What does it mean to teach? Moore (2001) defines teaching as “the actions of someone who is trying to assist others to reach their fullest potential in all aspects of development”.
Teachers must be mentors, effective subject matter experts, counselors and social psychologists. Teachers teach students. The intent is to bring about learning. Therefore, to maximize learning, one must take into account student needs, differences and abilities.
Teaching requires a large stock of skills and the ability to put these skills to use in different situations. Good teachers provide learning without rehearsal. Not one approach works equally well all the time and in all situations. The need is to be flexible according to situations. In short, effectiveness depends on the subject, students and environmental conditions.
Effective teaching is complicated. The better teacher, however, are proactive, that is they are active information processors and decision makers. They are strongly committed to the importance of content delivery and tend to be task oriented.
They understand the demand of teaching their content, the characteristics of their students, and the importance of decision making in keeping students on task. Research suggests that teacher knowledge of subject matter, student learning and teaching methods are important elements of effective teaching.
To be effective, teachers must inquire into students’ experiences and build an understanding of learners and a capacity to analyze what occurs in classrooms and in the lives of their students. The need is to become a reflective teacher rather than being a teacher.
To be a Reflective Teacher
A model that is receiving much attention is the concept of the teacher as a reflective decision maker. Donald Cruickshank (1987), the primary architect of reflective teaching, suggests that reflective teachers consider their teaching carefully and, as a result, are more thoughtful and alert. Reflective teachers ask themselves such questions as, “What am I doing and why?” “How can I better meet my students’ needs?” “What are some alternative learning activities to achieve my objectives?” “How could I have encouraged more involvement or learning on the part of the students?”
Self-knowledge and self-assessment are hallmarks of reflective practice. Good teachers are constantly evaluating their own behaviour and finding better ways of doing thing so that it can become productive. Reflective teacher is one who keeps on reviewing their own teaching skills and who keep a vision of teaching. Reflective teachers learn all they can learn about teaching from both theory and practice. They teach and reflect on teaching. To reflect means to evaluate and review the utility of teaching.
Reflective teaching requires teacher to be critical i.e. to ask basic, but often difficult, questions about the appropriateness and success of teaching. For example- If a lesson is unsuccessful, how teaching can be changed to make it successful? If students aren’t motivated, what can be done to motivate them? If grades are poor, how can achievement be improved? Even when lessons go well, reflective teachers analyze the lesson to determine what went well and why and how else things might have been done. Teaching practices tend to become routine with time and are repeated with very little or no forethought. Through, reflective teaching teacher can examine student satisfaction with a lesson or examine whether all students were actively involved in a lesson. Reflective teachers learn to formulate their own rules, principles, and philosophies that can guide them to better practices. In other words, teacher who reflect on their practices-who submit them to examination or evaluation- become better decision maker and consequently better planners and more successful teachers. Thinking about teaching, testing new ideas, and evaluating the results improve teaching practice. Effective teachers know that good teaching is more than simply explaining, lecturing and discussing. To be effective, teachers must be well organized.
Effective Classroom Organization
Classroom must be organized or disorganized. However, an organized classroom can do magic on developing students learning capacity. The thoughtfully structured classroom is one which has appropriate content, materials and methods, and interaction patterns and which allows students to engage in meaningful tasks. Well-organized classroom is business like: classes get started on time, teacher comes prepared with content, material, and understanding of instructional strategies along with learning environment. Students know what they have to do in class time. They understand the importance of lesson and activities or assignments and find it interesting and challenging. Teaching is based on interaction with students where both teacher and students can ask questions and develop a discussion platform so that the process can become both sided. Teacher must see that all students are actively participating in discussion or conducting activities together.
Finally, when a lecture is presented or a group activity is conducted, it should be well organized with clear well-illustrated explanations. Students must be informed about the rationale behind every lesson taught or activities conducted. Lesson content should be presented in a sequential logical order and all the units must be interrelated and interwoven.
