As teachers, we need to ensure that our teaching is effective and considers the needs of all our students. According to Killen (2007) are 5 keys aspects of effective teaching; teacher clarity, instructional variety, teacher task orientation, engagement in learning, learner success. (p.106). During my first visit at my placement school, I noticed my colleague teacher adapting and integrating these key aspects throughout her teaching day.
The first one being teacher clarity. Quite often students can present with challenging and off task behaviours, this is usually due to being unsure of what exactly they are expected to do. This can be avoided if the instructions are clearly explained and structured by the teacher. Teachers need to break down the instructions into clear logical steps; this is referred to as cognitive clarity. Killen (2007) states ‘to give students a clear explanation of something you need to use language and speech patterns that will not confuse them’ (p.107).
My colleague teacher successfully adapted this strategy when giving direct instruction to the class; she explained the required task when the students were sitting on the floor. Once the students had been sent back to their desks, the teacher used a method of questioning for clarity, meaning she was asking the students procedural questions of what they were doing, what comes next. This allowed her to examine if the students had a clear understanding of the task and in return, the task requirements were being explained again. The teacher then placed a visual prompt on the interactive board detailing the task.
Once the students had been working, the teacher reconfirmed the task requirements by asking if there were any students unsure of what they were to do next.
This strategy was also adopting the aspect of instructional variety. Whilst there was only one task being implemented, the teacher explained it a multiple forms. For example, verbal direct instruction, questioning for clarity and visual prompts. This method also takes into consideration that not all students learn in the same way or in this case take in instruction the same way. As Killen (2007) says ‘students perceive and gain knowledge differently, form ideas and think differently, and have different background knowledge, skills and dispositions, a ‘’one size fits’’ all approach to teaching is unlikely to be successful’. (p.109). It is important we as teachers remember this idea and are conscious of it during our teaching.
By adopting these strategies, we as teachers are working smarter not harder. I found this image and that it was well suited to this idea.
Image taken from: http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/e/effective_teaching.asp
This idea of recognising that students learn differently, so therefore we need to vary our approach to meet their needs has been highlight in the The NSW Institute of Teachers’ Professional Teaching Standards.
Element 2; Aspect 2.1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of students’different approaches to learning.
Killen, R. (2007) Using direct instruction as a teaching strategy. In Effective Teaching Strategies: Lessons from Research and Practice, (4th Ed.) (pp 101-124). Thomson Social Science Press.