Best Practice

Quality first teaching: Six features of excellent explanations

Teaching is explaining. But how do we explain effectively? Robbie Burns draws on research evidence and best practice and distils them into the six principles of excellent explanations
Image: Adobe Stock -

Part way through my first year in the classroom, I taught a maths lesson on equivalent fractions. I gave my pupils a starter task to see what they knew, which turned out to be nothing at all, then explained what I wanted them to know. Or so I thought. As soon as I had finished, I asked: “So, has everybody got that?”

Silence. Then, one of my quite frustrating but exceptionally bright pupils raised her hand and waited for me to acknowledge her.

“Sir, you know all the stuff you just said about whatever you’re talking about? I didn’t get a word. You could have just said it in Spanish!”

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