Effective Teaching and Their Implications for Improving Student Learning
Posted by on May 21, 2012
Beyond questions of hiring and firing
For an article in The Harvard Educational Review, Anthony Bryk, Heather Harding, and Sharon Greenberg convened scholars and practitioners with a range of perspectives to explore questions about the emerging national narrative on effective teachers. The roundtable agreed on general aspects of effective teaching, which include teachers’ belief in students’ capabilities, personal commitments of time and effort to advance student learning, basic practices around organization and management of classroom activity, routines for promoting student engagement, and norms about classroom work. Specific knowledge and skill around subject matter and how to teach it (i.e., pedagogical content knowledge) were also considered critical to deepen practice. Differences arose around how teacher candidates are recruited, how new teachers are prepared, and what assignments they are asked to undertake. These have implications when considering ways to identify highly effective teachers for reassignment to turnaround schools, and whether they will be equally effective in a different community context. Participants agreed that improvement at scale is not a question of whom to hire or fire, but of developing everyone’s capacity to be the most effective teacher possible. We currently have a “non-system” for preparing new teachers, mentoring them, and supporting them to continuously improve. Taken together, the roundtable observations suggest teacher development requires a blend of school-based, professional community and networked learning organized around subject matter, grade levels, and student learning needs. Focus must be directly on novice teachers, and separately on veteran teachers around enhancing knowledge and skill in specific subject matter and how best to teach it.
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