Teaching and Learning Principles

“I strongly believe that both teaching and learning should be joyful and effective.”
says Chris Lawrence.

The Learning Manager

The teacher should become a learning manager, whereby the pupils learn to teach themselves.

The teacher should not tell children to

“Learn your spellings!”
“Improve your handwriting!”
“Do something about your low marks!”

without giving them opportunities to learn how!

We all learn differently. Every child should have opportunities to discover how he learns best, a life long benefit skill.
Far too many children are kept in school for far too many years without finding out how they individually learn!

Learning should be fun

Lessons should be not too easy and not too hard.
Children should feel that the teacher likes them.
Children should feel that the day goes too quickly and should not find school time going too slowly.
They should never be bored! They should have opportunities to be quiet and reflective, and opportunities to be excited and active, but they should never bored.

Even on exciting days like fancy dress day, children need some time to be quiet and reflective, but not bored!

Children learn best with their bodies (kinaesthetic learning)

They learn by: doing, moving, rolling, jumping, crawling, shaking, running, building, stroking.
They learn in short bursts of energy with segments of calm. They learn up soft learning curves and assimilate along gentle learning plateaux.
They should not be expected to be glued sitting in a seat for hour after hour, but should have opportunities to move around, to stand whilst doing a task, to memorise whilst walking, talking or listening to music. Some people have to move to think. (Notice adults using cell phones!)

Children need physical things like fresh air and water!

Learners need fresh air.

In warm climates, move cupboards away from blocking air vents, and in cold climates open windows.

The brain consumes 20 to 25% of the oxygen you breathe, so make sure there is plenty of oxygen in the room! Being stressed allows less oxygen to the brain, being relaxed allows more oxygen to the brain. Confident children who are comfortable and at ease and so feel they are ultimately good in the classroom situation, learn far more efficiently than children who are anxious and frightened.

” You can beaver and beaver away at spellings and reading and behaving, but if they feel they are ultimately no good, you’re in a hide into to nothing situation!”  – Ray Rumsby, Norfolk Education Adviser.U.K


Learners need to have water to drink. Many children are dehydrated, yet brains need to be squidgy to learn.

Allow easy access to drinks. but NOT fizzy drinks! When I have asked teachers to allow children to have individual bottles of water beside them whilst they work, the negative teachers say, “But they will be forever asking to go to the bathroom!”
So I say, “Have you noticed how bladders seem to expand and cope when the person is really interested in something? It is usually only bored children who constantly ask to go to the bathroom!”

Teachers need to explore which learning styles work best with their pupils, using qualitative and quantitative measures. Then they realise that what works well for some children’s learning does not work so well for others.

“I have told that child eight times and she still does not understand!” complained one learned and very highly educated teacher to me.

“Yes Rosemary” I replied, “but, with respect, have you told her in eight different ways?”

Teaching needs passion

I have a passion for making teaching and learning more fun and more efficient. My passion makes me tired, yet never lets me find the work hard, as the rewards are invigorating. I try to inspire passion in teachers, showing them ways to make their job more interesting, more creative, more satisfying and rewarding. In inspiring a passion for teaching, I believe this will inspire pupils’ passion for learning. If I can inspire a passion for teaching in teachers and a passion for learning in pupils… …then teaching and learning could truly excel! YES!

Teaching needs Joy!

What is the opposite of joy?

  • dreariness
  • lethargy
  • lack of inspiration
  • lack of vitality
  • lack of care and consideration
  • negativity
  • apathy

If this is the case, we want joy and not joy‘s opposites in our classrooms!
You cannot teach a child well if you do not like him.
You can teach well if you show him you are pleased with him, if you praise his attempts and celebrate his achievements.
In taking up attitudes of joy, you are a role model to other pupils and teachers.
Through joy, you can promote respect, self value, enthusiasm and caring.
A teacher can show joy of teaching, a pupil can show joy of learning and teachers and pupils grow in teaching and learning together.
Some teachers mimic their own former teachers, standing aloof, patrolling the yard, seeking errors in children’s work to complain about this and that and never showing joy. Good teachers are not like this!
Good teachers are interested, involved and enthusiastic in what children do. Smile with joy and the children smile back….such a fantastic attitude to promote good teaching and learning.


Teaching needs creativity

Creativity is a process of having original ideas that have value.
Creativity is a gift of the human imagination.

