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Pedagogy for All

I AM FASCINATED by pedagogy. The way teachers interact with their students, the way they think about learning, and the approaches they take to delivering curricular, are arguably the biggest factors determining students’ experiences of education.

As a student, I hated school. And yet, I had many friends who flourished in the same classrooms. So, I have long held the notion that it’s not so much ‘what’ we teach but rather how, when & why we teach (and assess, support, encourage, challenge, scaffold, listen, wait, and so on).

My working life has therefore been dedicated towards building a better understanding of pedagogy. By working closely with researchers, digging deeply into meta-analyses, witnessing excellent practice in classrooms around the world, and trying out every approach many times over, I have formed (and continue to improve) a set of principles and practices that improve student learning.

So, I invite you to peruse this page and decide which topic(s) might be most relevant. I don’t have any prefab presentations – so feel free to choose any mix of topics that ‘speak’ to you. I will then design something specially for your context.

Areas of Pedagogy

  • CHALLENGE – creating optimal levels of challenge for all students.
  • DEPTH & BREADTH OF LEARNING – when & how to move students from surface knowledge to deep learning.
  • EARLY YEARS – how staff working with 2-7-year-olds can boost learning outcomes for all children.
  • ENGAGEMENT – identifying what engagement means, how to recognise it and – most importantly – how to boost it.
  • EFFICACY (Self & Collective) – boosting student (& staff) agency.
  • EQUITY – strategies to boost learning for all students, particularly vulnerable groups.
  • FEEDBACK – improving students’ willingness to receive feedback positively and use it productively.
  • GROWTH MINDSET – acting in the belief that it is always possible to improve.
  • LEADING LEARNING – how to create alignment with shared goals and grow everyone’s talents.
  • LEARNING PIT – building a shared language for students to articulate their learning journey.
  • LEARNING HOW TO LEARN – teaching students how to become more effective thinkers & communicators.
  • PHILOSOPHY FOR CHILDREN (P4C) – one of the best approaches to developing critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinking.
  • PROGRESS – building routines to emphasise and boost progress so that all students achieve more effectively.
  • QUESTIONING – adapting questioning techniques so that it widens participation and deepens learning for all students.
  • THINKING SKILLS – developing students’ thinking so that it is more effective, ethical, social, creative and judicious.

Student Outcomes

  • Articulate
  • Balanced
  • Caring
  • Confident
  • Communicator
  • Creative
  • Critical Thinker
  • Curious

Research Categories

  • Collective teacher efficacy 1.36
  • Jigsaw method 1.20
  • Curiosity .90
  • Success criteria .88
  • Transfer strategies .86
  • Classroom discussion .82
  • Ethical
  • Inquirer
  • Intellectual Risk Taker
  • Knowledgeable
  • Reflective
  • Resilient
  • Strategic
  • Wise

Challenge

Challenge is necessary for learning. It causes a ‘stirring of thinking’ (Vygotsky, 1978), leads to a boost in self-efficacy (Ciftci & Yildiz, 2019), and ensures lessons ‘stick’ (Roediger et al., 2011). It is also a necessary condition in developing learners who stive to be inquirers, thinkers, risk-takers, open-minded and reflective. However, challenge also causes a temporary decrease in performance and progress (Willingham, 2021). Thus, students need to believe in the long-term benefits of challenge before they will willingly engage.

Choose this topic if you would like me to cover the Goldilocks’ principle; the benefits and practicalities of desirable difficulties; ways to adapt praise to increase motivation for challenge; and how to prepare students for the inevitable performance dips they will experience when stepping out of their comfort zones.

Books I’ve written that give further research & practical ideas (in order of relevance): TEACH Brilliantly (2024); The Learning Challenge (2017); Challenging Early Learning (2018); Challenging Learning (1st Ed., 2010; 2nd Ed., 2016).

Depth & Breadth of Learning

Students generally acquire lots of knowledge from a content-rich curriculum, but when and how do they gain depth as well as breadth? After all, to be knowledgeable is a good start but engaged learners should also understand, reflect upon, and be able to apply their learning in ‘real-life’, cross-curricular and complex situations.

Choose this topic if you would like to use: the SOLO Taxonomy to clearly identify levels of learning; the ASK Model to create holistic learning; practical strategies for knowing when and how to move students from surface learning to deep understanding; and techniques to boost transfer and metacognition skills.

Books I’ve written that give further research & practical ideas (in order of relevance): TEACH Brilliantly (2024); Challenging Learning Through Feedback (2017); The Learning Challenge (2017); Challenging Early Learning (2018).

Early Years

Every topic on this page is suitable for K-12 schools, colleges and university students. Many are also very relevant for early childhood settings. My first job in a school was with 1-5-year-olds and I have worked with many hundreds of nurseries, pre-schools, day-care centres and kindergartens as a consultant. Throughout this time, I have developed a range of strategies to help all young children enjoy and seek out learning. Indeed, my book Challenging Early Learning (2018) was written specially for staff working with children aged 2-7.

