The Art of Being a Brilliant Teacher

By: Andy Cope , Chris Henley , Gary Toward


Or purchase digital products from our partners:


Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 126 x 198 mm
Pages : 224
ISBN : 9781845909413
Format: Paperback
Published: March 2015

Teaching is an art; with the right techniques, guidance, skills and practice, teachers can masterfully face any situation the classroom could throw at them. With their fresh perspectives, sage advice and a hint of silliness, Andy, Chris and Gary show teachers how to unleash their brilliance.

For any teacher who has ever had a class that are angels for colleagues but Lucifer incarnate as soon as they cross the threshold of their classroom. Or who realised too late that their best-laid lesson plans were doomed from the start. Or who had their energy and enthusiasm sapped by a mood-hoovering staffroom Grinch. These problems will be a thing of the past once they’ve mastered the art of being a brilliant teacher. With plenty of practical advice and top tips, this book will show them how.

Click here to view other titles in our successful Art of Being Brilliant series.

The Art of Being Brilliant series was a finalist in the 2017 Education Resources Awards in the Educational Book Award category.

Picture for author Andy Cope

Andy Cope

Andy Cope is the author of the famous Spy Dog books, a trainer and keynote speaker. He is an expert in positive psychology and happiness, which led him to develop The Art of Being Brilliant. This is delivered in various forms as workshops for businesses, conferences, teachers and teenagers. It has also informed the thinking behind his brilliant books.

Click here to listen in on Andy's podcast with Pivotal Education - 'Being Brilliant!'.

Picture for author Chris Henley

Chris Henley

Chris Henley is a trainer and keynote speaker who taught for over thirty years in three different secondary schools. Chris is an inspirational teacher who moved on from leading an outstanding languages department to become a senior leader. As assistant head in charge of teaching and learning, he played a major role in two successful Ofsted inspections.

Picture for author Gary Toward

Gary Toward

Gary Toward is a trainer, keynote speaker and novelist who has previously taught in seven schools countrywide. He was head teacher of three schools in Leicestershire, during which time he co-led a pupil referral unit (PRU) out of special measures.


  1. “As a teacher with years of teaching experience and change of umpteen schools, kind of complacency sets in and anything novel only raises eyebrows and a question as to what more? This is just what happened when I set my eyes and hands on this book-¦-¦-¦ -˜The art of being a brilliant teacher!'

    Initially I picked up the book to kill time but as I surfed through a few pages I realized the book is not meant for casual reading and is likely to add value to my existing reservoir of knowledge or at least bring in a new perspective towards teaching, a job that becomes mundane as years flyby.

    Every experienced teacher feels that she has mastered the teaching nuances and it is her birthright to write a book and enlighten those with struggles in the field, however the writers' intentions are clear from the very beginning. The book is not meant to preach but an attempt to replenish the dying sense of passion amongst teachers that comes with age.

    Everything about the book is quirky-¦ The language, the style, the content and the writers themselves -¦..Oh my god three of them!

    The book is packed with tips, techniques and plenty of anecdotes. Especially worth a mention are the snippets, the phrases and quotes. More so ,the handy -˜In a nutshell' columns before the start of every chapter are inviting and give you a peek into what will follow and whether to proceed or skip. Interestingly I never skipped a chapter because I found a reason worthwhile in each.

    The writers with a huge 90 years of teaching experience among them know precisely a teacher's journey that is full of apprehensions, joys, frustrations and sweat and this makes the book readable, relevant and fun.

    Acronyms such as HUGG (huge unbelievably great goals), VAK (visual auditory kinesthetic) W II F M (what's in it for me) THUNKS(thought grenades) tickle your senses and bring alive the heavy content.

    Classroom management strategies such as mini conversations, consistency in discipline, seating plans, Matthew effect, engaging introductions and plenary, correct spellings and correct pronunciations of students names, error less jottings in the register, detailing of the lesson, changing displays, multiple class layouts, welcome and see off of students, differentiation, bounce back ability, entropy ,mood hoovers, nutters, 7 p's of teaching, creative mood lifting games and positivity are beautifully touched upon and leave you with a feeling of wanting to do more.

    The earnestness and excitement of the writers rubs onto you as you read. I strongly believe that the book is a must read for freshers bursting with enthusiasm as well as the seasoned veterans. It should find a place in every teachers home as a charger when one is contemplating quitting the profession.
    The book seems a little intimidating and makes a teacher's job look herculean and maybe a little idealistic as well but definitely definitely worth a read-¦

    P.S. : The book is a must for every teacher who dreads Mondays.”

