Maximising opportunity to learn

Part of the Great Teaching Toolkit






This course provides an evidence-based overview of why and how maximising the opportunity to learn helps both teachers and students, and what great teachers do in pursuit of it. You will explore how these principles can be applied in the classroom, before practising selecting and adapting individual teaching strategies for different contexts to prepare for the next steps of your personalised professional development.

What will you learn?

Great teachers plan activities and resources so that everything works smoothly, including by using (and explicitly teaching) routines. They ensure consistent and fair application of rules, and they’re aware of what is happening in the classroom, even when their attention appears to be elsewhere. Great teachers do not actually have eyes in the back of their head, but their students may think they do.

Managing lessons so that time is used productively is a core teaching skill. Great teachers maximise the opportunity to learn by ensuring that students get started on meaningful work straight away and work right up to the end of the lesson. They prevent, anticipate and respond to potentially disruptive incidents, drawing on targeted approaches tailored to the individual needs of the students they teach.

In this course, you’ll learn about maximising opportunity to learn to achieve four classroom goals:

  1. to maximise productivity, and minimise wasted time;
  2. to apply rules, expectations and consequences for behaviour clearly, explicitly and consistently;
  3. to prevent, anticipate and respond to potentially disruptive incidents; and
  4. to reinforce positive student behaviours.

You’ll learn how managing the behaviour and activities of a class of students is at the heart of what great teachers do.

Curriculum outline

Over the first six weeks of this course, you’ll explore the evidence on maximising the opportunity to learn. You’ll learn about ways to minimise wasted time in the classroom by using (and teaching) routines to make transitions smooth. You’ll also learn about how to create and maintain clear rules and expectations, so that these are understood and accepted by all students. You’ll explore how teachers can use scripts to plan and deliver effective responses to disruption, how to signal your awareness of potential misbehaviour. You’ll also learn how to reinforce positive student behaviour through the effective use of praise.

In the final two weeks, once you have thought hard about the theories and principles behind maximising opportunity to learn, you’ll move on to practise the act of selecting and adapting strategies for use in the classroom, based on your growing knowledge.

What else is included in the Toolkit?

Maximising opportunity to learn

Assessment Lead Programme

Maximising opportunity to learn

Science of Learning Programme

Maximising opportunity to learn

Toolkit Instruments

Maximising opportunity to learn

Creating a supportive environment

Maximising opportunity to learn

Behaviour and Culture Programme

Maximising opportunity to learn


Maximising opportunity to learn


Maximising opportunity to learn


Maximising opportunity to learn


Maximising opportunity to learn


Maximising opportunity to learn

An evidence-based approach to Great Teaching