The Barry Jones Archive

'Barry Jones was a highly respected, influential and inspirational Teacher Educator, well known throughout the UK. Over a 40 year career he wrote prolifically for pupils, student teachers and experienced teachers. Before he died in 2015 he selected those publications which he felt would be most useful for future student teachers and bequeathed them to ALL. They consist of chapters in books, pamphlets, journal articles and whole books. Read on for more information on his collection.' - Ann Swarbrick, former ALL President and editor of Barry Jones' selected writings.

Teaching is a complex and messy business. This makes it one of the most interesting and exciting professions on the planet. Complex but doable. There are many books which provide a huge number of examples of ideas which you could try out in a classroom. Only a minority ask you to step back and assess who your learners really are - Can they concentrate for very long? Are they interested? Can they be motivated by what you are offering them? Are they best left, at times, to work on their own or does it all need to be up front teaching? No-one can tell you the answers to these questions about a particular class. And as a student teacher, though it’s painful to have to tell you this, you‘ll get further searching for answers than you will by being told. Any answers will be provisional anyway. We can ask you a question in November, for which you can give a convincing answer - and one which you’ll be persuaded is the right one. And yet, when we ask you the same question in July, you may have a different view.
What’s the skill of the teacher? I think it’s breaking everything down into tiny steps.

Some questions to help you do this when planning:
• What are the different stages of the lesson?
• Do these make sense when put together?
• How much do you know about what interests your pupils?
• How will you get them engaged with your content?
• Is there a purpose to the activities the pupils are set to do which they can discern?
• How long will they need to concentrate in each stage of the lesson?

The problem for you as a student teacher is keeping perspective. You may feel that you have to have all of the answers to all of your questions on the first day of your course. But you can’t. That’s not healthy, nor is it possible.
Teaching ‘tips’ are OK when you have competence and experience. But you need to know why things work and why they don’t. This takes time. So give it time and be ready to experiment. This bank of readings, which I’ve written over forty years, will help you formulate questions as well as giving you ideas to consider. I’ve grouped them under six headings:

The readings are full of tried and tested teaching ideas. They may work with some classes, but not with others. The thing is to try them and then ask yourself why they did or didn’t work.

Barry Jones

University of Cambridge

Barry Jones