To be creative, you have to be prepared to make mistakes. From those mistakes you can learn new things.
Too often we instill in children the idea that they should not make mistakes.
We say, “Do this right!”….. “No that’s wrong!”
We slash spelling errors with red ink lines and scribble illegible corrections over the top. Why? This does not accelerate learning. It impedes learning! A child who has an interesting word slashed with red ink because it is an incorrect spelling, uses an easier to spell and less interesting word next time. He avoids making spelling mistakes, but his writing development is quashed and his creativity and individuality is confined.

A fourteen year old Dominican student, whilst thinking about art and creative writing and trying to express his ideas in poetry, wrote the following:

Creating new things
Helping to express myself freely
In the way I feel
Defines who I am.

In Art, the brush goes in a way I can
It’s like I am in control.
With mistakes the brush makes me learn new things
I make a mistake, but it looks better.

In writing, the pencil goes in a way I can
It’s like I am in control.
With mistakes the pencil makes me learn new things.
I make a spelling mistake, but it sounds better.

The teacher has to be creative to provide an environment that promotes easy learning. The teacher needs to be creative in the way the classroom is arranged and, if there are limited resources, then the teacher needs to become more and more resourceful.

Display good work in a creative way

The classroom has to become a working environment and by that I don’t mean a place to work, but a space that actually works in a way that promotes teaching and learning, a place where the walls and display areas work as a reference for information, for spelling, for motivating and, just as importantly, a place where good work is displayed and celebrated in a creative way.

Teachers need to be collectors.. of things useful for the class.

They also need to be creative in the way they store these things. If something is hard to come by, they need to get the most out of it. All of the following things cost nothing, but can become richly creative resources:
Empty cartons can be turned inside out and reformed and labelled to use as storage containers pinned to the wall for work cards, pencils, paper. Store them inside each other when not in use. Charts made on the unprinted side of the pages of old calendars, can be zig zag folded to save ruling out lines and then stored zig zagged to take up less storage room.

Brown paper bags can be made into puppets, polystyrene white goods packaging into display boards, empty electrical flex spools into tuffets!

Click here for how to make a tuffet

Shoe boxes can be covered in gift wrap and made into picture libraries for teachers to choose illustrations for work cards and for children to refer to when doing descriptive writing.

“When I start to throw away a brown paper bag or a cornflake box or some cellophane, I think “Stop!” and I look and try to imagine how I can use this in the classroom!”

“When I see a broken branch, I imagine tying it from the classroom ceiling to hang children’s work from!”

“When I see a styrofoam/polystyrene box, I think “Pencil trays!”

“I remember bubble wrap makes good backing on a wall, or on a table to display books, a roll of scrunched brown paper can be rolled up a wall and split into sections across the ceiling to make a tree from which Fruit Poems on fruit shaped paper can be hung”

Teachers  need to be creative in the way they present lessons…

  • spending less time standing at the front trying to fill children’s brains with facts, but including:
  • more child activity,
  • more child talking,
  • more child chanting,
  • more child singing,
  • more acting out a situation,
  • more pictures and drawings
  • more creating of the type of lesson that holds the child’s attention.

This makes the learner:

  • more relaxed whatever his or her ability
  • more enthusiastic,
  • more self-confident,
  • more inspire.

Creative teachers have creative lessons, which accelerate learning by making it fun!

An amazing amount of energy is available to those who get pleasure from what they are doing, and the pleasure does not just come from completing a task, but often from the experiencing along the way. Wow!

And for your reflection, I have just come across these teaching tips. Do they sound familiar?

Decide on clear cut goals.
Break goals into sections so learner has clear path to get goal.
Trainer must be positive and happy when working.
Trainer rewards progress, ignoring mistakes and focusing on success.
In Seaworld’s philosophy, there are no bad orcas, only bad teachers!
When you pay half a million dollars for an orca, you learn to teach it!”

And finally, and probably most importantly, how do you know that a pupil has  learned something?

I asked my friend Dr. Marsha Slater-Ryder for her ideas and she said,

Real learning and understanding has occurred when the learner can:

  1. state it in his own words
  2. give examples of it
  3. recognise it in various guises and circumstances, in different appearances, likenesses, uses, contexts
  4. make use of it in various ways / apply it
  5. see connections between it and other fields or ideas
  6. foresee some of its consequences, see where it may lead, what effects it could have
  7. state its opposite or converse

Thank you Marsha.
I always enjoy sharing ideas on Principles of Teaching and Learning with you.

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