#186 Tools and Tips for Teachers: Episode 10 (with Ollie Lovell)

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Episode sponsors

This episode of the Mr Barton Maths podcast is proudly supported by AQA. Head over to aqa.org.uk/discovermaths to book a call with one of our team of experts, and find out why you should consider switching to AQA for GCSE Maths.

Episode details

Ollie Lovell is a maths and science teacher from Australia, an author, and my longtime, bitter podcasting rival. We have decided to get together once a month to share three things we have each learned and get the other’s take on it.


  1. Consider failures first as system failures (09:15)
  2. My latest lesson observation and coaching template (16:43)
  3. Representation, Decomposition, Approximation (32:16)
  4. Two different Starts to Finish so pairs don’t copy? (42:20)
  5. Tighten feedback cycles (52:57)
  6. Are Exit Tickets a waste of time? (1:02:03)

Episode summary

In this conversation, Craig and Ollie discuss various topics including Brian Johnson’s quest to beat the aging process, fitness goals, teaching reading using Monster Phonics, treating failures as system failures, effective teacher professional development, and the use of silent teacher and checking for listening in the classroom. In this part of the conversation, Craig Barton and Ollie Lovell discuss various teaching strategies and methods. They explore the use of worked examples and the importance of checking for understanding. They also discuss the idea of tightening feedback cycles and the benefits of more frequent assessments. Finally, they delve into the controversy surrounding exit tickets and their effectiveness as a teaching tool.


  • Treating failures as system failures allows organizations to take ownership and engineer sustainable solutions.
  • Effective teacher professional development should include representation, decomposition, and approximation.
  • The use of silent teacher and checking for listening can be effective strategies in the classroom. Using worked examples and checking for understanding are effective teaching strategies.
  • Tightening feedback cycles by increasing the frequency of assessments can help catch gaps in learning.
  • Exit tickets can be a useful tool for consolidation, metacognition, and resource creation, especially for early career teachers. Having a strategy and a unique angle can give you an advantage in competitive situations.

Ollie’s stuff

  • Sign up for Ollie’s newsletter here: edthreads.ollielovell.com
  • On Twitter, Ollie is @ollie_lovell
  • Ollie’s website is ollielovell.com 
  • You can check out Ollie’s podcast, The Education Research Reading Room here
  • Ollie’s first book, Cognitive Load Theory in Action, is available from Amazon
  • Ollie’s second book, Tools for Teachers, is available from Amazon

My usual plugs

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