The Essential Characteristics Of Effective Teaching Education Essay

Introduction:

Teachers enter the teaching profession to impart their knowledge and make a difference in a young persons’ life. Teachers want students to succeed. The way this knowledge is imparted to a student will be dramatically different from one teacher to another. Being an effective teacher is not achieved instantly or "overnight", but simply by continual improvement and reassessing processes to achieve successful results.

Within the classroom, teachers need to apply many practices to enable students to learn effectively and achieve maximum potential. Some of these essential characteristics of effective teaching will be discussed in this essay. The importance of providing a positive learning environment, creation of dynamic and effective lessons, flexible delivery through the use of a number of strategies, greatly increases the potential for students to achieve their maximum learning. An effective teacher will strive for the "Kaizen" and to be successful in improving student learning outcomes. (Koutsoukis, 2007)

Significant evidence:

For students to achieve their maximum learning potential, teachers must implement and deliver effective lessons. These lessons not only must link to the relevant Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) strand, but must also be delivered successfully. Students will learn if the plan is motivating and interesting, and teachers must match teaching strategies to the learning plan objectives. An effective teacher is one who reflects on their knowledge of how best to develop a lesson plan that is engaging and exciting, and will deliver the appropriate knowledge in the best possible way to the student. An effective lesson plan may reflect a number of teaching characteristics – delivery of teaching and learning strategies, behaviour management and the classroom environment. These are all reflected in Appendix One – Lesson Plan. It demonstrates a number of elements to gain student interest and ensure effective involvement. These are detailed further in the essay. Teaching strategies such as Constructivism, direct instruction, effective questioning are used to ensure the ACARA Science strand ACSSU080, is delivered in the most effective way. (ACARA, 2013)

To be an effective teacher, a teacher must establish strategies for students to feel the sense of belonging within the classroom. Providing a positive and inclusive learning environment enables the student to feel safe and secure. Students with this sense of belonging are more likely to respond with appropriate behaviours and play an active part in class participation rather than against the teacher. (Bennett & Smilanich, 1994) A positive relationship must be formed between teacher and student, and to establish this relationship respect from the student must be gained. To gain this respect however, the teacher must first show respect, students must feel accepted and their contributions valued. The teacher must show a positive and genuine concern in the students’ interests and display positive affirmations and recognition of a students’ contribution, not dismissal - even if the answer to a question is incorrect. A genuine greeting by a teacher after an absence is one example of how to encourage students.

Compassion, empathy and patience are also attributes for a successful student/teacher relationship. (Killen, R., 2005, p. 34) All students achieve at different rates and a teacher must be patient and persistent for these students to succeed. Teachers need to be confident in their own knowledge and enthusiastic when presenting their lesson. Teachers who deliver their material in this manner, are more likely to succeed in motivating their students. (Killen, 2005, p. 33) In the Science – Modelling Light video, students were continually shown respect by the teacher. In response to student’s answers, the teacher gave positive remarks in return showing she valued their input – ie: "That’s a really good explanation." . (Neil, n.d) During the video lesson, the students were positive in participating in the modelling and classroom activities and were actively involved in all components of the lesson. In Appendix One hands-on shared experience, while moving from group to group as detailed. The teacher may show praise and positive reinforcement with verbal comments such as "Great team work everyone. You are working so well as a group."

A number of classroom environment factors influence the successful learning of students and are important for effective teaching. Consideration of: desk and furniture placements; accessibility of high traffic areas; floor space; reducing noise; room temperature; and seating arrangements must be given high priority and should be reviewed depending on the teaching task at hand. The classroom environment must facilitate the teaching rather than impede it. (Marsh, 2010, p. 72) Group work activities may require desks to be joined together or pushed to a side to maximise student participation and group involvement. This would need to be considered in Appendix One during the shared experience activity.

A positive learning environment results in positive classroom behaviour. A teacher must display proactive classroom management. How a student behaves and acts, is determined by the influences on his/her life, namely: family (care, stresses, parental attitudes to education), peer (social prejudices and authority), personal (personality, learning styles, social) and school (communications, leadership), all of which have a dramatic effect on a student’s behaviour. (Marsh, 2010, p. 221) Teachers must be considerate of those influences and the effects they have within the classroom, and minimise factors which may increase the angst that a student may feeling. Students will feel secure if they know the classroom is consistently a positive and safe environment.

