The Impact and Importance of Positive Student-Teacher Relationships

It is the final day of a very very long January and the mornings are becoming that little bit brighter. There is hope on the horizon of spring.

Spring brings us growth, new life and an opportunity for us to reflect and bring a lease of life to our teaching and the relationships we have with the students we teach.

This week I keep thinking about the impact we have as Teachers. Not just in the vast repertoire of subject knowledge we possess, but in the kindness of our words, the modelling of our actions and the support in the choices we make in our classroom.

The relationship between student and teacher plays a large role in the trajectory of a child’s academic success and social development. Establishing a positive relationship with their teacher helps a student feel more comfortable and safe in their classroom environments. We want our students to do well and we want them to get good grades- to improve their opportunities for the future, but if a child doesn’t feel nurtured and supported in our classroom- then really our planning, marking and hours of work go to waste. A child will not learn from someone they are intimidated by or someone they feel doesn’t respect or support them.

So how can we ensure our classrooms are encouraging, supportive and engaging? How can we ensure that pupils want to learn and thrive? That they believe, strive and want to achieve?

Creating a successful classroom environment

How does a teacher’s approach affect that relationship?

In a 2018 study, Arizona State University researcher Victoria Theisen-Homer found different teacher-training programs prioritized different kinds of relationships with students:

• An instrumental focus involved a limited, one-way relationship in which teachers cull bits of information about students specifically to motivate them to behave well and focus on teacher-directed tasks. The relationships “were structured as a controlled means to a particular end: student compliance,” she found. “Students learned that their value was tied to the degree to which they worked hard and behaved in line with what mostly white authority figures demanded.”

• A reciprocal focus required teachers to gather complex information and develop a holistic understanding of their students, inviting the students to grapple with content and problems together. “These students not only learned to think for themselves, but also had adults who affirmed and responded to their thoughts and experiences. Such interactions prepared them to engage with authority figures, and to someday hold positions of authority themselves,” Theisen-Homer said.

The study also found in an analysis of two of these programs that teachers trained in the instrumental focus were more likely to go on to teach in low-income, high-minority schools, while those trained in reciprocal relationships ended up in schools with more high-income and white students. It was not clear why teachers ended up sorting in this way, but it raised concerns about differences in the kinds of relationships high- and low-income students might experience with teachers.

“Sometimes teachers don’t understand the importance that their relationship with each student has on that student’s identity and sense of belonging,” said Vicki Nishioka, a senior researcher with Education Northwest who studies teacher-student relationships. “What gets in the way of that is a more authoritarian kind of discipline and interaction approach with students, which really doesn’t work.”

For example, a 2016 study randomly assigned teachers to increase their positive interactions with students. Students of teachers who boosted their ratio to five positive comments and interactions for every negative one had significantly less disruptive behavior and more time on task academically than the students of a control group of teachers.

How can teachers improve their relationships with students?

In a word: Empathy. Across several recent studies, researchers have found that teachers who cultivate empathy for and with their students are able to manage students’ behavior and academic engagement better.

Nishioka finds that trying to suppress biases or stereotypes about students can sometimes make them worse, but practicing perspective-taking—actively imagining how a student might perceive or be affected by a situation—can reduce bias and deepen teacher-student relationships. She recommended teachers:

• Talk to students to understand differences in their perceptions and expectations in class.

• Research cultural differences between teachers and students to head off cultural misunderstandings, particularly around norms, styles, and language.

• Teach and model perspective-taking for students in class.

Vacancies at Westfield

We have just achieved our 3rd successive ‘Good’ Inspection from Ofsted, and 4th consecutive positive year with our Year 11 students, and are now seeking staff to work with us on our drive towards Outstanding!

Ofsted praised the quality of care and relationships at Westfield, and we fundamentally believe in the importance of people at our Academy. If you share our passion, please see our adverts for:

Head of RE

-Head of DT

-Head of Business and Computer Science Faculty

-Teacher of Science

These are on our Website at

See our results in Hertfordshire as a non-selective school at

Our newest Ofsted report is here!

If you are interested in visiting us, please get in touch at and we will be delighted to show you around.

Routine is good

The basics, the 9-to-5, the nuts and bolts.

Call it what you will, the routines that we embed provide the consistency and foundations for  all learning to take place. It is these routines that we have been working on the last few weeks – to allow for the sparks, the creativity and the abolutely-bleeding-fantastic to take place.

