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Teachers’ standards 4: Plan and teach well-structured lessons

The headings on this page are the statements in the Teachers’ Standards that all new teachers must meet. The series of questions for each statement are prompts for new geography teachers to think about. They should use these prompts to discuss their training with their geography mentor and evaluate their progress. These questions are not intended to be a further set of ‘standards’ to be met.


To plan and teach well-structured geography lessons, you must do the following:


Impart knowledge and develop understanding through effective use of lesson time

  • Do I plan and teach effective geography lessons that draw on my subject knowledge, and my understanding of progression, assessment and good questioning?
  • Do my lessons and plans build on students’ previous geographical learning and their personal experiences?
  • Do my lesson plans clearly outline what students are expected to learn and how lesson time will be managed to achieve this?
  • Do I carefully select the teaching style, strategy and activities that I will use in each lesson to lead to the required learning?
  • Do I always use lesson time effectively to challenge students to think hard about geography?
  • Do I always consider how I will both support and stretch all students in my lessons?
  • Are my explanations clear, building on students’ prior understanding and do I draw effectively on illustrations, analogies and examples when necessary?
  • When modelling for students, do I narrate thought processes so that students develop an understanding of how geographers think and do I point out to them any potential pitfalls?
  • Do I use questioning effectively to check students’ geographical knowledge and understanding?
  • Do my lessons give students opportunities for high-quality classroom talk? Do I use both teacher and student talk in the classroom to promote geographical learning?
  • Have I explored dialogic teaching?
  • Can I manage paired and group activities to maximise collaborative learning?
  • Can I plan and manage lessons for geographical enquiries?
  • Do my lessons always give students sufficient opportunity to consolidate newly acquired geographical knowledge and to practise applying geographical skills?
  • Do I help students to use metacognitive strategies and develop as autonomous learners?
  • Do I make effective use of a range of resources to teach geography, including texts and digital resources, visual images and maps that support students’ geographical learning?
  • Do I make effective use of homework?


Promote a love of learning and children’s intellectual curiosity

  • Do I make geography a relevant experience for my students?
  • Do I stimulate students’ interest in places and encourage their ‘awe and wonder’?
  • Do I encourage students to ask questions, undertake enquiries and think geographically?
  • Do I make good use of discussions, visual images and first-hand experience through fieldwork to widen students’ view of the world?
  • Do I enable students’ critical thinking and problem solving in my lessons?
  • Do I teach students metacognitive strategies to support their independent learning?
  • Do I find out if my students enjoy their geographical learning?


Set homework and plan other out-of-class activities to consolidate and extend the knowledge and understanding students have acquired

  • Do I set homework that is worthwhile and consolidates/develops work done during lessons and supports geographical learning?
  • Do I encourage students to undertake independent study and take responsibility for their own learning?
  • Am confident in using fieldwork to extend students’ geographical learning?
  • Do I use the local area for fieldwork or a context for homework?


Reflect systematically on the effectiveness of lessons and approaches to teaching

  • Do I reflect on the effectiveness of my lessons, and evaluate pedagogical approaches I have used?
  • Are my explanations clearly understood by students and do I avoid misconceptions?
  • Do I use the outcomes of these reflections to inform my future planning and teaching?
  • Do I collate the main issues and ideas from all feedback (my own and others) and use this specifically when planning future work?
  • Do I always consider students’ learning when I evaluate lessons and schemes of work?
  • Do I read recent, relevant research and theories relevant to good classroom practice in geography teaching? Do I consider these critically and apply some of these ideas in my planning and teaching?
  • Have I undertaken some small-scale action research in my lessons and used the results to improve my teaching?
  • Do I change and adapt lessons based on the reaction, engagement and feedback of students?
  • Have I formally sought the feedback of students on lessons?


Contribute to the design and provision of an engaging curriculum within the relevant subject area(s)

  • Have I read widely about the geography curriculum, studied the design of different forms of geography curricula in schools and explored the different approaches that geography teachers use?
  • Have I demonstrated that I can plan a sequence of lessons to develop students’ geographical learning?
  • Can I plan for students’ progress in geography? And plan how to assess whether they have made progress?
  • Do I select geography materials carefully for lessons and units of work and evaluate them critically for: bias and stereotyping; curriculum relevance; accessibility by all students?
  • Can I plan for the use of technology, including GIS, in the geography curriculum?


Where to find support?

For support in achieving this Standard, start with Classroom practice in geography.

You will also find information in these pages useful:

Discuss how to plan and teach well-structured geography lessons with your geography mentor who can advise you how to develop these further and what reading you should do. Talk to as many other geography teachers as you can about how they teach effective and high quality geography lessons.

Teachers’ standards 4: Plan and teach well-structured lessons