Some of the key topics I help EY staff with include making the best use of feedback and praise to better support, encourage and challenge young learners; developing a growth mindset in young children and their families; and engaging and enhancing children’s skills of inquiry and thinking.

Choose this topic if  a) you would like to a) understand the best ways to amplify, draw attention and celebrate progress; b) address the principal reasons why progress for some students is disappointingly low (including demotivation, lack of persistence, and poor self-image); and c) build class and school systems for boosting progress, leading to improved achievement.

Books I’ve written that give further research & practical ideas (in order of relevance): Challenging Mindset (2018); TEACH Brilliantly (2024); Challenging Early Learning (2018); Challenging Learning (1st Ed., 2010; 2nd Ed., 2016).

Engagement

In my latest book, TEACH Brilliantly, I describe engagement as: “when students’ thinking is focused on the topic, action or meaning that is relevant to the progress you wish them to make.” Often though, as Berry (2023) reports, engagement is recognised as students ‘doing their work’ or giving signs of attentiveness in the hope of gaining teacher approval. So how, then, does one recognise genuine engagement and perhaps more importantly, what can be done to boost it?

Choose this topic if you’d like to a) boost engagement beyond the average of 50% of students (according to Yair, 2000; Hodges, 2023); b) know when and how to include the ‘wow’ moment of the lesson for sustained engagement; and c) use strategies to deepen thinking (thus reducing the need for any ‘attentive façade’).

Books I’ve written that give further research & practical ideas: TEACH Brilliantly (2024).

Efficacy (Self & Collective)

Collective and self-efficacy come from Stanford psychologist Albert Bandura (1977). They are connected to the construct of agency (the ability to make things happen) and to confidence. Many studies have found that individuals (in the case of self-efficacy) and teams (in the case of collective efficacy) who have a strong belief in their abilities to overcome challenges and improve results, do exactly that … achieve more! Little wonder then that efficacy is such an attractive proposition. Unfortunately, though, it is also a somewhat elusive quality unless significant and sustained attention is paid to the mental models and classroom structures at work in your school.

Choose this topic if  a) you would like to a) understand the best ways to amplify, draw attention and celebrate progress; b) address the principal reasons why progress for some students is disappointingly low (including demotivation, lack of persistence, and poor self-image); and c) build class and school systems for boosting progress, leading to improved achievement.

Books I’ve written that give further research & practical ideas (in order of relevance): Challenging Mindset (2018); TEACH Brilliantly (2024); Challenging Early Learning (2018); Challenging Learning (1st Ed., 2010; 2nd Ed., 2016).

Equity

The field upon which students play is not level. Race, culture, gender, socio-economic status, comparative age, and special educational needs can all be used to predict who is likely to succeed and who is not; who is likely to be sanctioned for discipline infractions and who is not; who will graduate, be involved in criminal justice, win awards, receive grants, or be chosen to represent their school.  It shouldn’t, but a student’s identity matters. (The Attainment Gap, 2017; Datnow & Park, 2018)

Choose this topic if you want to a) know how to adjust everyday pedagogical practices – such as questioning, praise and feedback – so that vulnerable students make significant gains; b) discover ‘close the gap’ strategies such as preview and grouping by learning; and c) design learning intentions so that every single student makes excellent progress.

Books I’ve written that give further research & practical ideas: TEACH Brilliantly (2024).

Feedback

The impact of feedback on student learning is extraordinarily well researched. Hattie (2023), for example, includes 2000 studies about feedback in Visible Learning: The Sequel. This compares with just 22 studies about school choice, 30 studies about screentime and 181 about class size. You might think, therefore, that little more needs to be said about feedback. Yet, in 30 years as a teacher and consultant, responses to the key points I share about feedback tend to be, ‘why didn’t we know this?’ or ‘why haven’t we done this before?’ Not that I’m casting aspersions – far from it. When there’s so much spoken and written about feedback, it’s little wonder that most of us block out the noise and rely instead on well-rehearsed routines! That said, there are small tweaks that can be made that lead to significant gains in student learning.

Choose this topic if you want to a) give feedback in such a way that students understand and use it brilliantly; b) be clear about what matters – and what really doesn’t – when it comes to feedback routines; c) understand some of the best ways to develop students’ assessment capabilities.

Books I’ve written that give further research & practical ideas (in order of relevance): Challenging Learning Through Feedback (2017); TEACH Brilliantly (2024); Challenging Early Learning (2018); Challenging Learning (1st Ed., 2010; 2nd Ed., 2016).

Growth Mindset

Growth mindset holds a curious position in education. Some claim is it another bandwagon like learning styles or brain gym (for which there is no reliable evidence) – despite decades of precise and careful research, five published meta-analyses and 325 peer-reviewed studies. Others say the effect sizes (d = 0.08 to 0.28) are too small to invest time and effort even though many of these effects came from 2 x 25-minute web-based interventions (Yeager, et al., 2019).

The reality is: the impact of being in a growth mindset can be considerable. Learners tend to be more receptive to feedback; to proactively seek out ways to improve; and to approach challenging tasks with a positive and strategic outlook. Most significantly perhaps, people in a growth mindset are better able to bounce back from setbacks and failure.

