The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

John Dabell

John trained as a teacher 20 years ago, starting his career in London and then teaching in a range of schools in the Midlands.

In-between teaching jobs, he trained as an OfSTED inspector and worked as a national in-service provider, project manager, writer and editor.

He has written many educational books and children’s books.

Latest blog posts

John Dabell

How can governors help the wellbeing of school leaders?

John Dabell explores how support and challenge from governors can improve headteacher wellbeing and make the life of a leader easier. Headteachers and governors don’t have to get on like a house on fire, but it certainly helps if they have a professional and productive working relationship that is...
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John Dabell

How to protect NQT wellbeing

John Dabell explains how teacher retention can be improved by focusing on the wellbeing of new teachers to help them feel supported, valued and motivated to stay. Newly qualified teachers (NQTs) are the lifeblood of the system. They are vibrant, dynamic and a breath of fresh air to any school. But...
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John Dabell

Maverick teachers wanted

Teaching is made up of all types and that's a good thing. We need diversity and difference. But do we have enough adventurers and mavericks? Just what type of teacher are you? There are some teachers who do things differently and can be trusted to ruffle feathers. These teachers I like. The pupils...
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John Dabell

What's the point in breaktimes?

John Dabell looks at the emotional and physical benefits of breaktimes, and how teachers can supervise pupils without interfering. Most children look forward to playtime – they can’t wait to get outside for a break. It’s their time and they have a fair degree of ownership over it. It’s a part of...
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John Dabell

How to help children who say they are 'stuck'

Teachers are sometimes far too quick to respond to requests for help. How do children benefit from being 'stuck' and how can we encourage them to find a solution independently? When some children encounter a problem, difficulty, or challenge, they stop. Sometimes stopping and pausing for a moment...
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John Dabell

Why we need interprofessional collaboration

Schools could learn so much from external professionals if they collaborated more. John Dabell looks at values we can take from other professions, and why they should be implemented in education. It’s often said that teaching is the profession on which all other professions depend. Perhaps, but how...
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John Dabell

Why we shouldn’t ignore low-level disruptive behaviour

Behaviour management is a daily, hourly commitment. John Dabell explores how to promote positive behaviour and say goodbye to classroom disruption. Serious misbehaviour can unhinge the class, you and the school. But then so can low-level behaviour, especially when it is persistent. Ignore low-level...
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John Dabell

Have you poverty proofed your school?

Prosperity for all? Nowhere near. John Dabell looks at how poverty proofing can be achieved in the classroom. Britain has a deep social mobility problem and there are considerable inequalities in educational attainment which are linked to social disadvantage. The Institute for Fiscal Studies...
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John Dabell

Most able, most appropriate?

What's in a label? For John Dabell, much less than teachers might assume. He explains why it's time to focus on pupils' potential rather than on pigeonholes. We are pretty good at giving ourselves labels. Ask someone who they are, and they will label themselves a teacher, a father, perhaps a...
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John Dabell

Teachers can make their mark with written feedback

Effective feedback lies at the heart of the learning process. John Dabell explains why written feedback should be no exception. Marking has been demonised. It has been hijacked by the marking martyrs who rage against the machine. They hate marking and pour scorn on it at every available opportunity...
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John Dabell

Preparing for SATs: what works?

It's the time of year for preparing Year 6 pupils to be 'SATs-ready'. John Dabell offers suggestions for success. Every Year 6 teacher in England has the unenviable task of preparing pupils for the highlight of the year: the Key Stage 2 SATs! SATs preparation can be emotionally draining, and we don...
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John Dabell

Bringing video-based CPD into focus

Watching how we teach is a great way to revitalise lesson observation and feedback. John Dabell provides some advice for getting started. We have witnessed a significant shift in our perception of lesson observations; from something to be feared to an opportunity to engage in open and productive...
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John Dabell

5 education myths we need to dispel

Grand ideas can carry a lot of gravitas, but these five educational 'cure-alls' came without a pinch of salt. John Dabell explains why they were too good to be true. One of the most depressing things about attending CPD sessions is when the self-appointed gurus or odd-ball suppliers of Inset refer...
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John Dabell

10 resolutions for new teachers

Feeling frazzled after your first term? Begin afresh by resolving to improve your practice without taking on too much. With the first term under your belt, you are probably feeling pretty chuffed with yourself – and rightfully so. You earned your Christmas break and hopefully you’ve spent some...
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John Dabell

Teachers, here are your professional promises for the new year

A new term can mean a new you if you keep to these pledges for self-improvement throughout the year and beyond. That’s another term done and dusted and here we are in a new year already. Where does the time go and when is it half term? When you have been teaching for a few years, it’s easy to slip...
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John Dabell

How to recharge your teaching batteries

Summer is a welcome break for even the most resilient school leader. But when you get your life back, what do you do with it? Did the end of term leave you quanked, forswunk, and ramfeezled? Has your mojo run off and left your body to cope all by itself? Fear not, the summer holidays are here and...
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John Dabell

Why lazy teachers are the best

Working hard or hardly working? John Dabell explains why putting the power in pupils' hands is the best way for teachers to look after their own wellbeing. I'm a lazy teacher – a really lazy teacher. Many of my colleagues are too. We don’t mind admitting it either. In fact, we’re very proud. You...
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