Big Day Out Newcastle #BDONE Part 3

Nick Owen – 10 Strategies of Highly Effective Teachers 

In the second masterclass Nick Owen shared ten strategies of highly effective teachers; he did state there were many more but these are ten of his favourites.

Nick started by sharing his philosophy for education, it’s all about enthusing the child to love knowledge and love learning. The Latin origin of the word meaning “filled with the spirit of God.” Once he had reinforced the fact that education should be something special he drew us all in with a mystery, challenging us to figure it out only using closed, yes/no response questions. Once we had figured out the challenge he talked us through the details with cryptic clues, grandeur, anecdotes and leaving gaps for us to fill in. All this was to suit his purpose, to force us to think hard to recall as many of the details as possible. 

The entire process was a demonstration of the ten strategies which Nick then shared.

Context – Details are more memorable when they are put in context, facts floating around by themselves in the ether. Most people prefer the big picture as having an overview makes things more relevant.


Magic Number 7 – Add or minus 2; chunking information into blocks helps learning as there’s only so much space available in the working memory. Focusing in on a small number of ideas makes the information manageable.

Primary and Recency (BEM) – People remember things from the beginning and the end better than the bits in the middle. Give your lesson lots of beginnings, middles and ends OR make sure that’s where you put the most important ideas.

Van Restorff Effect – Our brains notice things which are different and unusual. Use strategies to make things shocking, controversial or weird and they’re more likely to remember.

Zeigarnick Effect – The brain remembers uncompleted things better than completed ones, it keeps thinking about it after the time.  Unfinished ideas and tasks can force their brain into thinking about them once they’re gone.

Experiential versus abstract – If you’re going to use big abstract concepts give them real world, concrete examples to latch onto.

Principles and Relationships – It’s easier to remember the links between ideas than details or specifics; try and link ideas and concepts together.

Learning by Examples – Most of us learn more easily through stories, narratives, case studies and anecdotes than by just getting dry facts.

Multiple Sensory Encoding – Using sensory encoding to add details,and build a rich and vivid verbal picture and they’re more likely to recall that information in the future.

Consolidation and Support – New learning needs to resonate in the brain to consolidate it; if students have just learnt something get them to share it, use it and apply it.

After summing up these top strategies Nick left us one more thing to muse on…

“Curiosity is our greatest ally” – Nick Owen

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