Choose this topic if you want to a) understand the nuances of the research as well as the urban myths to avoid; b) know the school and classroom set-ups that encourage a growth mindset and those that get in the way; and c) choose the best strategies for creating a culture of student – and staff – growth. Having co-presented with Carol Dweck at more than 30 conferences, I am in a great position to help you with all this!

Books I’ve written that give further research & practical ideas (in order of relevance): Challenging Mindset (2018); TEACH Brilliantly (2024); Challenging Early Learning (2018).

High Expectations

Expectations refer to the “inferences that teachers make about the present and future academic achievement and general classroom behaviour of their students” (Good and Brophy, 1997. p. 79). When we hold high expectations, student outcomes range from high to very high (effect sizes of d = 0.50 to 1.44); whereas when we hold low expectations, this drops dramatically (effect sizes of d = -0.03 to 0.20). Some of the notable characteristics of high expectations include expecting improvements for all students (not just those with good attitudes or prior success); challenge that is closely matched to individual needs; using fluid grouping based on current learning; and spending less time on crowd control and more on formative feedback.

Choose this topic if you want to a) understand the ten most important values and strategies that will lift expectations; b) build students’ confidence and interest in their studies in line with teachers’ rising expectations; and c) how to accelerate learning for every single student.

Books I’ve written that give further research & practical ideas (in order of relevance): Challenging Mindset (2018); TEACH Brilliantly (2024).

Leading Learning

Leadership is an attitude, not just an appointed position. By choosing leadership, everyone gains – staff and students. As Viviane Robinson (2007) shows in her meta-analyses, the five dimensions making the biggest difference are providing big picture goals of learning; aligning everyone towards these goals; learning how to learn together; engaging in analysis; and selecting and developing the tools needed to reach these goals.

As an experienced leader, firstly in a range of school and district contexts then as the founder and director of seven independent consultancies in seven countries, I bring deep understanding of this fascinating approach to growing human potential.

Choose this topic if you want to understand a) the mental models that are needed to grow towards your vision as well as those that are likely to be hampering your efforts; b) how to deal with resistance so that they become your mission’s strongest advocates; and c) how to achieve a balance between management (dealing effectively with the present) and leadership (deciding and designing the future).

Books I’ve written that give further research & practical ideas (in order of relevance): Challenging Mindset (2018); TEACH Brilliantly (2024).

The Learning Pit

Doing a search online for the ‘Learning Pit’ results in hundreds of millions of hits. As its creator, this makes me a happy man! However, with this popularity comes a few problems. It is, after all, much more than just a nice image to encourage students to step out of their comfort zone. Used effectively, it can also help to improve questioning (teachers’ and students’ questions), collective and self-efficacy, resilience, dialogic teaching and metacognition. Indeed, if you really want to jump in with both feet, it can guide and improve inquiry and concept-based teaching.

Choose this topic if you want a) your students to be more willing to step out of their comfort zone; b) your students to build a shared language of learning that will support their group work and metacognition; and c) you want learners who are inquirers, communicators, open-minded, caring, risk takers.

Books I’ve written that give further research & practical ideas (in order of relevance): The Learning Pit (2020); The Learning Challenge (2017); TEACH Brilliantly (2024); Challenging Early Learning (2018); Learning Challenge Lessons: Elementary (2018); Learning Challenge Lessons: ELA (2019); Challenging Learning (1st Ed., 2010; 2nd Ed., 2016).

Learning To Learn

When students link ideas, concepts, skills, and theories together, they form a more complete understanding of the world around them. This facilitates the move from surface to deep learning. If these connections also reach across disciplines, then transferability is enhanced. All of this leads to students learning how to learn.

Placing these qualities at the heart of lessons should include classroom discussion, exploratory talk, effective questioning, and transfer strategies.

Choose this topic if you want your students to a) build a shared language of learning that supports their group work and metacognition; b) ask better questions and participate more effectively; c) learn how to be principled, caring and reflective citizens; and d) become more effective thinkers and communicators.

Books I’ve written that give further research & practical ideas (in order of relevance): The Learning Challenge (2017); TEACH Brilliantly (2024); Challenging Early Learning (2018); Encouraging Learning (2013); Challenging Learning (1stEd., 2010; 2nd Ed., 2016).

Philosophy for Children (P4C)

The underlying principle of P4C is for students to experience rational and reasonable dialogue about things that matter to them and their teachers. All participants work together in a ‘community of inquiry’. The aim for every participant is to become clearer, more accurate, less self-contradictory and better aware of other arguments and values before reaching a conclusion.

It is fair to say that P4C underpins everything I do within education. My major at university in the early 1990s was in P4C. My practice has appeared in TV documentaries (1999 & 2016) and in 2010, I co-founded P4C.com, an online resource and collaboration cooperative. Often, I combine P4C with other areas of pedagogy (for example, dialogue, challenge or mindset) but when invited to share P4C in its ‘pure’ sense, I am always delighted!

