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“Craft of the Classroom” – 40 tips to help you manage your classroom effectively June 17, 2012

Posted by IaninSheffield in Musings, Reading, Teaching Idea.
Tags: , , ,
The Craft of the Classroom

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo by ianguest: http://flickr.com/photos/ianinsheffield/7388684206/

A number of years ago (unfortunately where n>30) as I was awaiting the start of my PGCE, I opted to read one of the pre-course texts. It left a lasting impression on me and despite being a slim volume, became my touchstone as I worked through teacher training and the first few years as a newly qualified teacher. Michael Marland’s “The Craft of the Classroom” provides advice on strategies, techniques and resources for managing a classroom. In some ways dated (e.g. use of the overhead projector), even in the 1993 reprint, the advice nevertheless remains in many ways timeless. The book isn’t about learning theories and pedagogy, progression and performance, assessment and reporting; it’s about how to manage delicate balance of interactions between the teacher, students, resources and the classroom environment itself.

I revisited the book recently following a tweet asking for educational books which made an impact on us. Unable to track down my original, for a few pence on Amazon I picked up a used copy and pulled out forty points, each of which is expanded in greater detail in the book – you could do worse than to pick up a copy for the teachers’ reading shelf in school … which is where mine will now reside.


  • Be yourself
  • Learn your students’ names … quickly!
  • Use ‘duty’ time positively and proactively.
  • Aim to develop relationships with your students over the course of weeks, not minutes
  • Get involved in extra-curricular activities
  • Be consistent in all you do.
  • Praise publicly (when appropriate), privately (when appropriate) and via significant others (form tutor, pastoral leader, parents)
  • Avoid confrontations
  • Use humour when opportunities arise naturally.

Classroom Environment

  • Ensure your classroom (or the one you have just used) is left clean and tidy.
  • Report (and follow up) maintenance issues early.
  • Use display areas imaginatively and keep them fresh.
  • Think carefully about the position of the teachers desk to maximse your ability to orchestrate the classroom.
  • Consider how students’ desks should be arranged (but be aware that others may use the room after you)
  • Where students sit should be decided by you … though different groups may require different approaches
  • Make a seating plan … and use it proactively.

Records & registers

Your markbook (which might be digital) should record:

  • The students for whom you are responsible
  • Their attendance and punctuality
  • The work they undertook
  • Comments/notes about your students

and will help you in many ways including:

  • keeping track of student progress
  • writing interim and summative reports
  • communicating with parents

Conventions and routines

  • Whenever possible, be in the room first and receive the class proactively
  • Use your greeting to set the tone of the lesson
  • Consider carefully how you will accommodate late arrivals
  • Have a starter activity that students can undertake to start the lesson meaningfully, whilst initial business is completed (register etc)
  • Develop an ‘oversight’ through which you maintain a general awareness of everything taking place, especially when you are notionally involved in a 1-2-1.
  • Plan the last five minutes of the lesson meticulously to ensure a businesslike and timely close.
  • Develop an efficient system for collecting in and handing out work. Use other students where possible. (Seating plans can be very useful here)
  • Be systematic in the issuing and collecting of resources.
  • Follow school procedures for allowing students out of the room during lesson time
  • If the noise level becomes inappropriate for the task, address it through individual students rather than general exhortations to the class.
  • As you circulate around the room talking with students/groups, be aware of your position and field of view.
  • Where group work is called for consider carefully the composition of the groups – different curriculum aims and different students will require different arrangements.

The teacher’s performance

  • Consider your appearance and image you portray.
  • If you need to speak to the whole class, ensure everyone listens and hears. If the everyone doesn’t need to hear, don’t say it.
  • Position yourself in the room wisely.
  • Don’t speak until you have everyone’s complete attention.
  • The old adage ‘Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you’ve told them’ still has much merit.
  • When delivering instructions, be clear and firm, but pleasant, ensuring the instructions are slanted positively i.e. ‘Do’ rather than ‘Don’t.’
  • Using a board (white, black or interactive) requires forethought – why, what, when and how and where you are in relation to it.

There are also sections on Questioning techniques and lesson planning, neither of which I could adequately do justice to in a short phrase … another reason to acquire your own copy perhaps?

Though Michael left us in 2008, he also left behind a ‘bible’ or as he describes it, a ‘Survival Guide.’



1. tim moynihan - January 1, 2014

Should be required reading for all new teachers. Send Gove a copy too – the idiot has no idea.

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