    Click here to read the review on Shamim's blog.
  2. The Art Of Being A Brilliant Teacher by Gary Toward, Chris Henley and Andy Cope is an entertaining resource brimming over with positive psychology and “cracking stuff” for building world class lessons.

    “You might like to think of this book as 'everything you wanted to know about teaching but never dared ask'. It's pretty much a pick-and-mix cornucopia of all the things we feel teachers should know.”

    The authors bounce around, nibble and zip-wire through different concepts that you probably hadn't heard of or given much thought to and they insist we need to be a 2%er - a life giver, a happy pedagogue with vim that radiates energy.

    They say we need to focus on six main points:

    One: choose to be positive

    Two: understand your impact

    Three: take personal responsibility

    Four: possess bouncebackability

    Five: have a HUGG (Huge Unbelievably Great Goals)

    Six: play to your strengths

    Click here to see the review on the Teacher Toolkit website.
  3. In the world of education, nothing is easy. Indeed, year after year it seems to get harder, with more and more resources published declaring that they will help us to improve schools but rather just leave us feeling more and more inadequate. Therefore it was amazing to discover the Art of Being Brilliant resources, which enabled hard-working teachers and teaching assistants to focus on the important things in schools, using a clear, focused and fun approach. The Art of Being Brilliant series of books were a godsend to my busy workforce: letting them see how changing your mindset enables you to change your life and, more importantly, the lives of the children we are teaching. These resources have helped our school to develop a positive mindset and to recognise how everything that we do -˜creates the weather' in our classrooms. As a result of this attitude to learning, behaviour for learning and enjoyment of teaching has improved.

    It is important that teaching professionals, teaching assistants, and, most importantly, children recognise that they are brilliant in a world that can quickly become negative. By encouraging individuals to see their own brilliance we build resilience and enjoyment in education.

    I discovered these resources at the beginning of my headship three years ago and I credit much of the improvement in my school to the support they gave me, both through the authors' publications and consultancy. My school is located in a challenging area of the country where there is much deprivation and our school is the beacon of hope for our children. My staff recognise this and work to ensure that the difficulties the children face in their lives are addressed and that their impact is balanced with the successes they can achieve in school. To see them skipping into school each day, enthused by the challenges they face, is a joy to behold - and that is both staff and children. Brilliant!
  4. We have used the Art of Being Brilliant series to support and inspire both teaching and classroom support staff. It is the positive approach based on experience that strikes a chord and makes the difference.
  5. This series is hugely innovative and hundreds of copies have been purchased and raved about by both trainee and newly qualified teachers during our collaborative work with the authors' consultancy company, Decisive Element. The resource is hugely energising and a positive tool for new and experienced teachers that feel overwhelmed.

    The impact of these resources has been hugely positive on learning and the work of the teacher in the classroom; lots of our members have reported back how effective the tips and tricks learned are and how they have used the resources to combat behaviour issues in particular.

    The titles support and enhance the everyday life and work of teachers, pupils and schools by using tried-and-tested techniques that enable teachers to engage with pupils in a positive, understanding way which is at all times enjoyable!

    This resource is absolutely priceless and has helped hundreds of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' (ATL) members develop in their teaching practice!
  6. Many colleagues in my school have purchased copies of these titles, depending on their roles and responsibilities, and along with the support of the authors we have developed a positivity approach with our students, which has had a very positive impact on behaviour and results.

    However, I would like to comment specifically on what has happened in my department and how these books have helped during a major transition.

    The first and most important thing to point out is that these books are not textbooks. They're not stuffy or filled full of pedagogical theories and studies. Teachers and support staff are busy people with lots of pressures so it's a breath of fresh air to have books which are easy to read, are packed with tips and strategies that work and also lift the spirits with a few laughs. Because of this, they are both readable and useful. Some staff have dipped in to them when looking for new ideas, others have read them cover to cover. All have found them easy to read and engaging.

    There's a superb theme that runs through the books: that of relationships. I have used the ideas presented both within my teaching to get the best out of my students (The Art of Being a Brilliant Teacher) and in leading my staff to collectively become an outstanding department commended highly by both Ofsted and Her Majesty's Inspectors during recent inspections (The Art of Being a Brilliant Middle Leader). The idea that we all have to try to be our best - ultimately for the benefit of our students - is a great theme for staff.