Choose this topic if a) you would like your students to develop critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinking; b) you would find it useful to understand which resources and inquiry structures make P4C relevant for students of all ages; and c) you’d like to see me using P4C with your students (you are welcome to record these demonstration lessons).

Books I’ve written that give further research & practical ideas (in order of relevance): The Learning Challenge (2017); Challenging Early Learning (2018); Encouraging Learning (2013); Challenging Learning (1st Ed., 2010; 2nd Ed., 2016).

Progress

Helping parents, boards members, and local organisations understand some of the best ways to support your students’ learning.

Researchers used to think that intelligence and ability were mostly determined by genetics and that experiences and environment led to only moderate adjustments. They thought this was particularly true for students with special needs. A breakthrough in the 1980s showed IQ scores rising across whole populations which could only be explained by improvements in circumstance (particularly health, living conditions and quality of education).

Though it is still true that some students are further behind than others, it is now clear that every single student can make excellent progress from where they are starting. Indeed, it is this belief that is at the heart of holding high expectations for all students.

Choose this topic if a) you would like to a) understand the best ways to amplify, draw attention and celebrate progress; b) address the principal reasons why progress for some students is disappointingly low (including demotivation, lack of persistence, and poor self-image); and c) build class and school systems for boosting progress, leading to improved achievement.

Books I’ve written that give further research & practical ideas (in order of relevance): Challenging Mindset (2018); TEACH Brilliantly (2024); Challenging Early Learning (2018); Challenging Learning (1st Ed., 2010; 2nd Ed., 2016).

Questioning

The number of questions asked by teachers on average is between 300-400 (Tienken et al, 2009) and 100-350 (Clinton & Dawson, 2018). Unfortunately, however, these questions are most commonly asked within the classic IRE pattern – Initiate-Respond-Evaluate. This approach tends to engage only one third of students (Cazden, 2001). Thankfully though, there are small tweaks that can be made to significantly outcomes – but they take practice and patience. Consideration should also be given to whether ‘cold calling’ helps, how to use pace and wait times to improve participation, how to build up and respond to students’ questions, and ways to widen participation so that it’s not just the usual suspects who respond. Advice, supported by evidence, about all of this can be woven into professional learning sessions.

Choose this topic if  a) you would like to a) understand the best ways to amplify, draw attention and celebrate progress; b) address the principal reasons why progress for some students is disappointingly low (including demotivation, lack of persistence, and poor self-image); and c) build class and school systems for boosting progress, leading to improved achievement.

Books I’ve written that give further research & practical ideas (in order of relevance): Challenging Mindset (2018); TEACH Brilliantly (2024); Challenging Early Learning (2018); Challenging Learning (1st Ed., 2010; 2nd Ed., 2016).

Thinking Skills

All students can be taught to be better thinkers. ‘Better’ in terms of being more effective, ethical, social, creative and judicious. By improving their thinking, students become more active inquirers, more open-minded and balanced, reflective and principled.

Of the strategies that I have expertise in, I would recommend selecting from these options: Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS); de Bono’s Lateral Thinking techniques; Thinking Through series from Newcastle University; Philosophy for Children; and of course, the Learning Pit. Between them, these approaches to thinking help students learn from mistakes, value discovery and design, engage in playful exploration, and develop critical, creative, caring and collaborative skills.

Choose this topic if you wish to a) learn practical, analytical tools that teach students how to think more critically; b) build a set of lateral thinking strategies that will boost the creativity of all students; and c) identify how best to help students socially construct understanding.

Books I’ve written that give further research & practical ideas (in order of relevance): The Learning Challenge (2017); Challenging Early Learning (2018); Encouraging Learning (2013); Challenging Learning (1st Ed., 2010; 2nd Ed., 2016).

Videos and Webinars

Making good use of asynchronous and online media to engage abest or new staff

Videos:  There are now the cornerstone of what James offers. Sometimes used as a surrogate for “live” events, but primarily used as a supplement, videos recorded specifically for your team can help to prepare for PD events; revisit key ideas; and/or induct new staff. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! They are enormously successful and popular.

Webinar:  Similiar to the videos; webinars can replace in-person events (and often do) but can also add extra dimensions by offering Q&A before or a few weeks after a PD events. Furthermore, they enable absent staff (e.g those on maternity leave) to connect with and keep abreast of improvements in your school’s approch to teaching, leading and learning.

Engaging Your Community

Helping parents, boards members, and local organisations understand some of the best ways to support your students’ learning.

Parents’ presentations: James has made more 300+ presentations to parents around the world. The most popular topics include. How to encourage your children to step out of their comfort zone more willingly; the do’s and dont’s of helping children with homework; why some types of praise can make your children less determined rather than more; and the magic of figuring it out.

Shared visioning: Helping your whole team (and invited community members) to identify the priorities, values and preferred outcomes for your students.

Keynotes

James is a highly sought-after keynote speaker, providing the perfect start (or end) to national and international conferences. Min. 45 mins; Max. 90 mins

All staff:  James designs keynotes that challenge and encourage all leaders, teachers, support staff, administrators and board members.