First and foremost is the Meet and Greet, the smile and welcome at the door that starts the whole process of 60 minutes learning. This is the positive that can disarm, welcome and commence the teacher-student relationship.

outside JAO


Once they’re in, let’s get ready for learning with a formal stand and invitation to be seated, with books and equipment out. A starter to review prior learning should also be in evidence.

Once these expectations are secured, the lesson can kick on.


Clear learning objectives, written down might be old-school, but serve as crucial reminders and a focus for the lesson. The exercise book remains a key resource for revision – for our half-termly assessments, as well as final exams.

The LOs herald the new learning, flagged up and connected to the daily review. Formative assessment will check on student understanding of this new knowledge.

Silence and listening is of course expected.

Clear Blooms’d objectives will build the learning into a connected series, allowing for a learning cycle that will flow through the lesson.

next stage

These nuts and bolts hold the lesson together, providing the structure for great learning.

Westfield Academy's 10 Principles in Action





Rosenshine’s Principle’s in action: Clarity of Instruction

clarity (n)

The quality of being coherent and intelligible.

sharpness · clearness · crispness · definition · distinctness · precision

Instructional Clarity: Clear Only If Known

Have you ever bought something that came with confusing instructions?  Have you ever asked someone for directions who assured you that “It’s easy to find; you can’t miss it”?  However, when you tried to follow the directions, you missed it and were lost.  Dr Edgar Dale noted the similarity between giving poor instructions, or bad directions, and ineffective teaching where the students are lost, but the professor unwarily continues lecturing mostly to her/himself.  Dale called such occasions “the COIK fallacy — (Clear Only If Known).”


How can Teachers avoid the COIK fallacy?

Poor teaching, like bad directions, can leave a student lost.  Teachers who lead their students into new territories need to avoid the COIK fallacy by striving for instructional clarity.

Hines, Cruickshank and Kennedy found a link between teacher clarity and student achievement and satisfaction.  They identified twelve behaviours that contribute to instructional clarity.  Instructional clarity involves:

  1. using relevant examples during explanation
  2. reviewing material (Daily Review)
  3. asking questions to find out if students understood
  4. answering student questions appropriately
  5. repeating things when students did not understand
  6. teaching in a step-by-step manner
  7. providing students with sufficient examples of how to do the work
  8. providing time for practice
  9. teaching the lesson at a pace appropriate to students
  10. explaining things and then stopping so that students could think about it
  11. informing students of lesson objectives or what they were expected to be able to do on completion of instruction
  12. presenting the lesson in a logical manner

[Hines, Cruickshank and Kennedy, “Teacher Clarity and Its Relationship to Student Achievement and Satisfaction,” American Educational Research Journal 22 (1985): 87-99.]


So what can we revise/ consider for the next half term:

  • Look over our SOW and adapt where necessary.
  • Prepare our order of lessons and really consider with precision what direction you want for their learning 
  • Think about behaviour management strategies for those classes/pupils that hasn’t worked or what you haven’t yet tried and could. 
  • Provide clear learning objectives and state what their success criteria and skill set should look like. 
  • Plan and ask in-depth and challenging questions to monitor their progress before moving on.
  • Mark and provide clear, understandable (student friendly) feedback which will ensure our students know how to do better and improve.

failure prepare


Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction- Questioning

‘One of the strongest implications from Rosenshine’s ‘Principles of instruction’ is that effective questioning lies at the heart of great instructional teaching. Lines up with the work of Nuthall, Wiliam and others, It’s clear that this needs to be a highly interactive, dynamic, responsive process.’ (Tom Sherrington)

This week our fantastic Duo Mr Black and Mr Okemadu delivered our Personal Learning Network session on the importance of effective questioning.

Mr Black, Our Head of English spoke about the clarity of the questions we ask, the focus of the question and its intention and of course the idea of involving all students and have them take ownership for their learning.

Cold Calling is Inclusive  (Based on Lemov) ‘Teach Like a Champion’

Mr Black spoke of the importance of engaging all students and ensuring that all pupils were prepared to answer a question and being expected to work hard to find the answer if unsure. The ‘no hands up’ rule is encouraged in his classroom and he chooses wo answers.

Some teachers can be initially very dubious about cold calling and the fear of the unnerving silence in the room. What if pupils don’t answer? What if the room becomes lack lustre and uninspired? However, cold calling, with time and perseverance does exactly the opposite- it prepares all pupils in your room to prepare an answer and be ready to share  with the class. It creates an inclusive and safe atmosphere for all pupils to take risks, share ideas and work together to find the best answer to the question.