    What's key here is that these books are about the pupils, not the teachers or support staff. They might have roles in their titles, but it is very clear that by being brilliant at what you do - whatever your role - the school's pupils get a better deal, and that has enabled my staff to help our students achieve better outcomes. Behaviour and engagement in learning have been crucial areas to get right in our development as both a school and a department, and the tips and strategies given in this series of books have helped this process.

    As a leader I can spend hours talking to staff about the direction and vision I have for my department, however it also helps to have an extra voice; and in this case the voice is from two teachers and school leaders with huge experience (Gary Toward and Chris Henley). This, coupled with Andy Cope's positive psychology spin, really creates a recipe which helps me as a leader to get the best out of my staff. Great CPD and inspiration.

    I have recommended these books to colleagues in other schools and will continue to do so as they stand out for me as easily accessible and inspirational CPD. The fact that the books can be supported with additional programmes and strategies, both with teachers and students, adds that extra factor which really does make a difference for kids.
  7. I have immensely enjoyed reading the Art of Being Brilliant series: a fantastic set of resources for anyone working within the modern classroom. Engaging and challenging, these pocket-sized -˜bibles' distil decades of combined experience and expertise into manageable chunks of advice and direction. Written in a straightforward and relaxed style, the authors cut to the chase with practical illustrations and inspired suggestions to help classroom practitioners at all levels to -˜be brilliant'. Delivered with trademark humour and passion, I can't think of a better resource for teachers of all levels to turn to for creative ideas, intelligent and helpful challenges, and affirmation of the power of teachers to really -˜control the weather' in their classrooms and impact most effectively on the attitudes and learning of not just students but also colleagues. Indeed, many of our clients have bought these books and speak highly about how much they have helped them ... CPD in their pocket.

    These are everyday guides that can easily be dipped into with -˜top tips' and key messages communicated well both visually and regularly throughout the books. More than just a -˜back-to-basics' approach, there is real power in focusing on the small things that can have a massive impact on both teaching and learning. I have had the opportunity to experience the delivery of these ideas by the authors in practical workshop settings and have always been impressed with the power of the simple yet essential messages, the accessibility of the information, the unapologetic humour and, dare I say it, -˜fun' involved.

    A cost-effective resource that should enhance the everyday practice of anyone working within a classroom environment. At Hays we have bought hundreds of copies to give to our NQT clients as we know they will benefit so much from them.
  8. We have used the Art of Being Brilliant publications over the past few years at Glen Hills Primary School and Fairfield Primary School. Both teachers and classroom support staff have found the books inspirational - chiefly because they are realistic. They are written in an entertaining way but also deal with ways to enhance teaching and learning in practical situations.

    The books have real meaning in 21st century education and the impact that they have on classroom teaching, with the underlying message of motivating pupils, makes them a cost-effective and inspirational resource which both teachers and classroom support staff have taken on board.

    I know that the two schools where these books have been purchased for staff have benefited from the fresh and supportive approach that they advocate. This has helped maintain one school as -˜Outstanding' and raise the other from being at risk of being placed in -˜Serious Weaknesses' to an Ofsted grading of -˜Good'.
  9. With increasing emphasis on salary increases linked to performance management in schools and colleges, this is an essential reference for teachers at all levels.  The emphasis throughout the book is on the effective use of positive psychology to promote engagement, participation, performance and enjoyment of learning.  The authors give readers “oodles of ideas” , top tips and encouragement to think outside of the box.  The illustrations support ideas well.   With the emphasis on “grabbing all the kids attention”,  the authors illustrate techniques of chunking the lesson into realistic parts without being fixated with the “three part lesson” There are excellent sections on improving engagement, promoting student commitment which translates to “customer loyalty”.  The authors, from their wide range of experience have put together an excellent  practical resource to promote more effective enjoyment of learning and achievement.
  10. I'm responsible for mentor training across the department and have referred to The Art of Being a Brilliant Teacher and The Art of Being a Brilliant NQT in each session I've done.