All phases:  a distinct aspect of James’s work is his ability to connect with staff in all phrases, pre-K to 12: preschool, primary, middle, high and college/gymnasium.

Invite your networks:  James encourages you to invite your neighbours so that he can share his expertise with as many people as possible (and you can share your costs!)

All Staff Workshops, Seminars & Institutes

James will keep your team engaged, inspired and motivated by blending clarity of ideas, opportunities for reflections and interactions, and lots of practical strategies that can be applied right away.

All staff, all phases: James designs professional learning for everyone connected with student learning. So, whether your colleagues work with the youngest or oldest students (pre-K to 12), or their role is to teach, lead, support or guide then they will find James’s sessions relevant and engaging.

Flexible timing: PL events can run for anything between 1-6 hours. A before- or after-school event is typically 90mins; a half day tends to be 2.5 – 3 hours plus a break; and a full day is 5 hours plus breaks and lunch. Anything is possible though – including multi-day institutes, residentials and study tours.

Additional services: as well as the event itself, every booking includes: a presentation designed to match your context (no formulaic packages here!); a preview video to give your team a chance to think about the main ideas before the event begins; some pre-reading recommendations; a PDF copy of all the slides created by James; and a code to access all the Learning Pit graphics for free.

All Staff Workshops, Seminars & Institutes

James will keep your team engaged, inspired and motivated by blending clarity of ideas, opportunities for reflections and interactions, and lots of practical strategies that can be applied right away.

All staff, all phases: James designs professional learning for everyone connected with student learning. So, whether your colleagues work with the youngest or oldest students (pre-K to 12), or their role is to teach, lead, support or guide then they will find James’s sessions relevant and engaging.

Flexible timing: PL events can run for anything between 1-6 hours. A before- or after-school event is typically 90mins; a half day tends to be 2.5 hours plus a break; and a full day is 5.5 hours plus breaks and lunch. Anything is possible though – including multi-day institutes, residentials and study tours.

Additional services: as well as the event itself, every booking includes: a presentation designed to match your context (no formulaic packages here!); a preview video to give your team a chance to think about the main ideas before the event begins; some pre-reading recommendations; a PDF copy of all the slides created by James; and a code to access all the Learning Pit graphics for free.

Longer-term support

Whereas keynotes and PL events inspire, longer-term support goes many steps further. James guides, demonstrates and ensures that progress is made towards your shared vision. Some of the most popular features include:

Evidence collection & analysis: James brings a fresh pair of eyes to your context. He observes learning and listens to students (he does not judge teachers!) He then offers recommendations based on what he knows to be possible from his wide-ranging international experiences. This gives you a great starting point for your next steps towards excellence.

Student and staff voice: James builds trust quickly. He uses this to encourage staff, students, parents, and other members of the community to share honest insights into their experiences. These conversations are audio-recorded and anonymised transcripts shared with leaders to give a rare insight into the possibilities for growth.

Staff coaching and guidance: James coaches, co-plans and co-teaches, runs demonstration lessons, meets with leadership teams to plan and problem-solve, and runs parent presentations to help them understand how best to support their children’s learning.

Costs: you decide the budget and James will design options based on these parameters.

Demonstration Lessons

James is one of the few consultants who will always walk the talk. Give him any class, any age and he will demonstrate some of his recommended strategies working with your students.

Any class, any age: James has run demonstration lessons with 3-year-olds, teenagers in alternative provision settings because of repeated offences, EAL classes, state, private, and free schools (K-12) and everything in between. The key is, he wants to show your team how the strategies he recommends work with your students.

Preview, demonstrate, review: the ideal format a preview with observing staff (10-15 mins), a demonstration lesson (20-70 mins), and then time to review and answer questions (the review can be after school if that’s easier). All of these activities may be recorded for internal use afterwards if you wish.

Flow of the day: although there are many options, a typical day would flow as follows: 1) 20mins meeting with leaders; 2) demo cycle one – 10 mins preview, 50-60 mins demo, 15 mins review (total 75-85mins); 3) demo cycle two (75-85mins); 4) demo cycle three (75-85mins); 5) whole staff meeting after school (60-90mins).

Demonstration Lessons

James is one of the few consultants who will always walk the talk. Give him any class, any age and he will demonstrate some of his recommended strategies working with your students.

Any class, any age: James has run demonstration lessons with 3-year-olds, teenagers in alternative provision settings because of repeated offences, EAL classes, state, private, and free schools (K-12) and everything in between. The key is, he wants to show your team how the strategies he recommends work with your students.

Preview, demonstrate, review: the ideal format a preview with observing staff (10-15 mins), a demonstration lesson (20-70 mins), and then time to review and answer questions (the review can be after school if that’s easier). All of these activities may be recorded for internal use afterwards if you wish.

Flow of the day: although there are many options, a typical day would flow as follows: 1) 20mins meeting with leaders; 2) demo cycle one – 10 mins preview, 50-60 mins demo, 15 mins review (total 75-85mins); 3) demo cycle two (75-85mins); 4) demo cycle three (75-85mins); 5) whole staff meeting after school (60-90mins).

