I’ve been busy reading John Hattie’s Visible Learning for Teachers this past few weeks. I’ll tell you I cant help but reflect on my own teaching practice as I read. In his book, Hattie shares 2010 findings from the Gates Foundation Measures of Effective Teaching Project http://www.metproject.org/ One of the very interesting findings from this research was around student perceptions of highly effective and less effective teachers based on their experiences in these teachers’ classrooms. The research asked students (n=3000) about how they see the classes of teachers who have added higher than expected achievement gains compared with students in classes where gains were much lower. The findings identified several key differences between highly effective and less effective teachers in 7 dimensions of their work – care, control, clarify, challenge, captivate, confer, consolidate.
If you ask my friends where my deepest passion resides they would probably tell you that its focused on engaging children in healthy, active outdoor activity. I love this stuff. Getting kids our on bikes or skis or exploring natural spaces – its what I’ve given my time and energy to for much of my career. I have taught alot of childreo how to cross country ski – my passion has been advancing skill and understanding about efficient motor skill development that leads ultimately (I hope) to increased enjoyment of sport and technical performance of skills in the children of outdoor physical activity. Much of my reflection and learning about teaching kids outdoor physical activity has been shared out on my coaching blog – http://www.roystrumxcskicoaching.blogspot.ca
Like most teachers, I am to make a difference in the work I do. The Gates Foundation research points out some good things for teachers to reflect on in their work to advance effectiveness.
Care – highly effective teachers make students feel that he/she is cared about. Building relationships that advance learning is critical. In my numerous years of coaching, finding things out about kids and showing interest in them as a whole person has been a key to my work.
Control – students in highly effective teachers’ classes treat the teacher with respect; classes are busy and students dont waste time. I have found that a combination of enthusiasm, high expectation around listening to instruction, and positive reinforcement have worked really well in my work as a PE/OE teacher
Clarify – highly effective teachers can explain difficult ideas well. In my work teaching kids to cross country ski, I have found that the language you use can either make things easier or harder to grasp – pointing out that you want kids to ski on ‘one foot, then the other foot’ is so much easier to conceptualization than ‘improve your weight shift’.
Challenge – in classes where highly effective teachers work students feel they learn alot everyday. Doing more than rolling out the ball is important – building understanding and offering lots of feedback is super important in creating a challenging learning environment.
Captivate – Highly effective teachers make lessons intereating. Feedback from my students and athletes have let me know that relating physics concepts to a skill session is interesting and concept building. Plus I’ve worked hard at sharing enthusiasm
Confer – highly effective teachers create spaces where students speak up and share their ideas.
Consolidate – highly effective teachers check to make sure that students understand. This is the important work of checking in with kids about their level of understanding of the idea being presented. ‘Does that make sense?’
Like most teachers, I learn everyday. I learn from noticing if kids are getting the concepts of the work i am presenting. I learn from sharing ideas with colleagues. I learn from taking some risks with the work I do – trying something new and never, ever feeling like I’ve arrived.
Thinking about improving teaching practice is a conversation I enjoy having. I’m found on twitter at JRStrum if you want to continue the conversation sometime.