions to follow in the classroom. How can we focus the mind on the critical and yet make them smile and remember that the job is about enjoying and achieving as professionals as well?

How about trying to condense the requirements while focusing their minds on the enjoyment that is necessary to creating the right learning environment? Here are 10 rules to get you started.

  1. Ensure the safety of the children at all times. Are you in the right place at the right time to monitor the safety of all the children? Do you know what the system is if a child is hurt when you are on duty?
  2. Do lessons have pace and challenge? Do they move positively from listening to positive action? Do they learn and make progress? Are you prepared with reinforcement or extension activities? Is there clear evidence of the “enjoy and achieve” factor? Do they participate? Are they proud of their work? Is there evidence of ownership of learning?
  3. Assessment must be thorough. Tracking to show achievements linked to target-setting with pupils is essential. Booster intervention which is appropriately planned, delivered and regularly assessed for impact is vital. Does it stretch and challenge? When you check progress, if there is impact move on – if there is no impact try a new initiative and try and try again. Keep up with a timetable for profiling work throughout the year.
  4. Classroom organisation and management must be exemplary. The first impressions as visitors walk into your room counts. I am not talking about children’s work in progress, but about messy library shelves, a piled up teacher’s desk, children’s work waiting to be corrected etc. 
  5. Do displays celebrate work done in your classroom?
  6. Communicate. Learn with and from each other. No teacher can afford to be an island. If you need more support acknowledge this. Also communicate with parents. If the child is doing well, tell them. If the child needs more support tell them and ask for a partnership.
  7. Keep your professional portfolio up-to-date, with evidence of your impact against the Teacher’s Standards and your personal targets. This is about sharing and raising standards, sharing your good practice and learning from others, and ensuring that your performance management is robust and fair
  8. Discipline and school ethos. Is yours a caring discipline, showing intolerance of bad behaviour, linked to positive strategies which ensure good behaviour? Are you part of a whole-school strategy for good discipline or do you walk past an issue in a corridor because they are not your pupils?
  9. Role-modelling. What are your standards as regards dress, attitude, determination to succeed and never accepting second best? Are you willing to be a lifelong learner? How do you show this? Ensure the children learn from your example that learning is fun.
  10. Keep your sense of humour. If you enjoy the job you will be an inspirational teacher.
  • Brenda Bigland CBE is an education consultant, trainer and coach and a former primary school headteacher. Visit If you have a question that you would like Brenda to advise on, email Headteacher Update at

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