Captivating Your Class: Effective Teaching Skills

Author(s) Joanne Philpott
Publisher Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.
Published 2009
Pages 171
Price £17.99
ISBN 9781847062673
Reviewed by Mr Simon Atkinson
Sijen Education / Massey University NZ
Review published 9 November 2009

At a time of significant change in the UK 14-19 qualifications regime, with the focus in learning designs drifting away from notions of student centeredness and personalisation towards individualisation and engagement, Joanne Philpott’s very approachable 170 pages of advice, guidance, suggestions and self-reflective questions is timely.
Based evidently on a wealth of personal experience as an Advanced Skills Teacher at an A level college in the United Kingdom, and her insights into others practice, Philpott provides a rich smorgasbord of practical support for colleagues. Whilst at times one has to wonder whether her specialist interests in Assessment for Learning and Gifted and Talented have minimalised classroom management issues in order to prioritise idealised opportunities for engagement, the advice is realistic in a range of contexts. Focussed on the A level classroom, AS, A2 and all level 3 equivalents (including the International Baccalaureate), it can easily lend itself to stimulating possibilities compulsory education and tertiary. The underlying principles of engagement are common to many levels.

This book is structured around six sections; Enlivening A level teaching and learning, Creating independent students, Encouraging reflective learners, Extending students thinking, Revision, and The next steps. Its easy conversational style provides teachers with very succinct and practical strategies and techniques. The style in which they are presented will undoubtedly appeal to the time-poor teacher who wants to dip-in, with useful summaries at the end of most ‘topics’. The focus is on staff developing techniques for their own context to ensure students have purposeful and inspiring learning experiences and the volume itself feels inspiring. There is a frequent sense of ‘I could try that’ as one reads the well structured examples and case studies.

Whilst there are some graphical representations, the work lacks some sense of visual vibrancy. One is left wondering how one might present a particular concept to students in visual forms as part of the classroom implementation.

Applicable across all across subjects, this volume would provide a useful focus to internal CPD, perhaps encouraging staff to share, and illustrate practical examples of personal variations. Many teachers will do many of the things Philpott suggests already, but to bring so many thought provoking, and practical suggestions together on one volume, at a time of significant curriculum renewal, is a welcome contribution to the literature.