To provide this consistency, the teacher must establish classroom routines, rules and effective communication, addressing behaviour expectations for a positive classroom environment and completion of classroom activities. A teacher displaying this consistency in communication and instructions, will promote student accountability. (Whitton et al, 2010) These routines and rules may be made solely by the teacher, or in collaboration with students and therefore giving ownership to the students. A routine may be formulated for group work to show respect to fellow students eg: listening quietly to student comments; hands-up for questions; (March, 2010, p. 225) or for the completion of work eg: completed workbooks to be placed on teachers desk. A classroom routine is evident in Appendix One activity closure section, where students are expected to place completed journal entries on the teachers desk.

Effective teaching also requires the teacher to be flexible in the delivery of teaching practices or instructional modes, and by doing so is more likely to achieve the success of effective teacher. (Marsh, 2010, p. 198) Flexibility in the expectations for students to reach their full potential through positive encouragement and modified teaching strategies, understanding that what is expected for one child will be different to that of another.

Active learning with constructivism, allows the student to construct relationships and their own meaning through problem based learning activities. Students are encouraged through dialogue with the teacher and fellow students, and relate new information to that of which they already have an understanding. Constructivism is the focus on maximising the understanding of the student and progression through scaffolding and assistance. (Marsh, 2010, p. 211)

Constructivism instructional mode also utilises collaborative and cooperative learning approaches. Both approaches are about establishing groups and working effectively in those groups. Collaborative learning enables the student to work independently or within the group when necessary and therefore has less group contact than cooperative learning. Activities that are cooperative based are solely group oriented. Group work (collaborative or cooperative) have some disadvantages requiring teachers to plan in these factors to contribute to successful outcomes for the groups. Issues may include things such as rivalry between group members, ability of individual students, interpersonal skills, group size and teacher management skills. (Fetherston, 2007, pp. 161-163)

As per Appendix One, a constructive approach is displayed in the reflection section. Problem based learning is displayed when students are given time to discuss the questions as a collaborative, and demonstrate this groups kowledge to the class. The seating arrangement also assists in the shared experience activity, by allowing for group discussion and to reflect on the task requirements.

Another teaching strategy is Discussion. During discussion, effective questioning must be purposeful and encourage the students to achieve a higher level of understanding. (Marsh, 2010, pp. 188-189) Discussion is both teacher and student directed and knowing when to use the most effective style of questioning is important. Preparation by the teacher is vital. Use of Blooms Taxonomy comprising of the 6 areas – Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation, is widely used in curriculum planning, as is the simplified What When How Who and Why? The use of both higher and lower level questioning should be included in lesson planning. Probing higher level questions are open ended and require discussion and the exchange of ideas, rather than simple lower level closed questioning. However, the aim of both should ultimately be to extend student thinking. Another tool for teachers to promote student questioning are the de Bono thinking hats. Comprising of 6 coloured hats, the theory behind them is to encourage different student thinking - Blue - Process, White– Facts, Green– Creativity, Yellow - Benefits, and Black – Cautions.

In the Science – Modelling Light video, the teacher displayed effective questioning throughout the video. In the recap of the previous lesson, the teacher, when questioning, gave students some key words but not the answer enabling the students to reflect with their own understanding. Other examples of effective questioning displayed were: Closed: Can you see behind the mirrors? Can you see round corners with the mirror? Open: How do you think this happens?" Appropriate questioning is included throughout the attachment, appendix one, with both open and closed questioning. Closed: Could you see the objects in the Kaleidoscope before facing it towards the light? Did the reflections in the student kaleidoscopes look similar to those in the you tube video? Open: Why? Why Not? What do you think the image will look like? Can you describe what you saw when you looked in the Kaleidoscope?

Another teacher centred mode of delivery is Direct Instruction or Explicit Teaching. Most efficiently used for basic skills such as reading and mathematics, it helps students learn in a step by step process. (Marsh, 2010, p. 209) Researchers have compiled some key elements for effective teacher directed instruction: strong direction and control; emphasis is on academic learning; positive individual expectations and academic progress; student cooperation and accountability; non-negative - assurance of learners confidence and sense belonging and security; and the teacher must also establish and implement a structure (class rules). (Murphy, et al, 1986) The teacher must ensure the lesson covers the level of all student skills and knowledge.

Conclusion:

This essay has described the importance of effective lessons, behaviour management, classroom environment, positive and inclusive learning environments, and a selection of teaching characteristics. There are many other characteristics equally important to be an effective teacher. Each characteristic meshes with the other, and if one aspect of the delivery is not group appropriate, students will not achieve their maximum learning potential and therefore effective teaching will not result. Effective teaching requires flexibility and continual re-evaluation of lesson delivery methods. A lesson plan developed on one strand for one group of students will not necessarily be as effective delivered to another group of students. Teachers proficient in these characteristics will be effective educators and will have increased success in the delivery of effective student learning.