Teach Like You Imagined It

Finding the right balance

By: Kevin Lister

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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 222 x 182mm
Pages : 176
ISBN : 9781785834004
Format: Paperback
Published: June 2019

Kevin Lister’s Teach Like You Imagined It: Finding the right balance shares a wealth of tools, ideas and encouragement to help teachers manage the conflicting pressures of teaching and become the educators they imagined.

Teaching is an incredible profession, but it also comes with a potentially toxic workload. You do not have to put up with burn-out, however – and one way to avoid it is to return to how you imagined teaching to be in the first place.

Before you became a teacher, you pictured yourself as a teacher; in your imagination you almost certainly saw yourself as happy, efficient and able to manage your work–life balance effectively. Yet chances are that the reality of teaching is a little different, and it is this disconnect that can give rise to stress, anxiety and frustration.

But what if you could use simple strategies to get a handle on your schedule and take control of your workload?

Covering lesson planning, behaviour management, the streamlining of marking and getting the best out of CPD, Kevin Lister has drawn on his background in engineering to fill this book with trusted techniques and savvy suggestions to help you maximise your productivity and teach like you imagined it.

Each chapter examines a different aspect of the day-to-day reality of teaching and suggests alternative, practical ways to look at or approach common tasks. Throughout the book Kevin touches on topics such as time management, prioritisation, educational research, leadership, psychology and other diverse concepts that his personal experiences and education have led him to explore. After each area of discussion there are prompts for action, where Kevin asks you to reflect on your working habits, question your practices and decide what you will do in response.

Suitable for both new and experienced teachers looking to boost their day-to-day efficiency and find the right balance.

Picture for author Kevin Lister

Kevin Lister

After spending the early part of his career in engineering and project management, Kevin Lister retrained as a teacher in 2009 and has never looked back – moving rapidly through various posts to his current role as senior assistant head teacher at an academy in Warwickshire. Over the last several years, Kevin has contributed to international forums, presented at and organised TeachMeets and delivered training days both for his own school and for a wider audience.

'NQT Special: How to get your work/life balance right as an NQT-

Click here to read Kevin Lister's blog.


  1. Teach Like You Imagined It is very well written and presented and communicates well in a way that new or trainee teachers can take on board.

    It refers to key theory and research so has academic credibility too.

    I will be recommending it widely.
  2. Kevin Lister has written an easily read text for teachers and support staff with the emphasis on his personal insight based on a wide range of experiences within schools and as an engineer. He addresses the realities of teacher wastage in that many staff face high degrees of stress and heavy term time workloads and are expected to “get on with it” resulting in many leaving the profession. The author acknowledges that he doesn't claim to have the answers or recipes for solving all situations however he stimulates reader's thought processes by discussing key areas of leadership skills and time management from a personal standpoint.

    I particularly gained from the sections on improving personal skills to make effective use of technology, protocols for e-mail usage, sharing ideas, marking and feedback that impacts upon students learning and action to make lessons memorable. It was interesting how he links his ideas on lesson planning to his industrial experience in particular the Deming cycle of PDSA (Plan, do, study, act) as a loop. Readers will gain from reading his comments on pointless marking and his RAG123 framework where students rate aspects of their work in terms of effort and understanding, in their efforts to promote engagement, motivation, aspirations and performance levels

    The author's sections on strategies and systems to manage behavioural issues and develop a good life balance both address key issues impacting upon teacher effectiveness Teachers new to the profession and those seeking ideas to improve their work life balance will find this book very useful
  3. Too often the discourse on teacher workload and wellbeing has focused on the symptoms and causes rather than the solutions. Kevin Lister's Teach Like You Imagined It reverses this by reflecting on the reasons why people join the teaching profession, why it is such an “awesome” and exciting career, what we can control, and why all of this is so vitally important for future generations.

    Drawing honestly and with humility on his extensive experience as a teacher and school leader and on his previous roles in the engineering industry, Kevin forensically analyses specific aspects of being a teacher in order to help readers “reconnect with the teacher they imagined they would be” and manage their wellbeing and workload more effectively.

