Teaching What Essential Characteristics Effective Teaching Your Essay

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What essential characteristics effective teaching. Your essay include: Introduction - establishes interpretation topic, covering aspects effective teaching addressed essay; I things lesson preparation, communication, knowledge student's level knowledge, & classroom management, & assessment

What are the essential characteristics of effective teaching?

Using scaffolding in a mixed-level 5th grade math classroom

One of the most critical aspects of effective teaching is having a clear understanding of student's different levels of ability. A teacher is a performer in many respects, and a good performer knows his or her audience well. Aspects the teacher must consider are the level of previous preparation of different students; levels of ability; the enthusiasm of the class for the subject, and the different learning styles present within the class. This will determine aspects of the presentation such as the assumptions the teacher brings to the lesson, the need for review, and the use of visual aids and alternative means of instruction beyond that of the traditional lecture format.

According to Vygotsky, one of the founding principles of all learning is scaffolding and this requires the teacher to be able to "actively diagnose student needs and understandings - The teacher must be knowledgeable of content and sensitive to the students (e.g., aware of the students' background knowledge and misconceptions) to determine if they are making progress" (Larkin 2002). For example, a gifted class may be frustrated if there is a great deal of review before a lesson, while students who face many challenges (such coming from deprived backgrounds or who speak English as a second language) may need more review. Even the time of the school year may be a factor. When students come back from the summer, they may be more distracted and it may be necessary to 'center' them by asking them information about what they remember, and integrating it in with the new material.

Once the teacher has a better idea of the orientation of the class, she or he can structure lesson plans to incorporate different learning needs and styles. Some students may absorb information best by doing; others by listening; others through visual means. That is why it is so important for teachers to solicit feedback through early formative assessments, to gain a sense of the class character and levels. Formative assessments, such as quizzes and small assignments, are less designed in a punitive fashion or to provide a grade as they are to give feedback about the class to the teacher. They enable the teacher to modify instruction according with the results. In some instances, it may be appropriate to engage in direct consultation with students about the goals of the lesson. "Pre-engagement with the student and the curriculum" may thus take a variety of forms, but some form of feedback is required (Larkin 2002).

Effective teachers are thus both masters of their subjects and good 'readers' of people. It is not enough merely to know the subject matter: the teacher must have a road map of what the students are supposed to assimilate and understand different pedagogical strategies to help them attain those goals. Sometimes, deviating from the lesson plan may be necessary, but the goal must be defined.

Significant evidence

As seen in the videotape of Melcombe Primary School teacher Florence Robert's instruction of her 5th grade class, one of the most effective ways to teach a class is scaffolding upon what students already know. The teacher begins the lesson by asking questions about what the students already know about multiplication, and throughout the lesson she disperses new knowledge, like the use of the grid system, with easier questions that she is confident that the students know such as 'what is 4x6' and definitions of certain mathematical terms they have previously reviewed like 'partitioning.' "Scaffolding gives students a context, motivation, or foundation from which to understand the new information that will be introduced during the coming lesson" by "activating prior knowledge" (Lewis 2012).

The math teacher also breaks the lesson down into sections so the students can understand it better. She uses a mix of techniques. First, she engages in an active, involved lecture where she asks many questions, keeping all students interested. Despite the large class size and different levels of ability, she is careful to ensure students do not get left behind. She reinforces learning by repeating questions, such as asking on several different occasions what is meant by different terms. By "modeling the thought process for students through 'think aloud' talk," students can internalize the thought processes in their heads (Lewis 2012). To ensure in a mixed-level class that all students are 'on board' when she moves forward, the teacher offers "hints or partial solutions to problems" with "verbal cues to prompt student answers" when needed (Lewis 2012).

The teacher also uses a mix of collective and independent work. Students solve problems collectively, so they have additional social reinforcement and a sense of mastery over the material, before doing it individually. A variety of engagement strategies are used, spanning from "cueing or prompting, questioning, modeling, telling, or discussing" to ensure that the students are continually involved in the classroom process and no student is left behind. Even students who do not comprehend everything right away are still encouraged to remain focused upon the lesson through active, focused questions, with the hopes that their learning will be activated over time. Even for slower students, seeing their peers perform at a high level can be motivating, and make them want to try hard as well.

An effective teacher can use a variety of techniques simultaneously to reach students. Visual and verbal cues are used, and students are encouraged to participate through volunteered engagement as well as to actively listen to the teacher. The teaching philosophy behind the lesson also embodies the scaffolding techniques of "breaking a complex task into easier, more 'doable' steps to facilitate student achievement" (Lewis 2012). Students are shown how even the simplest of times tables can be applied to higher-level grid mathematics and by "showing students an example of the desired outcome before they complete the task" they are more easily able to model their own performance upon the teacher's expectations (Lewis 2012). This type of modeling sets students up for success rather than failure. It is very intimidating to look at a long, mathematical problem and feel confident that one can reach the end, but by breaking down the process, students gain a sense of confidence and feel they can achieve the goal.

By asking student questions aloud, students feel affirmed when they get a question right. However, when the teacher must correct a student, she does so gently -- and immediately. The teacher is firm in achieving her goal for the lesson but she ensures that the lesson is paced so as to include all students on the journey. The students also know and understand the rationale for the lesson plan before it begins. She explains why different methods of multiplication are important to learn, and why students are learning more than one method. Scaffolding uses "a motivational context to pique student interest or curiosity in the subject at hand" (Lewis 2012). Without explaining to students why it is important that they learn a new multiplication method, it is very likely that an instructor might be faced with a great deal of eye-rolling at what they saw as unnecessary complications.

What is particularly impressive about Florence Robert's instructional strategy is the degree to which she uses so many of the principles of scaffolding, without slavishly adhering to a specific lesson plan. She is responsive to the student's needs and levels of comprehension, while still guided by the concepts of reinforcing existing knowledge and modeling new and difficult concepts in a step-by-step fashion. She obviously has confidence over her subject matter, and can anticipate student questions. She has a good sense of what aspects of the lesson will be most challenging for the students, but still has confidence that they can complete the tasks.

In fact, Roberts' lesson style very closely follows the traditional scaffold lesson structure of Ellis & Larkin (1998). First, "the teacher does it - In other words, the teacher models how to perform a new or difficult task" (Larkin 2002). Then, "the class does it - The teacher and students work together to perform the task" as when Roberts outlines the math technique on the board (Larkin 2002). Next, on their white boards, "the group does it - Students work with a partner or a small cooperative group" and finally in an individual setting the student completes the task alone (Larkin 2002).


Although the video only showed one lesson, another principle of scaffolding is that students should gain more and more mastery over the content as lessons progress. "When students are learning new or difficult tasks, they are given more assistance. As they begin to demonstrate task mastery, the assistance or support is decreased gradually in order to shift the responsibility for learning from the teacher…[continue]

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