Tips for Teachers, by Craig Barton
What is the book about?
In Tips for Teachers, Craig Barton, a Maths teacher and TES advisor of 10 years, presents 400+ ideas on how to make teaching more effective. He carefully curated each idea to help teachers eliminate barriers to learning and create a classroom culture that maximises improvement.
Why read this book?
With so many books on effective teaching on the market today, it can be overwhelming for teachers to decide which one to read. But Tips for Teachers is a great option, as it is detailed yet comprehensive. It explores highly specific strategies covering many aspects of teaching, including lesson planning, student engagement and marking homework.
Craig Barton also draws on numerous research studies and combines them with the experiences of educational heavyweights, talented teachers and his own practice to create this practical guide. This means the book is ultimately a collection of the best advice from teachers and psychologists around the world, making it an excellent read for teacher development.
Who is this book for?
The hint is in the name: the book is made for teachers. Teachers of all levels will find practical insights in this book due to the in-depth explanations and variety of tips offered. This allows them to bring the best ideas into their classrooms, making learning more effective and enjoyable for students.
Tips for Teachers draws on a range of evidence sources, all thoroughly referenced at the end of the book. You will also find QR codes at the end of each tip, allowing you to view relevant research papers and gain a deeper understanding of how to apply the tips. in your classroom.
Not only does this book contain an extensive range of literature, but it also includes invaluable wisdom from Craig Barton and a diverse network of educators. It’s often difficult to find a good balance between research and personality – Barton has perfected this.
Coming in at almost 600 pages long, Tips for Teachers may seem intimidating to navigate. However, Craig Barton has made it easy to follow by dividing it into 11 themed chapters, each focusing on a specific area of teaching:
- Habits and routines talks about how teachers can cultivate classroom norms and routines to ensure a productive learning environment.
- The means of participation explores the various means of participation and explains how these can be one of the simplest ways to boost student engagement and learning.
- Checking for understanding delves into the different ways to check for student understanding and why wait times are essential for questioning.
- Responsive teaching explains how teachers can effectively respond to the various responses from students, including the classic “I don’t know”.
- Planning discusses how teachers can establish a reliable process to create solid lesson plans.
- Prior knowledge describes how to identify, prioritise and assess relevant prior knowledge of students to prepare for teaching new ideas.
- Explanations, modelling and worked examples focuses on how to introduce, explain and model new concepts to students.
- Student practice digs into how teachers can aid students’ independent study to be as effective as possible.
- Memory and retrieval explains how teachers can help their students understand some of the key research on memory and retrieval to maximise their engagement in class and the effectiveness of their study.
- Homework, marking and feedback informs teachers on how to give more effective homework and feedback to boost student learning.
- Improving as a teacher looks into the general principles that help teachers continuously improve.
At the beginning of each chapter, Craig Barton presents a flow diagram of the tips to follow. Although logically ordered, most of the tips are standalone, so readers can dip in and out and focus on the ones that interest them.
To make it easy for teachers to implement the tips into their classes, Craig Barton includes specific examples demonstrating their use in practice. He complements this with QR codes for extended resources including applicable research papers, videos, tools and websites. These allow readers to take a deeper dive into each of the tips and share these with colleagues, subsequently helping more students to benefit from these strategies in the long run.
To ensure teachers don’t get lost and overwhelmed, Craig Barton ends each tip with his “tip in a sentence”, providing the general idea at a glance. He also includes regular opportunities for reflection through the “Over to you” and “What do you think?” sections in each chapter. These allow educators to consider embedding the tips within their own practice and adapting them to work for their specific teaching context. We think these features are a genius addition to the book.
One chapter of the book which sets Tips for Teachers apart is “Responsive Teaching”. With a variety of innovative strategies on how to deal with unresponsive students in class, it features a range of graphics and charts. One example is the “decision tree” that illustrates how teachers can act based on students’ responses. Another is the “Recording our thinking” template that teachers can give students to promote their critical thinking when responding to a question.
Value for money
Considering the number of practical teaching tips and resources the readers walk away with, this book is well worth its £20 price tag. It also includes direct access to videos and reading lists that can further aid teaching.
Why we love this book
- The tips are all realistic, practical and high impact.
- It contains a variety of graphics and resource templates for direct usage.
- It provides a well-rounded view that blends scientific evidence with anecdotes of teacher experiences.
- The format is clear and easy to navigate.
- QR codes throughout point to many more helpful resources.
Using a variety of experiences and sound research-driven advice, Craig Barton has created a go-to guide for effective teacher development. From the tips drawn directly from research to the helpful and engaging anecdotes, we are sure that every educator will benefit from reading Tips for Teachers.
Other books you might like
If you have already read this book or are looking to expand your knowledge of teaching practices further, we recommend reading:
- Teaching & Learning Illuminated: The Big Ideas, Illustrated, by Bradley Busch, Edward Watson & Ludmila Bogatchek
- How Learning Happens, by Paul A Kirschner & Carl Hendrick
- Why Don’t Students Like School? A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom, by Daniel Willingham
- Dual Coding with Teachers, also written by Oliver Caviglioli; you can read our review of that book here.
Want to read further about how you can make positive changes to your classroom? Then check out our blogs – here are a few suggestions to get you started: