Outstanding Teaching: Engaging Learners

By: Mark Burns , Andy Griffith


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 182mm x 222mm
Pages : 208
ISBN : 9781845907976
Format: Paperback
Published: August 2012

At the end of every week many teachers leave school exhausted. In an era when responsibility for exam results lies with them and not their students it's time to redress the balance so that students take more of the responsibility for their learning and progress. A class can be skilled and motivated to learn without a teacher always having to lead. Engaging learners in this way unpicks intrinsic motivation, the foundation that underpins a productive learning environment and helps to develop independent learning, creativity and improved behaviour management.

Based on five years of intensive research through Osiris Educational's award-winning Outstanding Teaching Intervention programme, during which the authors have trained more than 500 teachers to teach over 1,300 lessons in schools nationwide, this book is packed with proven advice and innovative tools developed in these successful outstanding lessons.

Written in the same humorous, thought-provoking style with which they both teach and train, Andy and Mark aim to challenge all who teach, from NQTs to seasoned professionals, to reflect on their day-to-day practice and set an agenda for sustainable teacher and leadership improvement.

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Shortlisted for the Education Resources Awards 2013, Educational Book Award category.

Click here to view the related paperback title Outstanding Teaching: Teaching Backwards, £14.99.

Picture for author Mark Burns

Mark Burns

For over ten years, Mark Burns has developed a proven track record in developing teaching and leadership in education. He has co-authored two bestselling books in this field – Engaging Learners and Teaching Backwards – and, more recently, has worked with FTSE 100 retailers and third sector organisations too.

Through his work, Mark has developed a deep understanding of learning design and how to overcome the barriers to learning in organisations – which is the focus of his award-winning co-authored book The Learning Imperative. He is passionate about supporting the development of performance through effective learning, hence his company’s name: Plus One Learning.

Mark’s work has been recognised with a Gold award in the People Development Programme of the Year – Public Sector category at the prestigious Learning Performance Institute Learning Awards 2021. He also won the CPD category in the Teach Secondary Awards 2020.

Click here to read Mark Burns' blog.

Picture for author Andy Griffith

Andy Griffith

Andy Griffith has a proven track record for creating high impact training courses and interventions with students, teachers and leaders. His major career motivation is for education to be an engine for social justice. In the past seven years, alongside his school development work, Andy has developed programmes for students that have had a positive impact on their academic results as well as building their cultural capital.

Andy's work has been shortlisted in the Best Learning & Development Initiative - Public/Third Sector category of the 2018 CIPD People Management Awards.


  1. Outstanding Teaching: Engaging learners is great. I will be using it within the development of teachers of English and maths resit students in particular, as these are the learners who are missing the motivation.

  2. "Outstanding Teaching, Engaging Learners” is an accessible book, written in quite an informal style and with an encouraging tone. The authors put forward the concept of -˜flow' as being the way to engage learners. This is defined in the first chapter as -˜being completely involved in an activity for its own sake-¦-¦-¦Your whole being is involved and you are using your skills to the utmost'. They state the six foundations of -˜flow':
    - Tasks are appropriately challenging
    - Teacher input is minimal
    - Students must have the necessary learning skills
    - Goals are clear and worthwhile
    - Tasks are intrinsically motivating
    The reader is directed to the chapters, which cover these concepts.
    The rest of the book describes the teaching methods needed to achieve high levels of student engagement and gives numerous examples of activities to support them. Real life observations that the authors have made of teachers using these methods, allows the reader to more fully understand what can be done.
    One of the main themes of the book is that teacher input should be minimal and much of the learning should be collaborative. The authors not only give guidance as to how a collaborative lesson should be organised but they also make it clear that time should be spent at the beginning of an academic year where the teacher lays down some -˜ground-rules'. They call this stage, -˜contain' and it -˜establishes positive norms that the teacher wants to see in his or her classroom'. These will -˜grow and become embedded over time'. This will probably be the time where teacher input is at its highest. Standards of behaviour, such as turn taking, are established and also strategies which can be referred to time and time again. An example is a class mantra such as:
    Teacher: Mistakes are what?
    Class: Our friends.
    Teacher: Because-¦-¦.?
    The activities which allow for collaborative learning are described in detail and the rationale behind them is made clear. For example, students often need a lot of repetitive practice before a piece of learning is automatic. The Learning Grid gives plenty of opportunities for this to be done in a -˜disguised' way and thus preventing the task from becoming dull and non-engaging. When discussing the Learning Grids, and other activities the authors show how they can be differentiated.
    I have read this book, not as a practising classroom teacher but as a CPD course developer and trainer for Dyslexia Action. Learners with dyslexia and co-occurring difficulties often have problems with concentration and can all too easily become disengaged. -˜Learned helplessness' is quite common. In many ways there is a similar approach to teaching to the one we advocate for the participants on our courses. We would wish for learners with dyslexia to be in classroom where collaborative learning is taking place and where students feel that they can meet challenges (at the appropriate level) and take risks and receive positive and immediate feedback from teachers and peers. Opportunities for over-learning and the kind of repetitive practice that such activities as the Learning Grid can provide are essential for learners with dyslexia.
    We already use some of the activities described in the book and it is good to have so many more.
    I will be happy to recommend this book to Dyslexia Action.
  3. Griffith and Burns take your teaching on a journey. As well as offering superb advice and practical ideas, this book will encourage you to turn the microscope onto your own teaching and learning approaches and guide you to an incredible level of reflection.
  4. Books in education tend to be dry, academic tomes or full of anecdotes usually premised on “do what I did”. Outstanding Teaching is neither -” it is based on a rich analysis of thousands of videos of successful teachers, is imbued with a sense of fun, but has some very serious messages.
    What a treat -” Outstanding Teaching, is an engaging book emphasising the core qualities of teaching while making it sound fun. Griffith and Burns emphasise the Big Four; Challenge, Autonomy (but they mean students having the space in classrooms to learn), Feedback (to teachers), and Engagement (full absorption in learning). To link these, they use the notion of flow, which requires that the tasks are appropriately challenging, teacher input is minimal, the class have the necessary learning skills, success criteria or goals are clear and worthwhile, feedback is immediate, and tasks are intrinsically motivating. These are among the top influences that I also found in my synthesis of meta-analyses.
    Many have become upset with my own comments about the power of teacher quality, so if only they read this book to see what quality looks and feels like. They spare no punches about what is in the power of teachers: not only the choice of curricula but the management of classrooms, the skill of listening not speaking, the placing of student learning at the centre, receiving feedback about their impact, and taking responsibility for triggering engagement by students in learning -” whilst enjoying it all. They emphasise rapport, imagination, competence, choice, curiosity, relevance, challenge, and fun. [With two exceptions I agree (I see little evidence supporting student choice -” teachers need to lead in progressing students upwards in their learning and not leave it to students otherwise the rich can get richer and the poor stay poor) and would argue that some of these triggers come from being successfully engaged (not as precursors to successful engagement).]
    I understand Outstanding Teaching is the first book in the planned Outstanding Teaching series -” bring -˜em on.