Put another way, the Cold Call has already done the hard work—it’s established that students should always be ready to share their thoughts and participate, that to be in class is to be a part of the conversation.  Given that, part of the teacher’s job is to add a smile and some warmth, to message, ‘Yes, I expect you to participate when I call on you, but I am doing that because I want to hear what you are thinking, I care about what you are thinking.’ Really, a Cold Call is a good thing. To say, I care what you are thinking is to remind a student that they matter. 


picture 1

Mr Black also spoke about the technique called ‘Track the Speaker’

track the speaker

Mr Black discussed the idea of making pupils accountable for the questions and answers within the room. He uses the acronym of ‘SLANT’ to ensure that pupils are trained to answer and most importantly listen to each other and learn from their responses.

The next time you are asking questioning- try and pre plan what type of questions and responses you are looking for. Please see the table below for reference.

Discussion Elements Looks Like Sounds Like
Active Listening Eyes on speaker
Hands empty
Sit up
Mind is focused
Face speaker
Speakerís voice only
Paying attention
Appropriate responses
Voices low
One voice at a time
Active Participation
(respond to ideas and share feelings)
Eyes on speaker
Hands to yourself
Hands empty
Talking one at a time
Head nodding
Appropriate responses
Follow off othersí ideas
Nice comments
Positive attitudes
Asking Questions
for Clarification
Hands empty
Positive, nice questions
Polite answers
Off Others’ Ideas
Paying attention
Postive, nice talking
Wait for people to finish
Disagreeing Constructively Nice face
Nice looks
Polite responses
Quiet voices
No put downs
Focused on Discussion
(body posture and eye contact)
Eyes on speaker
Hands empty
Sit up
Face speaker
Mind is focused
Speaker’s voice only
Appropriate responses
Voices low
Supporting Opinions
with Evidence
One person talking
Attention on the speaker
One voice
Encouraging Others Prompt people to share
Ask probing questions
Positive responses

5 Questions to Tackle in Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques

Mr Okemadu then spoke about making Questioning simple in Maths- which was a fascinating concept. He used Blooms to show us that really what we really want pupils to be able to tell us in maths is-

  1. What are we doing?
  2. How are we doing it?
  3. Why are we doing it?

picture 2


The Learning Rainforest by Tom Sherrington suggests the following strategies for effective and responsive questioning: 

  1. Whole class response with whiteboards 
  2. probing and dialogic questions
  3. quick quizzes
  4. Hinge questions
  5. cold-call questioning
  6. randomised questioning

He states that we ‘need to use the feedback you are gaining as a teacher from your students to decide what happens next. More examples? Further explanatory response? More practice? or jumping forward to the next thing.’ 

So this week- think about your questions and try something you haven’t used before. Leave us some feedback- we would love to hear from you.


Principles Of Instruction- Introducing new content

This week our personal Learning network focused on how we introduce new content in our lessons and what strategies we use to do so.

The first area we looked at was the concept of teacher threshold and how we use this in our planning:

“A threshold concept can be considered as akin to a portal, opening up a new and previously inaccessible way of thinking about something. It represents a transformed way of understanding, or interpreting, or viewing something without which the learner cannot progress. As a consequence of comprehending a threshold concept there may thus be a transformed internal view of subject matter, subject landscape, or even world view.” (Meyer and Land, 2003)


We looked at the metacognition theory and how we can incorporate this into our planning and delivery of introducing new content.

  • Metacognition and self-regulation approaches have consistently high levels of impact, with pupils making an average of seven months’ additional progress.
  • Metacognition & Self-regulated learning can be broken into three essential components:
  • cognition – the mental process involved in knowing, understanding, and learning;
  • metacognition – often defined as ‘learning to learn’; and
  • motivation – willingness to engage our metacognitive and cognitive skills.

Discussion was really positive and we brainstormed different ways we could include Metacognition strategies into our lesson. Our main aim was to ensure pupils had individual goals and that they understood how they best learned and in which ideal environment.

We talked a lot about ensuring we adapt our styles to suit the range of need/ learning requirements in our room. Ensuring that not all lessons fit one size. We also talked about experimenting or creating pupil questionnaires to help with our context sheets and planning for pupil progress.

meta 3

These are 7 useful tips to ensure you are planning to include and improve metacognition within your lessons. As a school our focus in Teaching and Learning this year is to improve the achievement within our disadvantaged cohort and help them to improve their independent learning skills.

