from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A cliff or quarry exposing chalk, e.g. the White Cliffs of Dover
  • n. The environment where teaching is carried out, specifically a school (a metaphor for coalface, after the chalk used on school blackboards).
  • n. A musical concept or genre in which music is completely improvised and never played twice. Most often mixing elements of hip-hop, metal, punk and avant-garde jazz.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

This term is believed to have been coined by Prof. Ted Wragg, for his Times Educational Supplement column. At the time the term was coined, coal mining was still seen as the hardest, dirtiest, most dangerous job there was. The term must have resonated strongly with a put-upon teaching profession as it quickly came into general use.


  • The last category in particular leads us into areas which we may not always be aware of at the chalkface/in the classroom, but which underline the strategic significance of the work which goes on there.

    C is for Curriculum « An A-Z of ELT

  • Teaching awards winners offer a view from the chalkface for the benefit of politicians and colleagues

    The government's academies bill was a hot topic at the latest Teaching awards ceremony

  • Day to day here on the chalkface, almost every grammar explanation is a compromise between being accurate assuming it is even a point that the experts agree on and being easy to understand, use and remember.

    On postpositions

  • As I said, I think we need to celebrate the strengths of both, whilst working towards our profession reflecting the majority of teachers in the world working at the chalkface, who are, I think we would all agree, Non-NEST teachers of English.

    Guest blog: More on the NEST/non-NEST divide (or does it exist at all?) « Ken Wilson's Blog

  • Developing educational screencasts – practical tips and pedagogical issues from the chalkface

    EdTech 2008

  • This is particularly so in the case of teachers who have been at the chalkface for many years and whose sense of vocation is under strain.

    curriculum reform will not improve education without quality teachers

  • This is because it has all gone on extra National Insurance contributions and pensions - very little has been seen at the chalkface.

    Archive 2004-07-01

  • It has been a good day at the chalkface for me and, I hope, for my students and nary a piece of chalk in sight. posted by Jo McLeay @ 2:39 PM

    A good day at the chalkface

  • The Cape Teachers 'Professional Association on Monday urged Asmal to ensure that "educators at the chalkface", especially those with some experience of the system, were included on the review committee.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • In my years at the chalkface I came across a boy who liked to sit in a warm room quietly reading, but the other boys would quickly find him and smack his book into the air, so in the main, boys and girls do have conflicting requirements, and arrangements must be made.

    The Guardian World News


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.