Teacher in the Cupboard

Self-reflective, solution-focused teaching and learning

By: Lisa Jane Ashes


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 222 x 182mm
Pages : 208
ISBN : 9781781352960
Format: Paperback
Published: February 2019

In Teacher in the Cupboard: Self-reflective, solution-focused teaching and learning, Lisa Jane Ashes takes educators on a self-reflective journey that will inspire them to challenge the ‘how to’, tick-box approach to teaching.

Even if all the problems in your classroom have been solved by the time you read this, plenty more would surface to take their place … And while each problem has multiple solutions, you’ll need your creativity in order to find them.

In this book, Lisa explores how spending time ‘in the cupboard’ – a metaphor for removing yourself from a situation and seeing it through a more objective lens – can help teachers come up with creative solutions to everyday challenges and positively transform their classroom practice and human interactions.

Teacher in the Cupboard encompasses Lisa’s many and varied observations in education – and each chapter includes real-life experiences to make you think, as well as practical techniques to help educators avoid retreating into self-blindness: a common affliction that robs them of their perception of their own contribution as part of the teaching and learning process.

Brimming with fresh perspectives, the book presents a wide range of innovative ideas to enable educators to harness the power of self-reflection and create a stimulating learning environment that produces excellent results for them, their students and their colleagues. It also talks teachers through a number of methods, approaches and resources that will enable them to instil in their learners a sense of satisfaction derived from the learning skills and behaviours being developed in the classroom. These materials are collated in the ‘Resource Cupboard’ section at the back of the book, offering adaptable – and downloadable – resources that Lisa has used to successfully enhance learning in the classroom.

Suitable for NQTs, teachers and school leaders.

Picture for author Lisa Jane Ashes

Lisa Jane Ashes

Lisa Jane Ashes is an experienced professional development provider for all things teaching and learning. Lisa has worked in many school-based roles, ranging from classroom support to leadership, and her ability to create collaborative curriculums that allow all learning to be taken forward, used and improved comes from her many and varied experiences in schools.

Click here to listen to Lisa on the Pivotal Podcast.

Click here to read Lisa's article on Innovate my School.

Click here to read Lisa Jane Ashes' blog.



  1. In Teacher in the Cupboard, Lisa Jane Ashes provides teachers with an original and refreshing take on self-reflection and invites them to adopt a goldfish-bowl approach to evaluating the teacher-learner equation.

    Lisa guides teachers through a series of productive steps designed to help them stand back and objectively observe their learners, with a view to stemming untoward behaviour or negative inclinations in the classroom by better understanding the learner's perspective. Furthermore, she shares useful advice and a range of solution-focused techniques so that solutions to potentially troublesome situations can be identified before disaster strikes. She also talks teachers through the process of devising their own creative strategies - which can be tested, reviewed and adjusted as necessary - and presents a wealth of insightful and fascinating case-study examples which aptly illustrate the points made.
  2. -˜Problems are not the problem; excuses are.' Lisa Jane Ashes' Teacher in the Cupboard exhorts us to look afresh at the issues which concern and frustrate us, and encourages us to consider alternative perspectives and focus on possible actions rather than being blinded by the problem. Lisa courageously challenges the reader to look again at their own behaviour, and to ask whether in some ways we may be contributing to the difficulties we are facing. Yet by beginning with careful observation and reflection, using our insights to frame solution-focused questions, taking action designed to resolve the issue, and then evaluating, reviewing and recalibrating, we can - as Lisa suggests - move forward.

    The topics explored include: strategies for controlling our emotions and not letting  them derail our behaviour as we address pupils' challenging behaviour; getting the best from high-attaining students and encouraging their independence; how to create a learning culture within classes which may have been -˜written off' by others; effective time management and self-regulation; how to make differentiation manageable; how leaders can work to get the best from staff as they work to get the best from the pupils; and how to make the most of professional development sessions.

