Sunday, 11 September 2011

Defining learning and teaching to promote teacher effectiveness

What are the characteristics of an effective teacher in terms of student learning and teaching? In the previous post I defined the general characteristics of an effective teacher in an effort to move away from an evaluation made purely on student test results. 
Teaching is the central teacher activity, so what constitutes good teaching and learning?
At this school we defined it as a set of Learning and Teaching Principles. We had help - trainer Ruth Sutton helped us think about this and eventually we came up with five principles. It is interesting to note that our starting list was very different to the one we ended up with and it is likely that another school would emphasise different ideas. Here is the first of our final version: 
Principle One: The learning environment is prepared and organised so as to support effective learning and teaching and be conducive to different learning and teaching styles.
In order to be clearer about what this means, several supporting statements are added. We used the term indicators to start with but some were clearly not so we ended up with the term supporting statements. What is missing? If you were to do this exercise in your school, what would you have added, or indeed, taken out?

Supporting Statements
a.     The school recognises the importance of providing classrooms with acceptable temperature, humidity and noise levels so as to allow effective teaching and learning to take place.
b.     Emergency exits and evacuation details are clearly displayed and necessary safety equipment used and / or be available for use in the event of an emergency
c.     The physical environment of the classroom is well organised and appropriate to the age of the students, so that students feel welcome, safe and comfortable.
d.     Classroom furniture, space and resources is arranged so as to optimise learning and allow for a range of learning activities
e.     Teachers use wall space creatively, inside and outside the classroom, as a learning tool to display student work and other materials so as to celebrate achievement and motivate students. (See Display Policy).
f.      Expectations of behaviour, understanding of rights and responsibilities, routines and acceptable ways of working are clear and applied consistently by all throughout the school and not just in classrooms (See Behaviour Management Policy)
g.     Teachers recognise the importance of having high expectations, using positive feedback to reward appropriate behaviour and establishing a classroom environment based on mutual respect.
h.     Students show respect for the school environment, leaving classrooms tidy, not dropping litter, using recycling bins whenever possible, keeping their notice boards up to date and their personal spaces clean and tidy.
i.      The wider school environment fosters in students the sense of self-worth and the sense of belonging to a learning community, through academic, cultural, sporting and other events.
j.      Participation in Student Council, intertribal events, Team Sports and extra curricular activities are encouraged and opportunities are provided for students to participate in activities which help them develop their self esteem and their full potential in a wide range of areas.
k.      Parents are well informed on ways of supporting their children’s learning through, information, newsletters, community activities, workshops, formal school reports and information on any issues relevant to their individual child.

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