Effective Pedagogical Practices - in detail
Effective approaches are based on evidence
Teachers are best placed to engage in effective pedagogical practices when they can competently select and use high quality resources and/or approaches that have been built around a strong evidence base.
With a strong awareness of what has been demonstrated to be effective, the choice of particular pedagogical approach, or the selection of a particular program, will then depend on the response to identified student learning needs.
School leaders model effective practice
Masters (2010) suggests that principals need to take a strong leadership role in encouraging the use of research based teaching practices in all classrooms to ensure that every student is engaged, challenged and learning successfully. Effective principals will set high expectations across the school that effective teaching strategies will be used, and will act as instructional leaders in communicating, promoting and modeling evidence-based approaches which may include:
- teachers set high expectations for every student’s progress and ambitious targets for improving classroom performances
- all teachers implement teaching methods that have been shown to be effective in promoting successful learning for all
- teachers create classroom learning environments in which all students are engaged, challenged, feel safe to take risks and are supported to learn
- teachers work to build students’ beliefs in their own capacities to learn successfully and their understandings of the relationship between effort and success
- teachers provide regular and timely feedback to students in forms that make it clear what actions individuals can take to make further learning progress.
The importance of the principal’s role in assisting staff to engage in differentiated teaching approaches is also consistently highlighted in studies cited by Hattie (2009:236) who suggests “it is the differences in the teachers that make the difference in student learning.”
NSW schools use effective strategies
Each of the strategies above responds directly to students’ learning preferences, styles and interests. Research, supported by classroom consultations in NSW schools, implies that teachers need to engage in the following activities if differentiated teaching and learning are to have an impact on enhanced student outcomes:
- developing a clear understanding about what students’ learning needs actually are
- including what students need to be able to understand and also to do
- ensuring that teachers have a clear and comprehensive knowledge of what students already understand and can do
- understanding when instructional methodologies need to vary to accommodate differences in student learning needs or pace
- ensuring a range of strategies that can be employed to build variation into their teaching plan.
Teachers reflect on their work and that of students
Research published by Effective Philanthropy (2011) highlights the importance of teachers being able to adopt a reflective teaching approach if they are to become constantly responsive to student learning needs. The most effective teachers combine strong professional teaching skills with reflective teaching practice. They assess student performance on a regular and frequent basis to understand where each student is up to and what they need to be able to progress.
Where their students struggle to come to terms with an area, they start by looking at what they are doing as teachers and ask themselves what they can do/do differently to help the student to learn. They then adapt their teaching strategies and practices to help make that happen. They take responsibility for their students’ learning and look to themselves and what they can control to help their students to develop and learn.
Effective Philanthropy (2011). Successful Schooling: Techniques & Tools for Running a School to Help Students from Disadvantaged & Low Socio-Economic Backgrounds Succeed.
Erebus International (2012). Evaluation of the take-up and sustainability of new literacy and numeracy practices in NSW schools – Final Report for Phase 1, undertaken on behalf of the NSW Minister for Education
Erebus International (2013). Evaluation of the take-up and sustainability of new literacy and numeracy practices in NSW schools – Final Report for Phase 2, undertaken on behalf of the NSW Minister for Education
Hattie, J. (2009). Visible Learning: a synthesis of over 800 Meta- Analyses relating to Achievement. London: Routledge
Masters, G. (2010). Teaching and Learning School Improvement Framework. Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)