Sharing joy and knowledge from an ordinary life

The TEEP Learning Cycle (Post 3 of 3)

This is the last in my series of TEEP posts (You can read post 1- ‘What is TEEP?‘ and post 2- ‘The 5 Underpinning Principles‘ here). It has been great for me to write them a few years after completing the initial training. I have had time to put a lot of things into action and there has been time to have forgotten a substantial number of things that it’s been really useful to revisit from this new perspective.


This final post will take you through the nuts and bolts of a TEEP lesson structure. Although I have given lots of detail about TEEP for you across the three posts, they certainly don’t replace doing the training at all. I couldn’t recommend doing the training highly enough. It’s the best CPD I’ve ever done in terms of the level of impact it’s had on my practice. It’s also an incredibly enjoyable learning experience, as the way you’re trained is in the style of TEEP. So expect lots of creative activities, collaborative working and a tired brain after being worked hard by your teacher!

Kolb’s experiential learning cycle
Although TEEP has developed it’s own ‘thing’, much of the cycle links closely to Kolb’s experiential learning cycle in that it wraps around a lot of what’s going on in the classroom. Apparently. These days, it’s a case of taking most research into learning with a large pinch of salt- apparently. You can read more about Kolb here.

1. Prepare for Learning

Students need to be prepared to learn, unfortunately, they don’t just walk through the door ready to learn. Ultimately, we’re training the learners to arrive equipped with the tools for learning and possessing a motivation and readiness for learning.

Professional Standards and Routine
Much of TEEP and indeed, effective teaching, relies upon establishing a routine. For me, this links closely with our College’s professional standards for learners. Translating them to the start of a lesson:

  • They must be wearing their lanyards.
  • They must not have any food or drink out (bar a bottle of water).
  • They must have signed in on the register.
  • They must have their equipment out of their bags.
  • They must have out their coat on the back of the chair and their bag under the table.

Readiness for learning
Once all the elements are done then students should be presented with an immediate task.

TEEP referred to this as ‘bell work’- a task that you place on the tables or on the board for learners to complete at the very start of the lesson. It gets their brains warmed up and there’s an expectation that learning begins as soon as they enter the classroom. The content of this task should either review the previous lesson’s learning or introduce the new topic. It should be engaging and should stimulate thought about the lesson ahead.

  • Drag and drop
  • True or false
  • Odd one out
  • Video clip plus accompanying questions
  • Key word card sort
  • Key words and definitions
  • Anagram keywords
  • Work out the metaphor
  • Mystery silhouette

Thunks work particularly well at this point of the lesson:
How is the Angel of the North similar to lesson planning?
How is a lemon similar to World War One?

When I first did TEEP, I was teaching a number of hours back to back all around the College and lots of different subjects. One day of the week, I had a straight 10 hours! Sometimes the food and drink rule was removed from the ground rules list so I could have something to eat!

What it did mean was that I invariably had students waiting outside a room when I arrived and, more often than not, there was a class still in the room who we were waiting for. The luxury of a base room was unknown to me. This made it difficult for bell work to happen. I began putting a task on the door as we waited for the class inside. They would have to discuss this in small groups and then when the class did come out, I could dash in and prepare the room whilst they completed their warm-up task outside the room. It worked wonders. As soon as they came into the room, they were ready to learn. In classes where I didn’t use this bell work, the difference was particularly noticeable, especially if the students had been waiting outside the room as it took far longer to get into the learning as they were so restless and in chill-out mode!

When I could get in the room, I was able to put up welcome slides with pictures from the previous lesson’s learning, or conduct some of the elements which affect the emotional climate of the classroom.

Emotional Climate (also in post 1- ‘What is TEEP?’)

Circle Time
At the start of a lesson, students should be gathered in a circle. They each share how they’re feeling. This encourages students to talk about feelings, acknowledge that their performance in the lesson may be affected but that they make some kind of commitment to trying their best regardless. Therefore, during this time, asking students to share a fist/five rating of how they’re feeling and one thing they intend to do during the lesson to improve their mood can be useful. From September, I plan to pass round this image and students will say which lego person they feel like and why! Thanks to @ICTEvangelist for sharing this one!


Park It
If you do teach a group who struggle with a lot of personal issues outside of class (and which of us don’t?), have a parking space pinned on the wall. They could write something that’s bothering them on a sticky note and add it to the car park. Alternatively, to keep it private, they could write it on a note and stick it in a jar. This way, the students’ issues have been acknowledged but they’re put to one side so that the learning can continue.

Each of these small additions to the lesson, can promote students’ emotional well-being and ultimately, they help to demonstrate that you care about more of them than just their learning, homework completion and grades.

Respectful environment
Having learners respect one another and you is probably on everyone’s classroom ground rules. Having a routine for when learners are talking or presenting their ideas is an important part of getting them trained.

Quality Audience
What does a quality audience of student look like? Sound like? Tell learners explicitly what you expect of them when they’re an audience for their peers.

When calling for a quality audience:

  • Think about your position in the room
  • Pre-signal with something such as a 5-4-3-2-1
  • Then ensure you have some kind of physical signal for the learners such as a hand up in the air that they reflect back to you so you know who’s on board.

You can read a great post about classroom rituals here.

All of these class rituals together are crucial as they provide enough comfort and recognition for students. While all the other elements of the lesson may look very different week to week, these elements will remain the same.

