The Stress of Tests and the Danger Behind That Stress

The National Union of Teachers has stated that while regular testing is important to see how our pupils are learning, excessive testing and the importance we place on some of these tests could be having a negative effect on stress levels in young children.

Tests are a standardised way of finding out who is ‘doing well’ in education and who needs ‘a little extra help’. Unfortunately, there is no right formula for learning.

Some children who don’t work well in exam conditions are fully capable and coherent individuals, whereas others who excel in tests have difficulty solving problems on their own terms.

It is important that teachers and teaching assistants highlight the importance of tests – for nationwide purposes – as well as letting children know that it is not the be all and end all of their cognitive abilities.

It is great when test scores are high, but if the cost of high test scores is the increased stress levels and fear of failure from the children themselves, then we desperately need to re-think our educational strategy.


Teacher Hacks – Top Tips and Tricks

Everyone needs a hand every now and then. To keep teachers and support staff up to date with the latest hints and tips on teaching, we’ve listed a few of our favourite ‘hacks’ that will help you in the classroom.

  1. Keep it Down

There are noise recognising apps you can install on your phone which sound an alarm when the decibel level goes over a certain amount. If your kids can get excited on occasion, this is a good way of reminding them to keep quiet during lessons.

  1. Prevent Early Finishers from Becoming Class Clowns

Having an ‘I’m Done!’ cup full of extra tasks for early finishers will prevent them from getting bored and trying to distract their classmates. Simple tasks like ‘practice your spellings’ or ‘read a poem from the poems book’ will keep their minds occupied.

  1. Hand Signals Help to Prevent Disruptions

SONY DSCSometimes your kids need a drink, or will want to use the toilet. Creating a series of hand signals designed to prevent disruption will help keep the peace during quiet time. They don’t have to be seriously complicated, but they need to be clear. If you want, you could even incorporate a bit of sign language into your hand signals to keep the learning going.

  1. Home-Made Homework Tray

If you need a quick fix homework tray, try using a simple foil baking tray decorated with some coloured paper. It works and it shows your pupils the power of recycling!

  1. Pencil Dispenser for the Disorganised

Some kids will never remember to bring a pencil. An old straw dispenser will double up as a pencil dispenser for when your pupils forget to bring their stationary. If you want to keep tabs on the number of pencils you have loaned out, attach a coloured strip to the base of each pencil.

Tips For your first PGCE Observation

tick-300x296When it comes to your first PGCE observation as a teacher in training, it is important to remember that the appraising tutor has probably seen hundreds of lessons of the same type, so the chances are that at least 10% of those lessons were complete disasters, so they’re prepared for absolutely anything to happen.

The point of these appraisals is to help you build upon existing traits and to help improve upon your weaker teaching points so that you can grow and learn as a teacher in your own right.

These tutors are not here to assess your ability; they are merely there to help you develop your own skills as a fully fledged teacher.

Know your subject well as many teachers in training might try out an entirely new subject in order to impress the tutor; however this can lead to unplanned detours as children will react in ways that you often won’t expect. Make copies of everything; the lesson plan, resources, work sheets etc. so that you can give them to your support staff as well as have a few spares where needed.

All in all it is important to relax and stay calm. These tutors are here to assess your ability to adapt, especially when things don’t quite go as planned. Enjoy it and remember that the most crucial thing is to make sure your pupils are learning!

Act Up Act One Acting Courses

confidence actingFacing a classroom of new students with expectant faces can be very daunting. As teachers, we focus our efforts on building self confidence of our class, and we forget to focus on our confidence. We have found that taking acting classes can boost our own confidence and make us more ready to face the day.

Presenting ourselves with confidence can help build great relationships with our class and can engage the children in learning.  It is also a great way to bring fun and humour into the class and in turn receiving great energy.

The company Act Up have recently announced a beginners acting course which helps with vocal exercises, improvisation and assistance in public speaking. The course is 2 hour sessions over the course of 8 weeks. Lessons will be taken in small classes with a maximum of 14 people and there is also the option of a trip to the theatre, although this is not compulsory. For more information check out the Act Up website.

At Red Box we are always looking for ways to help our teachers and teaching assistants to improve themselves, so Act UP is a fantastic opportunity for those looking for a little help with their confidence. Happy acting!!

Making Lessons Fun! Advice Tips 1

In order to keep children of all ages interested in learning and developing with exciting and engaging content while still sticking to the given syllabus, here are some top tips.



Rewards Systems

As the curriculum requires small goals to be set across the year, implement a small rewards system that will give both you and your pupils something to strive towards, and feel proud of when achieved. Even something as little as a star or a sticker or a ‘Well Done’ stamp can have a great effect on confidence in children, and they will be more inclined to try harder when reaching the next goal.


Take Advice From Those who Have Come Before You


If there are any lesson plans kept from the previous years, look through them for inspiration. Remember that exciting and informative lessons are the key to engaging your pupils, whether early years or at Key Stage 2 level; make them fun!

Whether you are looking for fully qualified supply teachers, or are a supply teacher or teaching assistant looking for a placement, Red Box Teacher’s can help connect you with the right people. Contact us today!

Lesson Outline for Key Stage One (KS1) and Key Stage Two (KS2)

From year one up to year 6 the current guidance given to the majority of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 teachers usually divides lessons into four distinct parts. The planning across London schools varies greatly so this short introduction should be used as a guide only.


To start, use a short activity, this should last for roughly 10 minutes. This may relate to the lesson objective but it does not need to. Make it something exciting, engaging and stimulating to gain pupils attention.


The second part of the lesson is the main teaching session. There should be something interesting given which ‘hooks’ the children into learning more about the subject chosen. The teacher should then carefully guide the children through the objective for the lesson. This is important as it outlines what the children should be learning. In many schools it is also common to use ‘Success Criteria’ which show what the children need to do to achieve the objective.

After the objectives have been outlined then the teaching part of the session should occur. During teaching as many different strategies should be employed as possible i.e. a kinesthetic, auditory and visual mixture to appeal to a multitude of children. Try to keep a good pace during this session to maintain children’s attention. If they go ‘off task’ it is often because they are disengaged o if this happens, adopt a new style or approach.


Next, the children are set an activity which is based on the objective for the session. They should be able to complete this based on what you have taught the children. It is usual for a teacher to support one group and the teaching assistant another, whilst the rest of the children complete the activity independently. However, in some schools it is usual for a teacher to circulate the class ensuring all are on task.


At the end of the session occurs the plenary. A good plenary should reinforce what the children have learnt, reflect on how successful they were at the session and extend their thinking upon the subject taught. Again, try to make this so it makes use of a variety of learning styles.