Online Professional Learning

The most flexible, cost-effective (and carbon friendly) approach to professional learning. Engage your team in the highest quality PL wherever they are in the world – at work, at home, or even on a beach.

Interactive and engaging: James has learnt a lot in the 250+ webinars he has led since March 2020. These experiences, together with his imagination, professionalism and flair have made his online delivery second only to his in-person keynotes.

Press record: you are welcome to record any webinar that James runs on your behalf. The recordings can be used by absent and new staff, as well as for revisiting by your PLCs.

From classic to blended: James can engage with individuals using their own devices. Or staff could gather into teams sharing devices or watching a single projection, thus encouraging turn & talk and free-flowing co-planning. Or invite James to present from a professional stage to an online audience. Every approach has its benefits.

Costs: online PL presentations range from pro bono for the lowest GDP countries to 40-60% of in-person costs for others.

Commissioned videos

The demand for videos is such that we have now created our own film studio at Learning Pit HQ. So, tell us what you want, and we’ll send you a high-quality video to support your team’s on-going professional learning.

Purpose: There are many reasons why our videos are commissioned, including: as a summary of the key points from the PL we have led for your team; creating a video library for you to use with new staff; boosting your PLC resources so that staff can access learning whenever and wherever they like.

Language and subtitles: we have produced videos with subtitles (in English or any other language of your choosing if you provide the translations). We can also adjust any on-screen graphics and text to suit your context (as you can see from the image shown).

Video Length: the length of each video is also flexible. For example, in 2022, we were commissioned to create 12 x 5mins videos for New York City DoE whereas a network of schools in WA, Australia wanted a series of 20-mins videos to support their micro-credentials; and all our Japanese videos are just 2-3mins long. You choose, we record.

Commissioned videos

The demand for videos is such that we have now created our own film studio at Learning Pit HQ. So, tell us what you want, and we’ll send you a high-quality video to support your team’s on-going professional learning.

Purpose: There are many reasons why our videos are commissioned, including: as a summary of the key points from the PL we have led for your team; creating a video library for you to use with new staff; boosting your PLC resources so that staff can access learning whenever and wherever they like.

Language and subtitles: we have produced videos with subtitles (in English or any other language of your choosing if you provide the translations). We can also adjust any on-screen graphics and text to suit your context (as you can see from the image shown).

Video Length: the length of each video is also flexible. For example, in 2022, we were commissioned to create 12 x 5mins videos for New York City DoE whereas a network of schools in WA, Australia wanted a series of 20-mins videos to support their micro-credentials; and all our Japanese videos are just 2-3mins long. You choose, we record.

Coaching for teams & individuals

James has some capacity for coaching beyond the support he offers as part of the longer-term projects he engages in (see above). So, if you are ready but your organisation isn’t yet, then this could be the perfect approach for you.

Establish and work towards your goals: Clarify your why, what, how and when. Talk through your next steps and your priorities. Keep an eye on your progress.

Increase engagement: think through strategies for engaging your team and colleagues more effectively. Be supported with preparing presentations, documents and clarity of message.

Safe space to gain perspective: talk through issues, some of which might be sensitive, free from judgement or persuasion.

Deeper level of learning: understand the contradictions, nuances and exceptions you are likely to encounter when seeking to implement improvement plans.

A series of meetings: we recommend starting with a series of six 50–60-minute online meetings with James.

 

Focus: James has wide experience as a teacher and leader in schools, as well as the founding director of private companies in seven countries. He can help you think through most leadership topics and almost every aspect of pedagogy. He coaches individuals, middle and senior leadership teams, and increasingly, parent and community groups.

Pricing

Our pricing is responsive to location and type of service, so please contact us for an accurate quote. The following factors contribute to cost-effectiveness:

Location: James generally makes 2-3 trips per year to Australia (normally Jan/Feb, May, and July); and regular visits to the USA, Canada & Japan. When at home, his closest airport is Edinburgh, Scotland. If you therefore book him when he is already in your region then his professional fees will be reduced by 10-25%.

Second and subsequent days (normally as part of longer-term projects or for demonstration lessons): professional fees will be reduced by 15-35%.

Commissioned videos: pricing entirely depends on recording length and whether subtitles and translations are required. Many videos are provided free of charge as part of other PL services we are providing.

Online professional learning: professional fees are reduced by 60%. There is also no charge for expenses such as travel or accommodation.

Commissioned videos

Our pricing is responsive to location and type of service, so please contact us for an accurate quote. The following factors contribute to cost-effectiveness:

Location: James generally makes 2-3 trips per year to Australia (link to page 5c) (normally Jan/Feb, May, and July); and regular visits to the USA, Canada (link to page 5d) & Japan. (link to page 5c)  When at home, his closest airport is Edinburgh, Scotland. If you therefore book him when he is already in your region then his professional fees will be reduced by 10-25%.

Second and subsequent days (normally as part of longer-term projects or for demonstration lessons): professional fees will be reduced by 15-35%.