Skills of Effective Teachers
Effective teaching is a complex occupation that requires the development of knowledge and essential teaching skills, as well as continuous professional growth. Danielson (1996) suggested four main skill areas of effective teaching:
Quality planning and preparation
Most people assume all you really need to be an effective teacher is an understanding of content. They assume that once you have a thorough knowledge of your content, it is simply a matter of telling students what you know. In reality, knowing subject is only part of the instructional process. Effective teachers must spend considerable time and energy planning the activities, materials, and evaluation elements associated with teaching the content. Effective teachers need
· a knowledge of content and pedagogy (know their subject and how to teach it),
· a knowledge of students (know how students learn and develop)
· the ability to select instructional goals (set appropriate expectations)
· a knowledge of resource (can locate materials and people that will enhance instruction)
· the ability to design instruction (can plan effective lesson plans), and
· the ability to design student evaluation (can design fair and meaningful evaluation).
The Classroom Environment
Effective teachers must create and maintain an environment in which learning can take place.
Planning classroom environments that allow for positive student learning experiences requires skills at
· creating an environment of respect and rapport (create caring teacher-student and peer relationship)
· establishing a culture for learning (create an environment in which learning is valued and meaningful experiences occur)
· managing the classroom (success at management of the business of the classroom)
· managing student behaviour), and
· organizing physical space (positive use of classroom space)
Instructional strategies must be planned that can captivate the interest of the students and motivate them to learn. Techniques would include such skills as questioning, using student ideas and contributions, and reinforcing. Effective teachers plan and use instructional techniques that
· communicate clearly and accurately (use strong verbal and written communication skills)
· use effective questioning and discussion techniques (use different types of questions and responses)
· engage students in learning (actively involve students in learning)
· provide feedback to students (provide information on progress)
· are flexible and responsive (spontaneously modify lessons based on feedback)
Effective teachers strive to improve their knowledge and skills in instruction while working to make significant contributions to their school and community. They work to become true professionals. True professional teachers
· reflect on their teaching (thoughtfully consider what was taught and how well it was taught)
· maintain accurate records (keep written records to document student learning)
· communicate with families (stay in written or verbal contact with families to support student progress)
· contribute to the school and district (support functions of the school and district)
· grow as professionals (take courses and workshops and consult with others), and
· show professionalism (serve as advocates for students and families)
Some of the distinguished characteristics of effective teachers are as following:
1. Effective teachers receive effective pre-service training and re-educate themselves constantly (individual elements: knowledge of methods and practices, knowledge of psychology, self-education, and knowledge of school matters and procedures).
2. They possess the ability to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences (individual elements: cooperativeness, good interpersonal relationships, appreciation of democratic values, conversation ability, and friendliness).
3. They possess good instructional skills (individual elements: respect for individual differences, programming ability, clarity of goals, and capability of being methodical in his/her work).
4. They love children (individual elements: acceptance, encouragement, fairness, and kindness).
5. They are characterized by professionalism and commitment to their work (individual elements: love for the profession, dutifulness, awareness of the profession’s significance, and time management).
6. They have well-rounded personality (individual elements: flexibility, adaptability, creative imagination, self-esteem, pleasant mood, and confidence).
A Model of Effective Teaching
Good teaching requires a constant series of professional decisions that affect the probability that students will learn. Good teaching helps students to achieve mastery of the subject. These are the seven sequential steps in a model of effective teaching:
1. Diagnosing the learning situation
2. Planning the course
3. Planning the instruction
4. Guiding learning activities
5. Evaluating learning
7. Following up
Step 1 involves selecting the curriculum to be taught. This selection is based on the needs of students, the society, and the subject. Teachers must diagnose what students already know and what they need to know.
Step 2 is to plan and outline exactly what will be taught in the course. Teacher identify the curriculum areas to be addressed and the amount of time allocated to the areas outlined.
Step 3 involves developing unit and daily plans. In other words, teacher decides exactly what students should know and plan the activities accordingly. Essentially, objectives are written and the instructional strategy is selected.
Step 4 involves teaching the planned activities. Teacher guides the students through the planned sequence of activities, using knowledge of students learning theory, and effective teaching techniques.
Step 5 determine whether teacher have accomplished the instructional intent; that is, evaluating students’ mastery of the specific thought. The results of the evaluation tell what to do next. If students show mastery, teacher can start the next planning cycle. If the mastery is not demonstrated, follow up is needed.
