This has been the problem that has been getting to me recently. The teachers I admire explain things well. Really well. Far better than me well. I have been considering what makes their explanations so good. I have a few things but haven’t nailed it down yet:

  • Economy of language. Omit unnecessary words, asides or pontification.
  • Explain the misconceptions explicitly and with an example. Do not wait until half the class have bumped into a misconception before addressing it. But this needs to be balanced against the time required for adequate practice.
  • Stress the important bits and only the important bits.
  • Give the pupils a memory trick – my old HoD Mr Dawkins telling Y11 “do not eat the pi” will stick with me for a good while – something they can come back to. Make this an explicit memory trick and not a substitute for understanding. Do not supply it until the understanding has been reached.
  • Do not give up on the understanding. Come back to it again, again and again.

I want more time to plan my explanations and can find it. At the moment I feel like the success of my explanations is as much down to luck as any preparation I am putting in.

Any advice anyone?