Education Endowment Foundation:EEF blog: Five teacher habits for a new school year

EEF blog: Five teacher habits for a new school year

A useful starting point for schools seeking to develop powerful new teacher habits.
Hannah Heron
Hannah Heron
Content Specialist for Learning Behaviours

Hannah Heron, learning behaviours content specialist alumna and education director at the CLIC trust, considers a new school year and new habits.

Blog •2 minutes •
LB Pentagon child

The start of a new school year brings with it the opportunity to deliberately build new habits into our teaching practice to improve learning in our classrooms. As I return to school this September, my focus is on strategies to develop pupils’ independent learning behaviours. To be clear, this is more than managing classroom behaviour.

Ellis and Todd define learning behaviours as:

What do effective learning behaviours look like?

When pupils display effective learning behaviours, they demonstrate motivation and resilience when faced with an independent learning task. They show an awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses, applying this knowledge of self to different learning contexts. They are able to regulate and express their emotions.

Five teacher habits that support effective learning behaviours:

1. Build questions into teaching that prompt pupils to plan, monitor and evaluate their learning

For many pupils becoming a self-regulated learner does not happen automatically. Asking questions that actively prompt pupils to plan, monitor and evaluate their learning can, over time, help them to build towards greater independence.

2. Use a think aloud’ to model how expert learners manage and apply their knowledge of self

Modelling self-knowledge, using strategies such as a think aloud can provide opportunities to scaffold social and emotional learning (SEL) skills. At the same time, it allows us to demonstrate how to draw on our understanding of ourselves as learners in order to effectively plan, monitor and evaluate our approach to a learning task.

3. Model how to complete a task before asking pupils to complete it independently.

Taking the time to model the actions of an expert learner as part of a learning sequence can support pupils to be successful. This may require planning, scripting and rehearsing.

4. Weave Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) habits into your existing routine.

When implemented well, SEL strategies can have positive impacts on a range of outcomes, including pupils’ attitudes, behaviours, and relationships with peers. Hooking opportunities to develop pupils’ SEL skills into existing routines can help make space for supporting SEL across the school day. See the blog below for examples of this.

5. Build relationships through greeting pupils individually.

Building relationships with pupils and their families is critical to supporting them in developing effective learning behaviours. Greeting pupils at the door is a way to signal to children that we value them whilst enabling us to assess how pupils are as they come into the classroom and to respond appropriately.

Carefully chosen, rehearsed habits may be a useful starting point for schools seeking to develop powerful new teacher habits. As with all habits, prompting, reminding and providing opportunities to practice will be crucial.