Watching yourself teach can be an excruciating process, but video is one of the best tools we have for teacher development. Here’s how to make it work.

When I first watched a recorded lesson of myself back it was, shall we say, an illuminating experience. I couldn’t quite get over the expressions I inexplicably pulled and the strange things I said. Why am I speaking so fast? Why am I pacing around? Why do I keep touching my face? Surely these things distract the class more than help them…? It was more than a little gruelling… but I don’t think we should expect otherwise. …


Scripting is useful for new teachers getting to grips with staged, clear instructions and solidifying classroom routines. But it’s also fruitful in pushing experienced teachers, who may be looking to improve the way they explain a complex concept or expertly cohere different strands of knowledge in a pivotal moment in a lesson. As we look to build a really strong culture across our school, scripting can also be useful in generating consistent and positive responses to children and help all teachers model the interactions we want to see from students.

What is — and isn’t — scripting?

Scripting asks teachers to jot down exactly what they’re going…


This lesson section would come after reading and discussing Langston Hughes’s ‘A Love Song for Lucinda’ and the script below follows what I would say to a Y9 class to aid them craft personal thesis statement introductions based on this poem. For my post which explains how scripts can be used in teacher development, please see here.

“I’m going to explain something important to you now, so it’s essential that you sit up straight, keep your eyes on me and focus on listening really carefully. …


The story of a year

A little over a year ago, I had a vision for reading in my school. Inspired by the incredible work of Fiona Ritson, Alice Visser-Furay and Alex Quigley, I knew that we would have to be relentless in our aims, but that the results would make it worth it. Despite the enormous challenges of the past twelve months, we’ve come a long way. This post outlines the main steps we’ve taken in the hopes that it might serve as a guide for other schools interested in changing their reading culture.

A new library

Our old library was no longer fit for purpose. Crumbly…


The Early Career Framework has the potential to transform the experience of new teachers, and ultimately the whole educational landscape. It can help us all get better.

Since I first heard whispers of the Early Career Framework a few years ago, I’ve been incredibly excited by it. This is exactly what education needs, I thought, a carefully sequenced teacher-curriculum that breaks down core knowledge all teachers need to develop and asks them to deliberately practice each element until it is mastered. Fantastic!

You only need to take a glance at the dreadful teacher retention statistics to know something has to change. …


There’s likely to be a flurry of remote teaching blog posts over the coming days and weeks, and I sincerely hope so. Since last March, we’ve never had to learn such a complex new way of working such a short amount of time. But as a profession, we have learned a huge amount, and I’m sure I won’t be the only one to say that my early remote lessons bear very little resemblance to what I plan to be using in the upcoming weeks.

This post outlines what I think are the most important things to remember when teaching children…


January 2021

Teachers don’t do well with uncertainty. There’s something about the reassuring ring of the bell that tells us everything is in its place. The comforting hug of routine keeps us safe and secure. The tidal rhythms of each half-term are calming in their familiarity.

So there’s nothing quite like the ‘unprecedented times’ of global pandemic to whip the rug from our feet and make us feel lost.

I’ve found it particularly hard to shift gears between normality and extraordinary times. From March to July, everything was different. But September lulled us into a false sense of security. Exams were firmly…


Ten short stories to sooth and enlighten, by Elisabeth Bowling and Edward Hancox.

Italo Calvino, Zadie Smith, Alexia Arthurs, Rudyard Kipling, Haruki Murakami, Alice Munro, William Faulkner

Before this year, I was never much of a fan of short stories. I found them unsatisfying, dense, too brief to provoke an emotional response or stay in my memory for any amount of time. But about six months ago, I started to find long fiction draining — no doubt in response to the looming uncertainty of unusual times. I found it impossible to focus on novels and lose myself in their twisting narratives and cast of characters. Suddenly, short stories seemed more palatable.

So in March, three friends and I resolved to read and discuss one short story per…


We all recognise that effective writing, reading and speaking skills are absolutely vital for the pupils we teach. So this blog, based on my talk at ResearchEd Norwich, focuses on that very complex but very important process of writing. I’ve written about it a little before when I discussed academic writing in English essays, but here I widen the scope to look at accurate and cohesive writing across school subjects.

The recorded version is available here.

The importance of writing

We know that clear and confident written expression is key to both academic success and success in later life…


I was privileged to speak about middle leadership as part of this year’s ResearchEd Birmingham. It’s a topic close to my heart: with almost six years of being a middle leader across three different schools, I’m now preparing to step away from leading a department. I’m excited about new challenges in senior leadership, but the change in role is certainly bittersweet. I’ll miss the rigour and close-knit teamwork of being a middle leader.

This blog is a condensed version of my ResearchEd presentation, and it focuses on what I believe are the important aspects of middle leadership: leading from domain…

Elisabeth Bowling: A Wild Surmise

Considering education, schools and books. Elisabeth Bowling, Assistant Principal and Head of English. I tweet at @elucymay.

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