I was asked recently what are my elements of effective instruction. This can be a tough question to answer if we differ on what is important in a classroom. This can also be controversial if our definition of "effective" differ from each other. My passion or niche in being a leader is in instructional methods. I find myself reading and wanting to know more ways for students to excel in school. One thing I will admit is I don't enjoy reading the "research papers and theory-type" articles. I just don't have time for all of that. I want real. I want just the meat and potatoes and not all the fluff and jargon. When I find authors who give you information in a straight forward way, I tend to keep reading.
So with that being said, I made a list of my elements of effective instruction in an easy to read format.
Teachers need an appropriate amount of uninterrupted instructional time to teach, to plan and enough time to give students feedback. If your classes are always cut short, student achievement will suffer. Are teachers given enough time to plan for lessons? I'm not an administrator who wants or needs drawn out lesson plans that takes hours and days to perfect. I would rather the teacher use their time creating engaging lessons than in front of a computer typing and mapping out their every minute of the day. Students need feedback. There must be time for teachers to stop and ask questions. Also, teachers need time to answer those questions and time to reteach when necessary. Time also means pacing of the lesson. We don't want it to move like molasses or too fast either.
E is for Engagement and Expectations.
I have shared engagement with you many, many times. Students must be engaged. It cannot be an after thought. We, as adults, can always relate when we are asked to sit in Professional Development sessions that are just dreadful. Engaging lessons are fun to watch. I love seeing students excited about the lesson. They are curious and eager to learn more. These kinds of lessons make my heart smile!
A is for assessments.
I believe assessments are important and very useful. We get tons of data from them. However, please note that we can over assess. Assess when it is necessary to assess. Make sure your assessment is valid by assessing what has been taught. It must be a fair assessment. Use the data to determine your direction and focus in the classroom and which students are excelling or those who are inadequately performing.
C is for curriculum alignment.
Are we teaching what we should be teaching in that grade level. Make sure it is aligned to the state expectations. It is equally important that we, as leaders, train our teachers in knowing the standards.
H is for hands-on, interactive activities.
Hands-on has been proven to help close the achievement gap. It helps to rekindle the love of learning. It fosters critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. I have witnessed unmotivated students get excited about school and become excited about the lesson just because the lesson was interactive. There are so many instructional strategies now that allow us not to just think hands-on means math and science. The use of task cards, student response systems and center/station activities allow us to use hands hands-on in reading, language arts and social studies too.
What are your elements of effective instruction?