Commissioned videos: pricing entirely depends on recording length and whether subtitles and translations are required. Many videos are provided free of charge as part of other PL services we are providing.

Online professional learning: professional fees are reduced by 60%. There is also no charge for expenses such as travel or accommodation.

Who ya gonna call?

Schmuck Busters!

James Nottingham at Secondhand Schmucks, 2021

My Commitment To You

From the day I began full time consultancy in 1999, I have committed to the following principles:
  • I will give you our very best blend of research analysis, high expectations, good humour, and practical advice – all tailor-made for your context.
  • I will be clear about what works best. Rather than flipping from one buzz word to another, I will stay true to the vision, values and strategies that enable ALL students (& staff) to thrive.
  • I will walk the talk – give me any class of students, any age and I will run demonstration lessons for you to observe & review.

Benefits You Can Expect

When he knows your starting point and desired outcomes, James can give you a precise idea of expected gains together with an associated timeline. For now, here are examples of outcomes achieved by others he’s worked with.
  • Students become more willing to take intellectual risks, ask thoughtful questions, and engage in challenging tasks with a sense of efficacy & resilience.
  • Staff and students are more likely to welcome feedback and use if more effectively to deepen their learning.
  • Improved questioning strategies lead students from surface knowledge to deep learning more effectively.

Common Questions & Answers

Why should I choose to work with James Nottingham?

James has been consulting with schools around the world for more than 20 years.  He knows and understands the various contexts and is committed to providing support that is aligned to your specific needs and structures.  James stays current with educational research and is able to consistently make connections between the strategies he suggests and the research to support them.  Throughout his 20+ years in consultancy, he has developed his message to fit the current times, but has stayed true to his core foundations, including the Learning Pit as a framework for learning, encouraging challenge, and focussing learning and the learner.

What sort of consultancy does James provide?

James offers keynotes for conferences and seminars.  He also does a lot of in-school consultancy; puts on conferences and institutes; and creates customised videos and webinars .

His main themes are learning, mastery, and engagement. He works with all staff connected to the education of students aged 3-19, including teachers, leaders, support staff, coaches, consultants, directors and superintendents.

In addition to his consultancy services, he also has a range of books, lesson resources, videos, and Learning Pit downloads.

What is the focus of the James's consultancy?

James wants to help make learning more challenging; and he wants educators to think about how to build a culture where all learners are supported.

He knows that more learning happens when people step outside their comfort zone; that more reflection and strategy comes from mistakes than from easy success.

And yet, all too often educators try to make things easier for their students; partly because they don’t want lessons to descend into chaos when everyone is confused, but mainly because there simply isn’t time for confusion – there’s too much information to get through and the exams are just around the corner! Parents are also susceptible: witness the increasing number of terms used to describe those who would design struggle out of their children’s lives: ‘helicopter parents’; ‘curling parents’; ‘snowplough parents’; ‘bonsai parents’ and so on.

James’s proposition is to go contrary to these latest trends by introducing more challenge, not less. Encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone; to investigate; to seek alternatives; to reject easy answers; to engage in more thoughtful questioning; to seek reasons and counter-arguments. In other words: to seek out challenge rather than to avoid it; to go into the Learning Pit rather than play it safe and stick to what you know.

He shows educators how this can be done, even with a crowded curriculum, hesitant students and helicopter parents. He shares research that confirms people have to struggle if they are to remember lessons long into the future; that more learning comes from examining mistakes than from verifying answers.

He makes learning more challenging because the evidence is clear: we all grow when we step out of our comfort zone. And he challenges the way learning takes place because there’s always a better way – be it more effective, more efficient, more ethical or more collaborative.

Does James offer anything for parents?

Most of James’s work is with teachers, leaders and support staff working with 3-19-year-olds. However, when he does long-term work with schools, pre-schools or colleges, he often runs parent workshops in which he shares the latest research and best ideas for supporting children’s learning. This includes how (and how not) to praise; how to help children get into a growth mindset, develop self-esteem and build self-efficacy; giving advice about grading and labelling; looking at the best ways to approach mistakes and failure; practising questioning that engages curiosity and conversation; and developing a range of strategies for reasoning and reasonable behaviour.

As well as these workshops, he recommends his book  Encouraging Learning (2013). This inspiring, humorous, and practical book will show you what to do to help children of all ages develop into confident, thoughtful and independent learners.

Does James offer anything for individual teachers as well as teams?

He hosts conferences, workshops and roadshows – all of which are available to individuals as well as groups and teams. There are also all nine of his books, plus the lesson ideas, downloadable resources and videos available on this site.

What’s the best type of professional development for my team?

Get in touch and James can help you decide! He will ask about your context and your aims, then offer some suggestions for your next steps. He won’t push and He won’t offer you a pre-formulated package. Instead, he will listen carefully to your thoughts and then help you design the best blend of resources, support and consultancy that builds capacity and leads to significant and sustainable improvements in teaching, learning and leadership.

TALK WITH US ...

We’ll connect with you via phone or video call to answer your questions

TALK WITH OTHERS ...

