Visualising The Future


I’ve been waiting to write this blog post for ages but for some reason or other, there has always been something that has cropped up that has stopped me. I am not sure why, as using a visualiser is probably one of the most influential techniques in my teaching armoury, and I have found it has given me the greatest impact in the quality of work produced and knowledge retained. I am going to discuss the various benefits of using a visualiser based on my experience as a primary school teacher. This however is relatable to secondary classrooms and indeed further education.


I can not say that word ‘modelling’ without enough emphasis. The key to getting things right in the classroom on every level (from a sheet stuck in correctly to an accurately converted improper fraction to a mixed number) is down to how you explicitly model that to the learners. For me, the best way to do that is by using a visualiser. I have used one for the last 5 years now and I honestly can’t imagine how I would produce the quality of work I do without one. As a child, I adored seeing art tutorials where they gave me step by step instruction how to succeed. A visualiser allows you to do just that. In every single aspect. Primary teachers will know that you can tell a child how to do something multiple times and they will still interpret that oral instruction in their own way. Seeing it laid plain and bare, with no wriggle room, makes it clear precisely what you expect. Presentation, expectation, achievement laid out in front of the child. Those of you who have read my ‘presentation pest’ blog will know how important this modelling is within the classroom.



For those unfamiliar with the phrase ‘W.A.G.O.L.L.’ it literally means what a good one looks like. Whatever lesson I teach, I will use a visualiser to create a live W.A.G.O.L.L. to serve as example children which will inspire to achieve. The great thing about a W.A.G.O.L.L. is that it allows for instantaneous differentiation of the SAME taught task without the tedious (and pointless) need to create separate work. I will create a W.A.G.O.L.L. which is constructed through dialogue with the children and then give the same set phrase:

‘You can use my W.A.G.O.L.L. to guide you at the start, change elements of my W.A.G.O.L.L. or completely ignore it and do your own thing.’

Three choices. Same task. Allows for scaffold, support and challenge. All provided under a visualiser through co-construction. The above photo shows how they took shared ideas in a DT session and followed that pattern.


The ability to provide whole class, immediate feedback under a visualiser is simply breath-taking in how powerful it is. As I walk around the class room, I can find examples of powerful, excellent writing, art, critical thinking and whip it under the visualiser straight away for the whole class to see. We all know the power of peer and how seeing the work of another child displayed to the whole class has in terms of engagement and reaction to improve and want to emulate.

I would NEVER use a visualiser to display misconceptions spotted in children’s work (although have heard horror stories where teachers do this) but when I spot them in work, I write them down, stop the class and invite the children to look at what I have done wrong. We discuss and they go back and check own work to make sure they haven’t made those errors. So no pointless next step marking they check the next day that means nothing. Immediate whole class feedback, under a visualiser, during a lesson in context to support progress.


IMG_0059I am a huge fan of daily retrieval practice and you can read blogs I have written about what they entail and mean on my WordPress site. For me, the ability to use a visualiser to quiz children instantly means my work load is down (as I am not generating resources to display) and can act instantaneously on things I see need immediately addressing. A visualiser allows the questions you have to be written and displayed. Yes, this can be done on word or other software, or indeed written on a white board. I personally find the ability to write, draw, scribble, use dual coding to express my thoughts SITTING DOWN COMFORTABLY can not be underestimated.


One final comment to make about the use of visualisers during recent stressful times is that that provide a wonderful support for parents at home to watch how you would deliver lessons. It isn’t the same as having their teacher there but that grounding of modelling and feedback can still be shared and used to produce excellent work at home using a visualiser. IMG_2520

Why I Love Teaching

newWe’ve all seen that video. If you haven’t then you will have seen many similar. An uplifting, happy reflection on why one should consider embarking on a career in teaching. I don’t normally pay them much attention but this particular one seemed to stand out. When I watched it, I felt a warm glow as the relationship and interaction shown felt close to how I feel. I understood it was an advert, but liked the added touches such as coffee rings on the marking being done at lunch time and changing midflow to try a new tactic when the children could not grasp the concept.

I then followed with interest the comments that spilled from it. He was going home with the children. Not taking marking home. Not enduring endless observations. I get that. I also get that it was an advert. You are not going to see an advert to be a surgeon showing that your patient may die on you or you will end up doing 24 hour shifts and napping on a sofa in your office. Jobs are hard. They come with massive highs and massive lows and all one can do is try and focus on the good and work collaboratively as a profession to change the bad.

I am going to focus on all the reasons why I love teaching because ultimately we will all experience those bad days that make us want to go home and sink our face in bowl of cheese. Focusing on the good is what helps remind us why we do this job, despite the lows that can hit all of us at any young

Did I always want to be a teacher? Did I wake up as a small child and think this was my career path? Despite having teacher parents, suprisingly the answer is no. As a young child I actually wanted to ride BMX bikes or be a gymnast. The sport phobic in me now has to have a wry smile about that.

Sadly the dream of being a BMX hero soon passed and I developed a huge love for the environment and wanted to make a difference in that sector so embarked on a degree in Environmental Biology. This is me. Aged 21, just finished Uni and about to start an exciting career as an Air Emissions Technician. I was full of the glorious innocence youth has, thinking I would change the world. me

Sadly, what I found was the adult world didn’t really want to change. I won’t go into details but some of my sparkle and optimism left and I soon realised this career was not sustainable. But my desire to make changes and make a difference did not waver.

It was at this point I looked closer to home. The impact my parents were making on the many children they had taught over the years, and I started to wonder whether all this passion to perform and feel full of life (like that little BMX champion want-to-be) and make changes and impact (as the innocent environmentalist wanted) could be achieved through teaching.

Fast forward to 2020. I am moving into my 15th year of teaching and I know this will make some people eye-roll, but I  love it more now than I did all those years ago when I stood in front of my first class and squeaked good morning. Why do I love it?

  1. I love walking into my classroom and seeing happy smiles and warm hellos to greet me. I also love when I can make a child who doesn’t greet me with a happy smile feel safe and secure and know it is ok not to feel like smiling all the time and I am there to help them through that.
  2. I love being able to bring all my passion for reading, the Arts and science into the classroom. I am discovering new learning and knowledge daily and get such a wonderful, varied diet of knowledge it can’t but help to lift my soul.
  3.  I love those magic moments where a light bulb flicks on and you can see them suddenly understand a concept and skill and fly with it.
  4.  I love how my class becomes a team. Working together. Supporting each other. Including me. In December when I was so sad, they would come up and simply stroke my hand or slip little notes on my desk to cheer me up. Kids are great aren’t they?!
  5.  I get to meet the most wonderful friends in teaching through attending conferences and events. Friends like no other. You know who you are.
  6.  I get to have long, glorious holidays in the sun or the snow.
  7.  I get to spend so much time with my own three dragons.
  8.  The pay is enough for me to live comfortably when all around I know others are less fortunate.
  9.  It has made me a strong, passionate person. Given me an outlet. No matter what struggles I am going through, when I walk into that classroom I am Miss Eccles. The teacher. Wanted. Needed. Loved.

10. Being a teacher simply completes me.