Try, refine, ditch…?

This is becoming a bit of a Saturday morning ritual now. I wake up, usually I have breakfast, however, as it is the holy month of Ramadan, I am lying in my bed waiting for my cricket match to begin. (This week, I am playing my former team! It should be interesting!)

To kill some time, as per usual, I have been scanning through Twitter. I read a really heart rendering blog from @miss_mcinerney about why we, as adults shouldn’t really feel like we are missing out. (Read here.) My response to the blog post was…

Anyhow… I was then alerted to this video clip of @informed_edu via @heymisssmith and I watched in awe and wonder.

The talk discusses what makes great teachers. What resonated most with me was when David spoke about being a magpie and trying out new ideas.

I then began to think about my toolkit, my TeachMeet presentations, my workshops, INSETs and CPD I deliver. My whole rationale revolves around trying out new ideas. Essentially being a magpie. I implore others to find out, seek out, read and understand.

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For example, here is my ‘Top Tip for NQTs’ via @HaysEducationUK It is all about reading and learning…

Now, what I wanted to talk about here, in this post is that trying out ideas is OK!

I always say to colleagues that in order for them to try out a new idea they must adapt, personalise and tweak it to their context and students. I always try to stress that if an idea does not have the intended outcome then refine it, if it still doesn’t work simply ditch it. Try, refine, ditch.

Try something new?

Refine something a little, tweak it, adjust it?

Ditch something that after trying and tweaking has not and will not work.

However, we are essentially creatures of habit. We like routine, we like conformity, (generally), we usually do not like change. This transfer into the fact that we have many hundreds of good and bad habits that are so ingrained in our routines that we would maybe, not even notice them.

There is a point to make here about the distinction between the words habit and routine.

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Habits being a regular tendency or practice. A routine being a sequence of actions regularly followed.

In embodied interpretation of cognitive science Kilpinen argues that it is these two things that make us, creatures, so complexly beautiful. That without these habits and routines we would not be as articulated as we are, as a species.

Graham Nuthall states in his book The Hidden Lives of Learners that we must learn in at least three different contexts for it to be truly embedded. Is this a habit of ours in the classroom? Do we re-mix lessons in order for students to solidify their learning?

I also wonder about the ‘Repetition Principle’ which argues that by ‘repetition, it creates a pattern, which consequently and naturally grabs our attention at first and then creates comfort and familiarity.

Will trying out new ideas then stop this familiarity? Or will it ‘grab our attention’?


What are your good and bad habits in the classroom?

What are your routines in your teaching?

What do you do well? Really well? So well, that students value it? Or does, it become easy, routine like and unchallenging? Too familiar? Or is that a good thing?

What do you do bad? Is it unorganised? Puts students in their panic zone and therefore, no learning? Or is that the hook?

By trying out new ideas, you do not need to affect your habits or routines or your practice of teaching or ensuring students engage, learn and enthuse about their learning. You also do not need to affect your actions of how you deliver and what you deliver. The outcome of the delivery can stay constant and can be worthwhile still.

Trying out new ideas can essentially help solidify your habits and routines? Maybe, they can streamline, eradicate or even improve them?

Be a magpie, but do not forget the process of learning, do not try try try, try, refine and ditch.



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