Best Practice

Modelling and scaffolding in the classroom

Modelling and scaffolding are at the heart of effective pedagogy. Adam Riches offers some classroom ideas and advice for trainee and early career teachers on this crucial element of practice

We don’t always appreciate the amount of new information, new skills and new understanding that learners sometimes have to process in a day. The sheer volume is frankly astounding and making that new learning stick is imperative to their success.

Effective modelling and scaffolding reduces the extraneous load on students’ working memories and strengthens schema, making learning more efficient, more manageable, and easier for them to retrieve. Try the following approaches.


For years now, I have used the analogy of drawing an object when I conceptualise the importance of modelling and scaffolding.

Take a tree for example. If I asked you to draw a tree, with no further instruction or support, you would intuitively draw what you interpret a tree to look like. Regardless of your artistic talents, your tree would differ significantly from a tree drawn by anyone else. You may draw a palm tree, a tree with no leaves, even a money tree – the options are infinite.

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