Lorna Smith, Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Bristol, considers some of the ways training and newly qualified teachers can support students with their learning.

by Lorna Smith
17th August 2020



  1. Create summary cards of topic material at the end of each unit to support ‘over learning’ and revision.

  2. Provide writing frames or sentence strings – a page could have parts of sentences started periodically down the page, allowing students to structure their report/essay. Attention span tends to lengthen when tasks are short and successful.

  3. Use cueing words and gestures to emphasise points. Silent cues are useful to many students – e.g. thumbs up/down – when they are working individually.

  4. Promote risk-taking in class. Those who can take risks as they learn prove to be skilful students: challenge learners to go for it!

  5. Ensure that students know the purpose of tasks. Students need to know what they are doing and why. Encourage expectations of success by having clearly set objectives.

  6. An effective way of checking whether information has been assimilated is to ask students to reproduce what has been learnt in a different format, e.g. diagram or prose version of information from a table or graph, etc.

  7. Introduce terminology systematically and teach instructional vocabulary (e.g. compare/contrast, etc.). Give out a glossary for the words your subject regularly uses, and create wall displays of key terminology in a huge font size – either in a list, or words dotted around the room.

  8. Close the word gap. Remember that new words also need to be understood. Explain technical language and any foreign words. Teach subject-/topic-specific vocabulary, then assess learning, both for understanding, and for spelling and word recognition.

  9. Whenever possible, students should be encouraged to repeat back what they have been asked to do. Their own voice is a very useful aid to memory.

  10. When supporting a writing task in class, try asking students to leave four or five lines at the top of the page (make a box). You can use this space to write down your comments as you walk around whilst they are working.

Download all 20 tips for supporting students' learning below: 






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