Step 6 is to reflect on the success of the lesson. Teacher must determine whether the lesson accomplished its intended purpose. Teacher must analyze all available information and address reteaching needs and make changes in the lesson if it is to be taught again.
Step 7 is follow up session, that is, to present a brief summary of the materials covered, while at other times, extensive reteaching may be necessary. The extent of follow up depends on the findings of the evaluation analysis.
A Sequential and Cyclic Model of Teaching
Quality Dimensions for Effective Teaching
It is easy to be a teacher but it is equally challenging to be an effective teacher. To be an effective teacher it is important to consider what knowledge, skills and values must characterize professional teaching. A teacher can become an effective teacher by gaining and practicing quality dimensions of teaching. These quality dimensions include both knowledge and performance. The quality dimensions of teaching define teaching standards and provide benchmark for selection, accreditation, promotion, professional development and support of teachers. Every school must assess these quality dimensions of teachers.
Dimension 1: Content Knowledge
The teacher understands the central concepts, methods of inquiry and structures of the subject(s) and knows how to create meaningful learning experiences for different students, while relating to relevant developments in educational theory. S/he demonstrates knowledge of latest developments in educational theory and research-based subject specific pedagogies. S/he demonstrates knowledge of the school curriculum requirements.
Dimension 2: Instructional Delivery
The teacher possesses good knowledge of different instructional strategies and uses them to encourage students’ development of critical thinking, problem solving, independent learning skills based upon knowledge of discipline, student diversity, the community, and the curriculum goals.
S/he knows how to improve learning for students with diverse learning characteristics through the use of different materials, human and technological resources. She varies his/her role during the teaching-learning process as instructor, facilitator, mentor or audience in relation to the content and aims of instruction and the need of students.
Dimension 3: Personal and Professional Conduct and Growth
The teacher continuously reflects and evaluates how choices and actions affect student, and actively seeks opportunities to grow professionally and personally. S/he demonstrates respect for the culture, religion, gender and sexual orientation of individual students and their families. S/he uses classroom observation, information about students, pedagogical knowledge and research as resources for active reflection, evaluation and revision of practice.
Dimension 4: Learning and Development
The teacher understands how individual grow, develop and learn. S/he provides learning opportunities that support the intellectual, social, and personal development of all students. S/he demonstrates knowledge of different learning styles and needs and strategies for teaching students with different needs. S/he understands principles of and strategies for effective classroom management, while keeping in mind official policies and regulations. S/he uses information about students’ families, cultures and communities for connecting instruction to students’ experiences and prior learning.
Dimension 5: Communication Skills
The teacher uses knowledge of effective written, verbal, nonverbal, and visual communication techniques to foster self-expression, collaboration and supportive interaction in the classroom. S/he understands communication theories, language development, and the role of language in learning. S/he uses effective question techniques and stimulates discussion in different ways for specific instructional purposes. S/he practices effective listening, conflict resolution, and group-facilitation skills.
Dimension 6: Assessment, Monitoring and Providing Effective Feedback
The teacher exhibits a broad range of effective formative and summative assessment strategies and uses them to support the continuous intellectual, social, physical, and emotional development outcomes of all students. S/he understands the purposes, characteristics and limitations of different kinds of assessment (e.g. formative and summative; authentic and curriculum-based assessment). S/he understands how to use the results of assessments to reflect on, and modify teaching-learning approaches. S/he knows methods for monitoring progress of learners with learning difficulties or minor/moderate disabilities.
Dimension 7: Collaborative Relationship
The teacher demonstrates understanding of the role of the community in education and maintains collaborative relationship with colleagues, parents/guardians and the community to support student learning and well-being. S/he understands the benefits, barriers and techniques involved in parent/family relationships. S/he participates in collaborative decision-making and problem solving with other professional to achieve student success.
Cruickshank, D. R. (1987). Reflection teaching. Reston, VA: Association of Teacher Educators.
Danielson, C. (1996). Enhancing professional practice: A framework for teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Moore, K. D. (2001). Classroom teaching skills (5th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.
Moore, K.D. (2009). Effective Instructional Strategies (2nd ed.). London. Sage Publications.