We’ll put you in touch with people already working with Challenging Learning to give you an insider’s view of our services

REQUEST A PROPOSAL ...

We’ll send you a detailed draft proposal, showing the extent of our support and the costs involved

TALK FACE-TO-FACE ...

We’ll arrange to meet your key decision-makers face-to-face

GO ON A STUDY TOUR ...

We’ll organise a study tour for you and your colleagues to visit some of the schools and districts making gains with the support of Challenging Learning

Common Questions & Answers

Why should I choose to work with James Nottingham?

James has been consulting with schools around the world for more than 20 years.  He knows and understands the various contexts and is committed to providing support that is aligned to your specific needs and structures.  James stays current with educational research and is able to consistently make connections between the strategies he suggests and the research to support it.  Throughout his 20+ years in consultancy, he has developed his message to fit the current times, but has stayed true to his foundations, including the Learning Pit and a focus on the learning environment.

What sort of consultancy does James provide?

James offers keynotes for conferences and seminars.  He also does a lot of in-school consultancy; puts on conferences and institutes; and creates customised videos and webinars .

His main themes are learning, mastery, and engagement. He works with all staff connected to the education of students aged 3-19, including teachers, leaders, support staff, coaches, consultants, directors and superintendents.

In addition to his consultancy services, he also has a range of books, lesson resources, videos, and Learning Pit downloads.

What is the focus of James's consultancy?

James wants to help make learning more challenging; and he wants educators to think about how to build a culture where all learners are supported.

He knows that more learning happens when people step outside their comfort zone; that more reflection and strategy comes from mistakes than from easy success.

And yet, all too often educators try to make things easier for their students; partly because they don’t want lessons to descend into chaos when everyone is confused, but mainly because there simply isn’t time for confusion – there’s too much information to get through and the exams are just around the corner! Parents are also susceptible: witness the increasing number of terms used to describe those who would design struggle out of their children’s lives: ‘helicopter parents’; ‘curling parents’; ‘snowplough parents’; ‘bonsai parents’ and so on.

James’s proposition is to go contrary to these latest trends by introducing more challenge, not less. Encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone; to investigate; to seek alternatives; to reject easy answers; to engage in more thoughtful questioning; to seek reasons and counter-arguments. In other words: to seek out challenge rather than to avoid it; to go into the Learning Pit rather than play it safe and stick to what you know.

He shows educators how this can be done, even with a crowded curriculum, hesitant students and helicopter parents. He shares research that confirms people have to struggle if they are to remember lessons long into the future; that more learning comes from examining mistakes than from verifying answers.

He makes learning more challenging because the evidence is clear: we all grow when we step out of our comfort zone. And he challenges the way learning takes place because there’s always a better way – be it more effective, more efficient, more ethical or more collaborative.

Does James offer anything for parents?

Most of James’s work is with teachers, leaders and support staff working with 3-19-year-olds. However, when he does long-term work with schools, pre-schools or colleges, he often runs parent workshops in which he shares the latest research and best ideas for supporting children’s learning. This includes how (and how not) to praise; how to help children get into a growth mindset, develop self-esteem and build self-efficacy; giving advice about grading and labelling; looking at the best ways to approach mistakes and failure; practising questioning that engages curiosity and conversation; and developing a range of strategies for reasoning and reasonable behaviour.

As well as these workshops, he recommends his book  Encouraging Learning (2013). This inspiring, humorous, and practical book will show you what to do to help children of all ages develop into confident, thoughtful and independent learners.

Does James offer anything for individual teachers as well as teams?

He hosts conferences, workshops and roadshows – all of which are available to individuals as well as groups and teams. There are also all nine of his books, plus the lesson ideas, downloadable resources and videos available on this site.

What’s the best type of professional development for my team?

Get in touch and James can help you decide! He will ask about your context and your aims, then offer some suggestions for your next steps. He won’t push and He won’t offer you a pre-formulated package. Instead, he will listen carefully to your thoughts and then help you design the best blend of resources, support and consultancy that builds capacity and leads to significant and sustainable improvements in teaching, learning and leadership.

TALK WITH US ...

We’ll connect with you via phone or video call to answer your questions

TALK WITH OTHERS ...

We’ll put you in touch with people already working with Challenging Learning to give you an insider’s view of our services

SEND A PROPOSAL ...

We’ll send you a detailed draft proposal, showing the extent of our support and the costs involved

TALK FACE-TO-FACE ...

We’ll arrange to meet your key decision-makers face-to-face

STUDY TOUR ...

We’ll organise a study tour for you and your colleagues to visit some of the schools and districts making gains with the support of Challenging Learning

JAMES NOTTINGHAM

Consultant, Author, Keynote Speaker

This site represents two tradenames:

THE LEARNING PIT®

This trademark is held by James Nottingham (reg. No. 6.381.157) Uses of the Learning Pit for educational and not-for-profit purposes are usually permitted when seeking permission via this site.

CHALLENGING LEARNING

This is the name of the group of companies founded by James Nottingham (full details shown on the Contact Us page). It is also the name of his first book.

Get in touch