Great teaching enables effective learning, which ultimately reflects on student achievement.
Like professionals working in a company, results are the most important yardstick for the measurement of success. Several research studies seem to point that the most critical point for assessing teaching quality is the impact on student progress. Hence for a teaching method or framework to be considered as effective or trustworthy, it must be correlated with achievements and progress made by the students. For teaching methods to be delivered efficiently and accurately, the quality of teaching and teachers are equally important to achieve student results.
There are many views on what makes a teacher effective. Are they the ones who have perfectly organized classrooms, or the ones who ensure high score in exams? Effective teaching must be more than a mere successful transference of knowledge and skills. They must directly correlate to better performance of students during their end-exams. Effective teachers also have a direct influence in enhancing student learning by fostering deep understanding and critical thinking. Effective teaching combines a wide range of personal and professional qualities in teachers that are associated with higher levels of student achievement. This article focuses on the six key ingredients that every administrator and teacher should strive to develop. The most important components are listed first.
Deep Subject Knowledge
Great teachers must have in-depth subject knowledge. Strong understanding of subject matter helps them communicate the deeper concepts and nuances that students are expected to learn. Teachers with deep content knowledge are likely to better understand how students think about the content and the various methods they employ to learn. Teachers often must also identify and tackle common misconceptions in students.
Educators emphasize immense importance of in-depth subject matter knowledge in teachers and how it impacts student learning when it is absent. Teacher’s enthusiasm for the subject matter is also accentuated with learning styles and techniques that inspires students towards learning.
Teachers can follow specific practices that help in improving teaching quality. There is compelling evidence on how the following four practices directly impact student outcomes.
Cumulative and frequent review
Effective interim assessments have been critically linked to students being successful in their end-goal exams. One of the objectives of interim assessments is to test students frequently on current as well as past topics during a term. Emphasis is put on retaining knowledge learnt in previous terms. Assessments don’t turn into unit tests and students learn the rigor required to be successful. Interim assessments also provide teachers timely inputs on student’s weak points so that remedial actions can be taken before the end-term exams.
Providing model responses for students
Remedial action involves providing special attention to student’s deficiencies. One way it has shown to help is when teachers make expectations clear to the students. Providing model answers for distinct question types, sets the standard that is expected from each student and provides a clearer goal for them to achieve.
Quality teaching involves multiple practice sessions. Involving multiple techniques spanning classwork, homework and classroom exercises like games and group discussions etc. provide the time required for students to absorb and grasp the current topic before moving on to a new topic.
Progressive introduction of new topics
This practice follows from the previous line-item and recommends that teachers plan to introduce new topics slowly and in phases enabling students to retain skills while acquiring newer ones. This allows the teacher to self-evaluate the effectiveness of teaching during each topic as well.
While not as impactful as ‘Deep Subject Knowledge’ and ‘Quality of Teaching’, having an effective Teacher-Student interaction has an important effect on student outcomes. Teachers should gradually increase their expectation levels from students. A classroom that challenges its students helps instill a sense of purpose in students, making them work towards higher quality of work. High learning expectations must be set that ensures students reach mastery on each topic. It is recommended that methods focus more on the effort put forth by students and the grit they display, rather than their intelligence. Teachers should provide scaffolding to students so that the classroom environment still retains its warmth and safety rather than becoming hostile.
Managing the Classroom Environment
Teachers must be excellent classroom managers. The best lesson plan is of little use if teachers are unable to follow to it. Teachers should strive to create an environment that encourages questions, collaboration and think-aloud sessions while setting clear boundaries on student’s behavior. It is also important that rules are enforced consistently and fairly. Well-managed classrooms provide an environment where active teaching and learning can take place. Classroom management includes everything that a teacher does to organize students, while efficiently using classroom time, teaching tools and materials. Effective teachers can efficiently tackle all disciplinary problems by keeping students interested in learning by using exciting classroom materials and activities.
Commitment and Belief
Teachers’ beliefs play a significant role in shaping their instructional behaviors, and thus what students learn. There are two important phases in which teachers align with their learning plans. Phase 1 involves lesson planners creating common content for various sections within the same grade and training teachers. Phase 2 involves different teachers executing the lesson plans using their individual methods in respective sections. Teacher’s commitment and beliefs towards the content of the lesson plan, their perception on its value and the impact it would have on students learning, is as important as the lesson plan itself. Hence it becomes very important for administrators, lesson planners and teachers to work collaboratively while working on instruction planning. It also becomes important that teacher’s feedback is collected, discussed and incorporated into lesson plans to ensure that they are aligned and believe in the effectiveness of the instruction plan.
Teachers are expected to be professional and to be responsible for many other activities than classroom teaching. Teaching is a collaborative process where multiple stakeholders are involved. An environment that provides quality education must ensure constant professional development of teachers through new training programs. Teachers must be able to work in teams and collaborate for preparing lesson plans and become mentors to train new teachers. They are expected to assess curriculum and the effectiveness of their teaching methods by collecting feedback from parents, students and school administrators. Ultimately the goal should be to constantly improve oneself and the school environment that directly impacts student’s progress and achievement.
A quality teaching environment is something which all schools strive for. Teachers form the most important part of the environment, because they are probably the only point of contact between students, administrators, lesson planners and parents.