    This excellent book contains a wealth of practical advice, thus providing a blueprint for teachers and school leaders to take back ownership of their professional and personal lives in the interests of the young people they serve. I wholeheartedly recommend it to teachers and school leaders.
  4. What's unique about Teach Like You Imagined It is that it looks at teaching and workload through the lens of maximising efficiency and minimising waste, analogous to the processes on a car production line. Kevin questions the efficiency of “going the extra mile” - particularly when the race to be an outstanding teacher/department/school means this has somehow become the norm - and challenges you to choose what you do wisely and focus on making every hour count.

    Each chapter is full of common sense, insight, relevant research and straight talking, which leads to genuine prompts to bring us closer to being the teacher we imagined, and sends a clear message that we can take control of our workload and be happier, healthier and better at our jobs as a result.

    This excellent and accessible book will support and challenge teachers to become better educators without sacrificing the life they lead outside the school gates. With a retention and recruitment crisis across the UK, Teach Like You Imagined It is important reading for teachers and school leaders alike.
  5. I have long believed that every good teacher is committed to becoming an even better teacher, and in Teach Like You Imagined It Kevin Lister offers advice to everyone - at any stage of their career - for whom this is true. He encourages teachers to explore how they can identify specific areas for improvement, build on their strengths and develop those areas in which they are less competent and confident through reflection, specific action and, crucially, a determination to work more efficiently.

    Kevin emphasises that a teacher's professional aspirations have to be balanced against their personal commitments so that their efforts are sustainable - as successful teaching and leadership should not be achieved at the expense of one's health or personal life. He encourages educators to consider how they can challenge some of their habits so that they become more effective while finding a balance that works for them. Kevin also offers specific, practical advice about how to prioritise, plan and structure work to best effect, and his prompts for action will encourage teachers to consider what habit changes might help them improve the efficiency and the success of what they do in the classroom and in their leadership.

    While he accepts that the profession needs to exert what pressure it can to address those externally imposed factors which can make teachers' work draining, at the same time he exhorts educators to consider the agency they have and to strive to use it positively. This is such an important message, and Kevin's advice is balanced and sensible - grounded in his own practice, in his reflections from the front line of teaching and in his experience as a senior leader.

    Teach Like You Imagined It will be useful to classroom practitioners and school leaders in challenging and supporting them on their journey to becoming the teachers and leaders they dream of being.
  6. Kevin Lister is clearly a man of considerable experience and wisdom. The personal reflections he shares in Teach Like You Imagined It are excellent, built as they are on his very evident passion for teaching - which adds huge authenticity to what he writes. The guidance Kevin provides is all so perceptive and practical too, making the book an insightful and helpful resource for teachers.
  7. We all have a unique backstory, and when this background is filtered into current practice it can produce some really fascinating insights. This is the case with Kevin Lister. With a professional background in engineering, Kevin has some very interesting and pertinent questions to ask about efficiency and lean organisations - and in Teach Like You Imagined It he provides plenty to think about when it comes to refining our practice.

    A really enjoyable and accessible read.
  8. What Kevin Lister brings in Teach Like You Imagined It is the analytical mind of an engineer to the teaching profession. His career in the car industry prior to entering the teaching profession enables him to view educational challenges through a different prism to most, and in this thought-provoking book he rallies teachers to work more effectively and achieve successful longevity in the profession.

    The eyes of an engineer question the cost-benefit analysis of going the -˜extra mile', now specifically lauded in the new Ofsted framework, in working long hours beyond reasonable expectation - noting that in education there is rarely any evaluation of the cost of a task because it usually only costs the time of those involved. Kevin rightly articulates there is a tipping point beyond which more teacher effort does not necessarily translate into more student progress, and he applies the law of diminishing returns to suggest that going the extra mile may be no more effective than going the extra inch. This is followed by specific guidance on how to prioritise what to do now, do next, do last and what not to do.

    The delicious irony of the teaching profession is that teachers are often good at advising students on how to spend their time, yet they are not so good themselves at practising what they preach. The challenge set out loud and clear in this book is to take back control and plan what you do - most notably how you choose to allocate your precious time to make teaching an enjoyable, impactful and ultimately sustainable job!

    Teach Like You Imagined It offers a timely reminder of why you became a teacher and will help you rediscover, nurture and make use of that passion and enthusiasm.

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