What does “good teaching” look like at Five Keys? This is a tough question to answer – we teach in so many different types of settings here! So before you read on, I want to offer a few disclaimers:
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1. A posted learning objective
2. A posted Agenda
Ideally, this would follow the standard instructional delivery model, which includes:
Resources: Scroll down to the bottom to download the Lesson Plan Template, Sample Lesson Plan, Do Now/Exit Ticket Ideas, Reading and Discussion Activities, and more!
3. Student-to-student interaction
In other words, discussion driven by students.
Sometimes after a classroom visit, teachers get feedback like, “Try to incorporate more time for discussion.” And the teacher will feel like, “What are they talking about? The whole class was a discussion!” What your observer probably meant was less discussion led by the teacher, more discussion led by the students.
This can be done through pair-shares, circle discussions, socratic seminars, literature circles, reciprocal teaching, and other forms of cooperative learning (a.k.a. group work).
4. Teacher circulating around room, checking in with every student, happy to be there
While you’re teaching a lesson, speak from different points of the room as you move from one point to another – the side, the back, the other side – don’t stay front and center.
While students are working, walk around, provide on-the-spot feedback, try to check in with every single student. This will not only help with classroom management but allows you to conduct an informal assessment; if you’re noticing a pattern of mistakes from student to student, you can stop the class to teach a “mini lesson” that benefits all students.
Don’t feel you have to be fake or overly enthusiastic about it, but show that you enjoy being with them. Greet students as they arrive, give lots of positive reinforcement – your enthusiasm (or lack thereof) is evident and contagious.
5. a welcoming, structured environment
We know some environments will not allow some of these things, but if you're allowed, principals want to see...
6. multi-modal instruction using multiple learning formats
Basically, present the information in more than one way, and don’t do the same thing the entire time!
Part of this goes back to the instructional delivery model reviewed in item #2 – a posted agenda. After the Do Now activity, the lesson should be chunked into smaller pieces that include some direct instruction, some small group or partner work, and some independent work.
Sometimes a concept can’t be covered in neat little boxes like that, and that’s okay. In those cases, a good rule of thumb is to change things up every 15 minutes – with a Pair-Share, a Whip Around, a Quick Write, or some other quick comprehension check where you’re turning the floor over to the students and giving them a chance to digest what they’re learning.
The other part of this, which is about presenting the information in more than one way, refers to combining visual, auditory, and kinesthetic supports. If you’re speaking, have a handout or PowerPoint; if they’re listening to or viewing something, accompany it with a worksheet to complete; if you’re reading, provide the text for them to annotate; if you’ve given them written instructions, explain it verbally, etc.
Resources: Scroll down to the bottom to download How to Get All Students to Participate, ELL/SDAIE Activities, and more!
7. all students are included, encouraged to participate, and doing something at all times
This overlaps a bit with previous points but basically, lecture and large group discussions should be limited.
A best practice is 80% student talk, 20% teacher talk.
There should be something for students to do from the moment they enter your room to the moment they leave (this is where a Do Now activity and Exit Ticket come in handy).
Another way to approach this is to offer multiple ways for students to participate, including differentiated assessments. Lesson plans and activities should consider that some students like to talk, some like to draw, some like to write, some like to live it out – and some don’t like any of those things. So what options can you create for those students? How can you make them feel safe to talk, draw, write, or act, if they’re feeling insecure? The key is to make intentional efforts to pull those students in; once they see that you’re okay with them not participating, they’ll begin to detach. We must make it clear that we fully expect everyone to participate in some way at all times, and that if they’re having trouble, we’ll find a way to make it happen.
Resources: Scroll down to the bottom to download How to Get All Students to Participate, Do Now/Exit Ticket Ideas, Classroom Discussion Activities, and more!
8. Use of restorative practices in classroom management
Remember that your class is a community. When one person is hurt, whether by someone in the community or something going on within them or outside of class, it affects everyone. Here are a few ways this can be carried out, with examples of what this might sound like.
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