    I will recommend them to next years' trainees and colleagues in schools as they're easy to read and the information is easily accessible to our audience.
  11. Ask yourself: How many times have you been asked to think -˜outside the box'? Such requests usually happen when trying to reinvigorate the curriculum, or when faced with a new series of planning meetings.  In fact, we can be so busy trying to think outside this metaphorical box, that we forget to look inside the blasted box! Bizarrely though,  thinking inside the box can actually help you self reflect and is something that many teachers can easily lose sight of.  Schools are full of brilliant teachers who have so much passion about their role, yet negative news, pressure and interference change many into -˜zombiefied' armies who count down the days to the weekend,  half-term or summer holiday break!

    In their book, The Art of Being a Brilliant Teacher, Gary Toward, Chris Henley & Andy Cope want to put an end to this zombie apocalypse - offering teachers a glimmer of hope that the pain and misery of certain aspects of the job are actually worth it. But times are changing, and this is illustrated notably in the book as various scenarios are presented comparing 1975 to the present time:

    Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.

    1975 - Crowd gathers. Johnny wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best mates for life.

    Present - Police called, arresting Johnny and Mark and charge them with assault. Both are expelled even though Mark started it. Both children go to anger management programmes for three months. School governors hold a meeting to implement bullying prevention programmes.


    Robbie won't keep still in class and disrupts other students.

    1975 - Robbie is sent to the head teacher's office and given six of the best. He returns to class,  sits still and does not disrupt the class again.

    Present - Robbie is tested for ADHD and prescribed huge doses of Ritalin. He becomes a zombie. Robbie's parents get fortnightly disability payments and the school gets extra funding from the state because Robbie has a disability.

    At the time of writing, the time line difference of these scenarios is 30 years, and the authors ask us to imagine how the world will change in the next 30 years! Scary thought, but the crux of the message is to enjoy the world today, as it is the world we will look back on with fondness, probably laughing at ourselves at how seriously we take it all.

    This is just a brilliant book for teachers. It doesn't care, and go on, about inspection regimes (We like books that avoid giving the O word too much attention). It doesn't care about policies and the successive interferences and mess governments have left in their wake.
  12. Half an hour in the company of Andy Cope in person or in writing is better than a week in Mustique.
  13. Here's a book for every school's staff library and maybe as a gift for every new member of staff. It helps with positive attitudes, energy and ideas. The authors are brim full of all three and have an amazing capacity to make it infectious. Moreover it's a book to be dipped into whenever any teachers find themselves flagging.
  14. An excellent book.  It is light-hearted, yet touches on some of the deepest challenges to being a teacher. It is funny, whilst at the same time raising serious issues that get in the way of loving what we do.  I have LOVED being a teacher for over 30 years, and I hope this will inspire many others, giving them permission to jump right in and immerse themselves far enough to love it too.
  15. I love it when a book really demonstrates its message. The Art of Being a Brilliant Teacher talks about teaching being "the transference of energy, enthusiasm, passion and learning". It then does exactly that through distilled wisdom and experience, good humour and common sense practical ideas, with just enough science to underline its credibility. It's great if you want to be good and invaluable if you want to be brilliant.
  16. I was delighted to review The Art of Being a Brilliant Teacher and even more delighted that this has been extended to The Art of Being A Brilliant NQT. They are the teachers who have to learn fast and this is a book that will really help them to do this.
  17. Yet again The Decisive Element team pull off a masterpiece of positivity. These books are deceptively simple and straight forward guides to getting to the heart of what matters in schools, i.e. making people understand that the true nature of education is being The Decisive Element. By this they show that we are the force which can shape or smash a child's development. Whilst such a message could be crushing Andy, Gary and Chris deliver in such a way that the positivity overcomes the dread at such an awesome responsibility. Nothing they say is new but the way in which they say it is refreshing, inspiring and just what is need for a beleaguered teaching profession. 

    Chris and Gary deliver training at our teaching school and the evaluations say it all - they are always well received and trainees rave about the simple effectiveness of their message. I have used them with NQT's and new entrants to the profession with equal success as with trainee teachers and more experienced staff.

    I cannot recommend this book highly enough - it does the simple things well. Reading this book is an antidote to creeping pessimism and like shot of adrenalin at the end of a hard school week. It makes us all remember what we came into the profession for and quite simply that it does change lives. As it says in the book;

    This is why I love this book. I love the fact that the Doctor of Happiness, Andy Cope, has come together with two amazing educators, Gary Toward and Chris Henley, to cook up this mix of positive self-indulgence just for teachers.

    I will be buying this book for all my staff and imploring them to read it.

Write your own review