2. Agree the learning outcomes

Any learning outcomes should connect, as much to skills, thinking and dispositions as they do to content. It makes a great deal of sense that we’re wanting young people (or old ones for those in FE!) to leave our classroom having learnt far more than just the content on the syllabus.

Use of Bloom’s Taxonomy ensures that learners are able to access the lesson at different levels of thinking- not necessarily based on ability but on their level of thinking with this particular content and topic.

I think that using MUST, SHOULD, COULD or ALL, MOST, SOME is the most damaging thing to learners’ progress and motivation that a teacher can use so I won’t be giving that ‘technique’ any more of my time.

I personally have an issue with learning outcomes; I’m told all the time that learners need to know them for their learning to be effective. I’m not entirely sure where this assertion has come from and I’m not entirely sure I agree. I know I need to know where the learning is going but do they?

The most useful way I use learning outcomes and, from September, the only way, will be as questions that the students need to be able to answer by the end of the lesson. Unless of course, it’s a lesson in which I want the students to direct their learning, in which case, we’ll most certainly be using my trusty ‘wish wall.’

3. Present New Information
This is the real ‘hook’ for the session. It’s your opportunity to engage the learner, to stimulate curiosity and to reach them emotionally: so that they care about what comes next.

The present part of the lesson is one of the best places to ensure the learning is multi-sensory.

Some of my favourite tools are videos:

  • PowToon
  • VideoScribe
  • Screencasts
  • Explain Everything
  • Tellagami
  • Go Animate

This is because the students tend to listen to them more than they would me and I can ensure I have the questions prepared to summarise what they learnt.

I’m planning to experiment with podcasting tools such as audioboo from September too, thanks to Mark Anderson’s (@ICTEvangelist) book.

Guest speakers
These are all the more possible with things like Skype Classroom and Connected Classrooms with Google Hangout.

The internet can connect you to people you never thought it would be possible to write to or speak to, let alone meet!

Obviously, you could also use a good old fashioned local contact and a letter!

Learning mats
You can read about learning mats in my post here.

Opportunities for making the most of an activity and furthering the learning should be grabbed wherever possible. If you are delivering video, audio or text content then analyse it, consider how it was made and why, as well as what it had to say.

4. Construct- the search for meaning
Variety is important to TEEP and this is perhaps the place in your lesson where the biggest variety can be achieved. The ‘search for meaning’ should, without a doubt, encourage learners to think at increasingly high levels, work collaboratively, independently at times and to achieve the learning outcomes (if we’re still caring about those!)

This part of the lesson should be both real and relevant wherever possible.

Possible activities include:

  • Jigsaw
  • Carousel
  • Modelling
  • Making
  • Graphic organisers
  • Foldables
  • Presentation
  • Storyboard
  • Card sorts
  • Reconstructions
  • Role play
  • Problem solving
  • Continuum line
  • Skeletal mind map
  • Ranking exercise
  • Matching exercise

5. Apply- to demonstrate new understanding
This part of the lesson is designed to give the students the opportunity to show that they really do understand what they’ve been learning (they’re not just saying it!)

Take care to ensure that it’s an opportunity to apply what they’ve learnt, not just repeat it.

Possible activities:

  • Artist easel
  • Mind map
  • Student presentation, video or podcast
  • Dominoes
  • Hot potatoes
  • Quiz
  • Game
  • Assignments
  • Demonstration to the class
  • Display
  • Simulation
  • Sequencing
  • Washing line
  • De Bono’s Thinking Hats

6. Review- step back and reflect on your learning
This is an opportunity for learners to revisit what they’ve learnt and how.

It should be as much a verbal process as a written one.

Reflection on the learning outcomes should occur to form the connections between all parts of learning.

Metacognition at this stage is crucial- think about the how things were learnt as much, if not more, than the what was learned.

Learning journals are my favourite thing to do at this part of the lesson and they have formed part of my C6 rituals now.

Other possible activities:

  • Reflect back on learning outcomes
  • Post it notes- 3 things learnt today
  • Review with photos or video
  • Write a song
  • 3-2-1
  • Postcards
  • Taboo
  • Mnemonics
  • Speed dating
  • Traffic lights
  • Bingo with keywords

Learning without reviewing is like filling the bath without putting the plug in. This will have to be my mantra this year as remembering to give enough time to this part of the lesson is something I have consistently failed to do over the last 5 years.

Mini Reviews

Mini reviews should take place frequently throughout the lesson as they are an invaluable opportunity to gain feedback about students’ level of understanding and any misconceptions before it’s too late!

Physical environment
The physical environment is very important and underpins the TEEP cycle. Think about displays- they should be interactive, attractive, stimulating and relevant.

  • Consider different room layouts for different lessons/ different lesson parts.
  • Ensure that the room is tidy and all required resources are accessible and organised.
  • Think about temperature and light as well as whether it is comfortable.
  • Play music if appropriate.

I’m going to be returning to full-on TEEP this coming term with this learning plan and writing these posts has made me ridiculously excited about it!

My writing commitment: I’m learning to honour my thoughts. I’m learning that my words can be shared before I’ve connected all the dots or learned everything there is to know. My writing can be a snapshot of a single moment in continually-evolving time.

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In the second year of our Teaching & Learning conference, we managed to get things planned ahead of time- especially as I hadn’t decided I’d


What is TEEP? (Post 1)

I am officially ‘TEEP trained.’ That sounds more like a seedy confession than a declaration but it means that I have undertaken the first level