Our focus in CPD this year is to really increase our knowledge of Educational theories and research and discuss how we can adapt and include these in our practise. Teachers must constantly learn, just like their pupils.

educational theorists

On Tuesday we started to look at Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory 


Gardner’s theory has come under criticism from both psychologists and educators. These critics argue that Gardner’s definition of intelligence is too broad and that his eight different “intelligences” simply represent talents, personality traits, and abilities. Gardner’s theory also suffers from a lack of supporting empirical research.

Despite this, the theory of multiple intelligences enjoys considerable popularity with educators. Many teachers utilize multiple intelligences in their teaching philosophies and work to integrate Gardner’s theory into the classroom.2

Learning more about the multiple intelligences can help you better understand your own strengths. Continue reading to learn more about the major characteristics of each type of intelligence, and if you still aren’t sure which type describes you best, this quiz can help you figure it out.


Below is a fantastic example of how different pupils learn and as an academy we believe it is really important to think about the individuals in our room and how our styles can be adapted or tailored to suit their learning needs.

Top Tip: Try and design a pupil questionnaire for a new topic to understand how many different learning styles you have in your room- this will help massively with planning and the activities you will use. Use the information below to help you

Visual-Spatial Intelligence

Strengths: Visual and spatial judgment

People who are strong in visual-spatial intelligence are good at visualizing things. These individuals are often good with directions as well as maps, charts, videos, and pictures.3


Characteristics of visual-spatial intelligence include:

  • Enjoys reading and writing
  • Good at putting puzzles together
  • Good at interpreting pictures, graphs, and charts
  • Enjoys drawing, painting, and the visual arts
  • Recognizes patterns easily

Potential Career Choices

If you’re strong in visual-spatial intelligence, good career choices for you are:

  • Architect
  • Artist
  • Engineer

Strengths: Words, language, and writing

People who are strong in linguistic-verbal intelligence are able to use words well, both when writing and speaking. These individuals are typically very good at writing stories, memorizing information, and reading.1


Characteristics of linguistic-verbal intelligence include:

  • Good at remembering written and spoken information
  • Enjoys reading and writing
  • Good at debating or giving persuasive speeches
  • Able to explain things well
  • Often uses humour when telling stories 

If you’re strong in linguistic-verbal intelligence, good career choices for you are:

  • Writer/journalist
  • Lawyer
  • Teacher

Strengths: Analysing problems and mathematical operations

People who are strong in logical-mathematical intelligence are good at reasoning, recognizing patterns, and logically analysing problems. These individuals tend to think conceptually about numbers, relationships, and patterns.


Characteristics of logical-mathematical intelligence include:

  • Excellent problem-solving skills
  • Enjoys thinking about abstract ideas
  • Likes conducting scientific experiments
  • Good at solving complex computation

If you’re strong in logical-mathematical intelligence, good career choices for you are:

  • Scientist
  • Mathematician
  • Computer programmer
  • Engineer
  • Accountant

Bodily-Kinaesthetic Intelligence

Strengths: Physical movement, motor control

Those who have high bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence are said to be good at body movement, performing actions, and physical control. People who are strong in this area tend to have excellent hand-eye coordination and dexterity.4


Characteristics of bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence include:

  • Good at dancing and sports
  • Enjoys creating things with his or her hands
  • Excellent physical coordination
  • Tends to remember by doing, rather than hearing or seeing

Potential Career Choices

If you’re strong in bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence, good career choices for you are:

  • Dancer
  • Builder
  • Sculptor
  • Actor

Musical Intelligence

Strengths: Rhythm and music

People who have strong musical intelligence are good at thinking in patterns, rhythms, and sounds. They have a strong appreciation for music and are often good at musical composition and performance.5


Characteristics of musical intelligence include:

  • Enjoys singing and playing musical instruments
  • Recognizes musical patterns and tones easily
  • Good at remembering songs and melodies
  • Rich understanding of musical structure, rhythm, and notes

Potential Career Choices

If you’re strong in musical intelligence, good career choices for you are:

  • Musician
  • Composer
  • Singer
  • Music teacher
  • Conductor

Interpersonal Intelligence

Strengths: Understanding and relating to other people

Those who have strong interpersonal intelligence are good at understanding and interacting with other people. These individuals are skilled at assessing the emotions, motivations, desires, and intentions of those around them.5


