Teaching and learning


This page covers:

  • What is teaching and learning?
  • Support for teaching and learning
  • Starting point
  • Formal and informal approaches
  • Beginning the session
  • Developing the session
  • Ending the session
  • Teaching and learning resources for immediate download

What is teaching and learning?

It's a way of checking for a change in behaviour of your learners. This change might relate to the performance of a skill, the demonstration of understanding and/or a change in behaviour and attitudes. This way, you are able to see the progress and achievement your learners are making. You will teach, and your learners will learn. However, it’s not about you, it’s about your learners and the learning which is taking place. You can teach all you like but if your learners don’t learn anything, it’s meaningless.

Using different teaching and learning approaches and activities will help learning to take place. Think of these as the techniques which can enable learners to be actively engaged during the session and not just passively listening to you talking. They should be fit for purpose, i.e. to enable learning to take place. They should not be used for the sake of it or because you like to do things in a certain way. 

The  mental health and emotional well-being of teachers is important to your role. You can find out more here: https://www.et-foundation.co.uk/supporting/mental_health/?utm_campaign=433532_December%20courses%20-...

Support for teaching and learning

The following text is adapted from the above book: Principles and Practices of Teaching and Training.
The other book contains practical ideas to put theory into practice.

Starting point

Whilst you might be extremely knowledgeable and experienced with your subject, until you try and teach it to someone else, you won’t really know if you are good at teaching or even if you will enjoy it. The starting point will be to decide what it is your learners need to know and in what order, for example, from a qualification specification or a job description. You can then decide how you will facilitate the learning process using a variety of teaching, learning and assessment approaches and activities. 

Varying what you do during your sessions will give your learners more chances to engage with the subject. For example, a mixture of discussions, group activities, questions, demonstrations and role plays. You can plan how to do this by using a scheme of work for the whole programme, and session plans for each individual session (see the resources towards the end of this page). 

There may be times when you find that your learners know something that you don’t. This is fine, don’t be embarrassed as you can acknowledge your learner’s input and encourage other learners to contribute too. Your learners can also learn from each other. They won’t all have had the same experiences as each other in the past, therefore you can embrace this during your sessions.  A group profile will help you keep a note of each of your learner's experiences and needs (see the resources towards the end of this page).

You can take an introductory qualification called the Award in Education and Training to find out more about teaching and learning.
If you are working towards a teaching qualification, guidance for completing the units for the Award and Certificate can be found by scrolling down this page.


Formal and informal approaches

Formal teaching approaches include lectures, demonstrations, instruction and presentations which are usually teacher-centred, known as pedagogy. Learners are often passive and it might be difficult to assess that learning has taken place.

Informal approaches include discussions, group work, practical activities and role plays, and are usually learner-centred, known as andragogy. These approaches let you see what has been learnt and you can ask questions to check knowledge and understanding.

Whenever possible, it’s best to use a mixture of the two and vary the activities used and the time spent on each. This will ensure that all learners are included and can participate, and will enable you to assess that learning is taking place. See the resources towards the end of this page for a table of teaching and learning approaches and activities.

Teaching and learning should not be in isolation from the assessment process. You can check that learning is taking place each time you are with your learners. This can simply be done by observing practice or asking questions.

Ideally, sessions should have a beginning, middle and ending. Think of this as the introduction, development and conclusion. You will also need to create and/or use relevant resources to bring your subject to life (see the resources towards the end of this page for a table of resources to use for teaching and learning).  

Beginning the session

When commencing a session, if you are unsure what to say to gather your learners’ attention, start with Welcome to the session, today we will... in a louder than normal, but assertive voice. It’s useful to have a session plan (see the resources towards the end of this page) to guide you with your topics and timings, and to state the aim and objectives to your learners. Always check if your learners have any prior knowledge and/or experience of the current topic. This can simply be by asking questions or using a starter activity or quiz (see the resources towards the end of this page). You can then draw upon their responses as you progress through the session. Never assume your learners know or don’t know something, always check.

Developing the session

Try and ensure your session flows progressively, i.e. is delivered in a logical order and assesses progress continually. When changing topics, try to link them together somehow or summarise one before moving on to the other. Break aspects down into smaller manageable chunks and don’t be afraid of repeating, recapping and asking questions.

As you continue with your teaching and learning approaches and activities (see the resources towards the end of this page), allow time for questioning and for reinforcing important points. Only move on when you are sure your learners have understood the current topic. Incorporate the knowledge and experience of your learners and, if you can, give relevant anecdotes from your own experiences to bring the subject to life. Try and relate what you are teaching to how the learners will benefit from it.

Try not to use the word obvious as things are only obvious to you. Show interest, passion and enthusiasm for your subject and encourage your learners to take pride in their work. Use tone and inflection to emphasise key points and don’t be afraid of silent pauses; they will give you time to refocus and give your learners time to consider what you have said. Use eye contact when you can and use your learners’ names as this shows you are interested in them as individuals. You might want to move around the room rather than stay in the same position at the front. This will give you a chance to check that your learners are focussed and shows them you are in control.