  5. The magic of this book is the motivational way in which it is written. Teachers cannot fail to be engaged by its down-to-earth style. The instant classroom tips which professionals can gain are evident on each and every page. I especially liked the FAQ sections and the direct links to additional information in each chapter. All teachers want to motivate, inspire and challenge young people. This book provides tips and skills to enhance every teacher's classroom practice. A great and practical read!

  6. Steeped in the real-world exigencies of classroom life, yet also respectful of the theoretical models that underpin high-quality learning, this is an admirable book. Being much more than another compendium of engaging lesson ideas, Outstanding Teaching relates these hands-on ideas to a conceptually neat framework for promoting outstanding teaching and learning. Joe Renzulli taught us that hands-on needn't mean brains-off, and it certainly doesn't here. The authors have distilled their years of experience in and around classrooms into an easily-accessible and usable text. When motivation meets empowerment, shift happens. This book will generate shift.
  7. Outstanding Teaching reflects Andy and Mark's views that all teachers can be enabled to improve with the right support and guidance that is tied to clear criteria that allows them to see how to move forward. The strength of the book comes from the number of strategies that are included, alongside real-life examples that can support classroom teachers in engaging students. To learn, students have to be engaged -” this book gives a route map of what engagement is, what it looks like and the strategies needed to achieve it. Teachers need to do this before anything else, such as learning and progress, can happen in classrooms -” this is what makes this book a valuable tool to classroom teachers.
  8. Cutting through the complexities of the classroom with a well-evidenced and researched set of level performance descriptors (ones which Ofsted would do well to look at), Andy Griffith and Mark Burns provide themselves with a platform on which the rest of the book is based. Each chapter offers an appropriate balance of research and practical tips, meaning that not only are you working with ideas that generate outstanding learning in the classroom, but that you will also understand why they work -” so you can go on and develop more ideas yourself. The encouragement given to reflect on your own performance as a teacher is well supported with numerous techniques and strategies, with the reader getting a sense that the authors have benefited themselves from reflection in their own classroom and therefore are justifiably passionate about how this helps achieve excellence. And it is that commitment to excellence that perhaps is the overriding tone of the book. So whilst the authors point out that there are no money-back guarantees if outstanding learning is not the outcome as a result of reading this book, I doubt very much that anyone will need a refund. Quite the opposite. They will be recommending it to a colleague. Just like I have.

  9. There are many outstanding teachers ... and some of them are recognised. Most teachers would seek to be the best they can in order to help the pupils that they teach become the learners we would want them to be. This book will help teachers to bring together the art, the science and the craft of teaching. Andy and Mark have managed to distil the work they do alongside teachers on their course programmes into print in a way that is readable and practical: no mean achievement! It is a book full of suggestions, ideas and techniques which are grounded in a coherent outlook on what makes outstanding teaching. It will help with inspection ... and it is much more. Reading this book will shed light on the work we do in classrooms and the way we engage with youngsters -” and will also make us think about the very purpose of teaching.

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