Research, Practice and the General Principles of Effective Teaching

In this chapter, it was interesting to read through the different research examples to see which worked well and which did not have a positive outcome. Thomas L. Good (2010) focuses on several key points over the last forty years of his research in teaching. I particularly found the “Kounin Framework” (p. 39) to be helpful for me because it encourages teachers to focus on acknowledging student behavior or “withitness” (p. 38) as the text described. In my teaching experience so far, my first class of thirty-three junior high students overwhelmed me a bit. I usually had most of their energetic attention and acknowledged good behavior. However, I found that I had a difficult time also holding the attention of a few kids in the back of the classroom. The attentive students were alerted to what I was keeping them accountable to, displayed that they understood the subject matter, and so I moved on. Good (2010) describes how a teacher can misuse the “Kounin Framework” (p. 39) by saying that “if the same students are always called on at transition points, it might convey ‘If you understand, we can move on’” (p. 39). Realizing this, I should have made the few students in the back accountable as well, but I feared losing the rest of the class. In the future, I hope to engage in student learning through using the Kounin model effectively for the entire class.

I think that the “General Principles of Effective Teaching” (Good, 2010, p. 41) are extremely helpful guidelines for becoming an effective teacher. I felt it was important how Jere Brophy (2008) explained that focus needs to be placed on “learning” rather than “knowing” the wrong and right answers (p. 41). As a teacher this past year, I found that students were much more highly motivated to do well on assignments when I placed the focus on learning.  The students realized that although grades are important, it was even more important to take the information outside of the classroom and apply it to their lives.  This was probably an easier idea to plant in their hearts for me because I was teaching a Christian worldview/life skills class. As I teach different subjects, it will be a challenge to persuade students to apply their learning beyond simply “knowing”.

I also took note of Jere Brophy’s (2008) suggestion to set curriculum goals (p. 42). I believe that this takes more effort and planning from the teacher, but is well worth the outcome. When students understand the goals that they are set to reach, it is communicated to them that they have expectations to reach. Through these goals, the teacher is enabling students to reach their full potential. Brophy (2008) also pointed out the need for goal-oriented assessments that focus on the overall curriculum goals (p. 42). Students can’t always see the big picture, and so I ask the question how can teachers show students that their day-to-day activities are important? I see students putting extra focus on tests and large papers, yet forgetting to put effort in daily classroom learning.

After reading this chapter, I better understand the tug and pull that exists between teachers and the reforms that they are asked to accept. Since the state government has so much power and authority to make a positive impact on education, I wonder why it seems that they are not using teachers as resources? Why aren’t policy makers asking teachers where the problems are and working together to make a better educational system?

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5 thoughts on “Research, Practice and the General Principles of Effective Teaching

  1. I have always felt that it is more important to learn than to know the right answer. I like to give the example of someone who is learning how to ski. Knowing the right answer can be likened to a new skier who never falls once during the day. What we don’t know is if the new skier spent the entire day on the bunny hill hardly moving. This skier would not have actually learned much. Where as someone who fell all day long, tried new techniques, and new terrain, ultimately learning all day long. The process of temporary failures is crucial to continual learning.

  2. Hi Joanna,

    Your last question makes me think of Good’s remarks on relationships between teachers and teacher educators, and the tension there. He says teachers usually lean towards teacher centered education, and teacher educators do not, and discusses teacher’s resistance to reform (sometimes being reasonable ones). Good pg. 49. Still, you would think they could work together!

  3. The thought of leading out a school year with clear curriculum goals is a new idea to me, but something I think will be incredibly valuable as a teacher! Like you said, when students are made aware that their teacher has expectations of them, the students will rise to the challenge. The teacher who hides his or her ambition for the students is actually doing them a disservice. By letting them in on his or her curricular intentions, the students know that the teacher believes in them, confident that they will grow throughout the year.

  4. I appreciated how, in your last paragraph, you called attention to the point that teachers have been criticized for not creating results, but they have not been adequately supported. It’s a bit like accusing a student of laziness when they fail to complete an assignment they weren’t adequately taught how to complete.

    Perhaps governments and the public have focused on holding teachers accountable because it’s easy, whereas actually providing meaningful support to teachers is difficult

  5. It appears that this initial chapter provided some new ideas for you to consider in your own classroom setting. I look forward to reading more about your development as a teacher as the internship progresses.

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