If you feel you are overrunning on your timings, don’t be afraid to carry something over to the next session, cut it out altogether, or to give as homework or self-study material. Alternatively, you can adjust the timings of the other activities to reduce or increase them as necessary. Don’t feel you must keep to the number of minutes you have written on your session plan for each activity. It’s more important to ensure learning is taking place than to keep to your timings. If your learners tend to ask lots of questions and you are running short of time, ask them to write them on a piece of paper or a sticky note. You can collect them in and address them at the end of the session or at the beginning of the following session. If your learners have access to an online learning environment, you could post your responses on there.

The Education and Training Foundation has information to support outstanding teaching, learning and assessment here: https://www.et-foundation.co.uk/supporting/support-practitioners/improvements-in-teacher-learning-an...


Ending the session

When you summarise the topic at the end of the session, try not to introduce anything new as this might confuse your learners. However, you should explain what will be covered in the next session (if applicable) and make clear what homework or self-study activities the learners need to do. You should allow some time for questions from your learners and you can finish with a closing activity or quiz if you have time (see the resources towards the end of this page).

Try not to end a session with ‘Does anyone have any questions?’ as often only those who are keen or confident will ask. This doesn’t tell you what has been learnt and might exclude some learners who might be shy, or do not want to embarrass themselves in front of the group.

Don’t forget to evaluate how the session went i.e. consider what went well, what didn’t and what you would change for next time. You could keep a reflective learning journal to help you (see the resources towards the end of this page).

Teaching and learning resources available for immediate download

If you are working towards a teaching qualification, guidance for completing the units for the Award and Certificate can be found by scrolling down this page.

Table of teaching and learning approaches & activities with their strengths and limitations (£2.50)
(Ref A9058)
17 page table listing over 80 different teaching and learning approaches & activities with their strengths and limitations.

Table of resources which could be used for teaching and learning (£1.00)
(Ref H9012)
1 page table listing over 100 resources which can be used when delivering sessions.

Starter and closing activities (£1.00)
(Ref H9031)
2 pages of information explaining what starter and closing activities are, along with examples of each.

Facilitating group learning (£1.50)
(Ref H9034)
3 pages of information about how you can facilitate learning with groups. Includes examples of limitations, how you can manage small group activities and successfully conclude group activities.

Facilitating individual learning (£1.00)
(Ref H9035)
2 pages of information about how you can build up a professional working relationship with a learner and facilitate learning. Includes a task analysis template to help break down a topic for one-to-one learning purposes.

Teaching, learning and assessment checklist (£1.50)
(Ref HC012)
A comprehensive 4 page checklist containing over 100 questions based on the five aspects of the teaching, learning and assessment cycle. It should help all teachers ensure they are performing their role effectively when delivering sessions.

Template – Scheme of Work (in Word) (50p)
(Ref AT014)
1 page pro-forma with relevant headings and boxes to help structure the content of a scheme of work. Can easily be adapted to suit your own requirements. See below for a completed example: Ref M9060

Completed Example of a Scheme of Work (£2.00)
2 page example based on an Introduction to Information Communication Technology (ICT) Level 1 programme. First, second and last sessions are shown. See above for a blank template in Word: Ref AT014

Template - Session Plan (in Word) (£1.00)
(Ref AT007)
1 page pro-forma with relevant headings and boxes to help structure the content of a session plan. Can easily be adapted to suit your own requirements. See below for a completed example: Ref M9062

Completed Example of a Session Plan (£2.00)
(Ref M9062)
2 page example of a completed three hour session plan (for the first session from the scheme of work about using ICT, which is available to purchase separately Ref M9060 - see two items above this). Includes examples of SMART objectives, appropriate timings, resources, teaching, learning and assessment activities. See above for a blank session plan in Word: Ref AT007

Group profile (in Word) (£1.00)

(Ref AT024) 

1 page template to add details regarding individual learners. It includes columns for: name, age, gender/ethnicity, learner preferences, prior skills/knowledge, initial and diagnostic assessment results, learning/learner needs/support requirements, barriers/challenges, attendance & behaviour concerns, additional targets.

Programme/course evaluation (in Word) (£1.00)

(Ref AT015)
1 page template with 13 questions for learners to answer, with responses of 1-4 for each. Can easily be adapted to suit your own programme or course evaluation requirements.

Template – Reflective Learning Journal (in Word) (50p)
(Ref AT005)
1 page template which can be used as a reflective learning journal. Helps focus thought by explaining, describing, analysing and revising actions. See below for a completed example: Ref I9015A

Completed Example of a Reflective Learning Journal (£1.50)
(Ref I9015A)
2 page completed example of a reflective learning journal. See above for a blank template in Word: Ref AT005

  • Reading lists for teaching and learning can be found by clicking here.
  • Resources to support teachers and learners of the teaching qualifications can be found by clicking here.
  • Videos can be seen by clicking here.
  • You could read about micro-teaching and lesson observations.

  • More resources are available, click here for details.