Marginal gains teacher?

This is by no means a complete list of my personal targets for the year, but these are some of my key changes I am looking to make. I’ve based my goals on research and advice from the excellent practitioners I am blessed to work alongside. The focus is based on the aggregation of marginal gains, a concept closely connected with Dave Brailsford and Team Sky cycling. Here is Brailsford explaining it during the 2012 Olympics. 


On the advice of Shaun Alison and Andy Tharby I’m going to withhold saying the students name when I ask a question. There suggestion is to allow some wait time and then drop the name.I will adapt it a bit by picking those who I think are still not thinking, refuse to accept ‘I don’t know’ by giving pupils the phrase ‘I’m not sure but I think it could be.’

I will continue to use this grid to help students generate their own questions, and use Socratic circles, to assist their analysis.

And I intend to be kind to my future self by adding all quizzes to socrative. This way they can be used again next year. More importantly, the information I get about areas for development is more significant, and detailed.


After a year working as a cover teacher I have a vast array of resources. I also work in an unbelievable department who share all sort of excellent resources. This is not to say that I can put my feet up, but what I do have now is a huge bank to draw from before adapting. I find I’m a much better reviser than a generator, and perhaps more importantly I’m quicker at it. Lessons currently are taking me thirty minutes to plan and resource, a save of fifteen to thirty minutes. I’m using the extra time to mark more frequently and or rehearse modelling of the target skills.

I’m not sure if this is the best way to go about planning, but it seems to be working so far. My lessons seem to be going well, and I’m not planning in the evenings and only a little at the weekend.


I’m going to plan my marking into the lesson as recommended in the learning spy blog. For example I will only mark the key points of teaching. I will attach numbered statements to them and then model the common errors before the DIRT tasks begin. I’m not sure my feedback in books is always a strength, my hope is that my modelling-which is usually pretty good- will improve this and speed up my marking.

Also, I will ask pupils to leave their books open on the page they need marking. Mark in one colour pen, and buy them in bulk. I am also going to make greater use of verbal feedback, which by all accounts research seems to suggest is more effective. In order to evidence this I will ask students to summarise the chat before improving work.


I intend to cycle the thirty-five minute drive,to work. It takes a little over an hour to cycle, but I will get quicker and it replaces the gym. So I add fifty minutes to my day, but I remove an hour of gym. Ten minutes of credit! I also, save money on the car and the gym. Roughly £80 a month on the petrol, £20 on the gym,£ 300-400 on yearly random gypsum replacement tranqosmafying fingy ma-jigs for under the bonnet, tax, MOT, and insurance. I reckon I will be saving close to 2k, removing financial stresses and increasing my happiness. I just need to keep it up! Time spent worry about money can now become time spent improving my practice. 


I will order pre-cooked chicken and microwavable veg packs in bulk, take them at the start of the week and leave breakfast foods and protein bars at work. This may not be cost effective, but last minute choices are usually poor choices and so any preparation is better than poor diet.By improving my diet I believe I will increase my energy levels and overall happiness -this should allow me to deal with problems in the classroom in a consistent and efficient way.


How will I know if all of this has worked? Well, I intend to use my gut to inform me on the financial and health side of things. In terms of the classroom element,I intend to open my books up to experienced members of staff and ask for feedback; I will look at the students progress across the year and decide which elements to review next year based on their progress: this may be reductive but it is the best I have to hand.