Characteristics of interpersonal intelligence include:

  • Good at communicating verbally
  • Skilled at nonverbal communication
  • Sees situations from different perspectives
  • Creates positive relationships with others
  • Good at resolving conflict in groups

Potential Career Choices

If you’re strong in interpersonal intelligence, good career choices for you are:

  • Psychologist
  • Philosopher
  • Counselor
  • Salesperson
  • Politician

Intrapersonal Intelligence

Strengths: Introspection and self-reflection

Individuals who are strong in intrapersonal intelligence are good at being aware of their own emotional states, feelings, and motivations. They tend to enjoy self-reflection and analysis, including daydreaming, exploring relationships with others, and assessing their personal strengths.5


Characteristics of intrapersonal intelligence include:

  • Good at analysing his or her strengths and weaknesses
  • Enjoys analysing theories and ideas
  • Excellent self-awareness
  • Clearly understands the basis for his or her own motivations and feelings

Potential Career Choices

If you’re strong in intrapersonal intelligence, good career choices for you are:

  • Philosopher
  • Writer
  • Theorist
  • Scientist

Naturalistic Intelligence

Strengths: Finding patterns and relationships to nature

Naturalistic is the most recent addition to Gardner’s theory and has been met with more resistance than his original seven intelligences. According to Gardner, individuals who are high in this type of intelligence are more in tune with nature and are often interested in nurturing, exploring the environment, and learning about other species. These individuals are said to be highly aware of even subtle changes to their environments.1


Characteristics of naturalistic intelligence include:

  • Interested in subjects such as botany, biology, and zoology
  • Good at categorizing and cataloguing information easily
  • May enjoy camping, gardening, hiking, and exploring the outdoors
  • Doesn’t enjoy learning unfamiliar topics that have no connection to nature

Potential Career Choices

If you’re strong in naturalistic intelligence, good career choices for you are:

  • Biologist
  • Conservationist
  • Gardener
  • Farmer

Information obtained from

multiple intelligences

The Principles of Instruction- Daily Review.

It is a brand new year and CPD at Westfield Academy has begun with full gusto and enthusiasm. 

On Tuesday we had our first Personal Learning Network session where we looked at the first of Rosenshine’s ‘Principles of Instruction.’ Our aim this year is to bridge the gap between research and practice and ensure our pupils are receiving the best education in every classroom in our Academy. 

The purpose of our Personal Learning Network is for colleagues to share best practice and to provide one another with tips, tricks and well-rehearsed strategies that get the best outcomes in our subjects. We are really focusing on how we bridge the gap for our disadvantaged pupils and ensure they have the best possible outcomes at GCSE and A Level. This week we looked at the power of Daily Review. 

Below is a list of tried and tested strategies to embed Daily Review into our lessons. 

Daily Review

What is the purpose of a Daily Review?

1.     To check understanding

2.     Test key concepts have been embedded

3.     Create opportunities which stretch and challenge previous knowledge and concepts

The 4-minute summary

Actively engaging students during a lecture class can come through many formats.  The 4-Minute Summary is a versatile pedagogy that can be readily applied to any class format (e.g., traditional, flipped), any class size, and any content.  Students benefit by engaging with peers while at the same time recapping and recalling content in their own words.     

The 4-Minute Summary allows students to

1.      engage with peers,

2.      engage with content,

3.      recap/recall content in their own words,

4.      practice speaking the content and

5.      provide a venue for questions to be answered.

Sketch what you know

This is a fantastic way to change up how you review pupil understanding. This can be achieved in their books or on a mini whiteboard.  

Diamond 9 display

A really simple and effective way to enable pupils to order/ rank/name key concepts of the previous lesson. It can be created as a paired/ group activity or a simple diagram in their books. You could even make it an interactive board activity.

diamond 9

The three Rs- Revise, Recite, Recall

Memory retention is one of the biggest barriers to learning and progression. Embed moments within the lesson to help aid pupils long term memory.

This can be done in a series of ways- chant, song, beat, actions


It is important to remember: ‘If teachers are going to be successful in improving their practice (and pupil outcomes), they have to be working consciously and deliberately to do so. Teachers need to be working on developing better habits, seeking to be more effective day in, day out when nobody else except their students is looking’ ‘Rosenshine’s Principles in Action’ by Tom Sherrington 2019.