    I found this an unusual, provocative book, designed to encourage us to think and to question our assumptions, to resist giving in to our emotional responses, and to reflect - from -˜the cupboard' - before taking action which is carefully considered and purposeful. It also offers practical ideas and resources to support our implementation of the different strategies that Lisa suggests.

    Teacher in the Cupboard has something to offer all teachers - including supply teachers - and classroom assistants of all levels of experience, if they are committed to refreshing their practice in order to be even more effective in the future.

  3. Lisa Jane Ashes' beautifully crafted exploration of the difficulties faced by teachers and students is thoroughly enjoyable. As well as exploring these challenges from a variety of insightful perspectives, Lisa shares a wealth of accessible strategies and signposts which will directly support teaching professionals in their daily work.

    A refreshing blend of reality, hope, humour, compassion and pragmatic solutions, Teacher in the Cupboard resets the moral compass and hands educators a road map to purposeful teaching and learning.
  4. At last, a voice that puts people back into education. I for one am tired of the -˜system' and its inherent fear with its managers, inspectors, know-it-alls and education ministers being the domineering naysayers of our schools. Lisa is on the money when she says that what we do requires us all to see the humanity in one another. Education will be richer as a result. The book's subtitle, -˜Self-reflective, solution-focused teaching and learning', is a worthy reminder that the teaching profession is a human endeavour, often forgotten in the milieu of modern education.

    Teacher in the Cupboard challenges us to reflect on what the problems in our contexts are - and on the excuses we make for not resolving them - and encourages us to think creatively to find workable and humane solutions. It is filled with calm and level-headed examples of problem-solving, from tackling difficult classes and reluctant learners to managing our frantic workloads. Lisa is unshakeably positive in her outlook, even when reflecting on teaching's difficult moments - insisting that a solution can always be found within ourselves if we just stop, look and listen. She also offers ideas around why and how difficulties arise, and how we can find pre-emptive solutions that enable us to be more productive and our students better behaved and better learners.

    At the heart of Lisa's approach are the relationships teachers build between themselves and their students. The neat, succinct examples of what this might look, sound and feel like offer excellent opportunities to reflect on your own practice as well as that of those you work alongside.

    Teacher in the Cupboard is instantly useable for expert and beginner teachers alike. Lisa's honesty and positivity make it an enjoyable, humbling and useful read, and one that I will return to again and again in reflecting upon and refining my practice. 
  5. I think Lisa Jane Ashes' -˜self-blindness' metaphor is appropriate for any teacher. We are never too old to learn new things about ourselves or how to handle situations, and Teacher in the Cupboard advocates just that. It's practical, easy to follow, and grounded in real-life examples, which makes its ideas and suggestions both reliable and easy to action. It also offers some fresh ideas about how to deal with staff, and how to approach them when an issue arises. 

    I felt like Lisa was coaching me personally throughout this book, and it's made me reflect on a few situations I have found myself in - whether with staff or with students - that I would want to handle differently. I now feel invigorated and ready to tackle my trickier classes, taking greater care to reflect on how I can adapt my practice to better manage behaviour and ensure I'm fully stretching my learners. 

    Teacher in the Cupboard would be a particularly encouraging read for newly qualified teachers, to help them develop the high levels of reflection needed to enhance students' behaviour for learning. 
  6. Lisa Jane Ashes' Teacher in the Cupboard is a truthful and heartfelt reflection on the realities of the teaching profession - every teacher will recognise a little bit of themselves in the scenarios described.

    From time to time we all find ourselves in challenging and tricky situations - and therefore the need for self-awareness and evaluation is critical for teachers. Lisa has clearly taken note of this necessity and in this book offers many practical strategies to help facilitate reflective thinking. She prompts us to really observe and listen to what is happening around us, and poses probing questions we should ask ourselves when children appear to disengage from their learning. 

    Teacher in the Cupboard will offer similar comfort to that of the friendly colleague in the staffroom, who we can all turn to when we need a little guidance.

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