Thursday, November 14, 2019

Four Foundations Top Ten Habits #10

Last on the 'top ten' list of habits of great teaching is #10:

"I make it a habit to be clear about expectations for transitions and other routines."

Creating a classroom culture that is both supportive and predictable is a priority for excellent teachers. Great teachers take the time to think through in advance, and clearly communicate to students, the expectations for movements between activities, actions, and daily routines. 

Emphasis on clarity of routines, and even practice of the routines, early in the school year is a characteristic of well-managed classrooms. The goal is to create a classroom where the focus is on learning and where that very precious resource--time--is used most effectively. 

Some characteristics of effective classrooms: 
-Students are ready when the lesson starts 
-Quick transitions 
-Routines are completed independently without distracting other students 
-Succinct, consistent instructions 

Some characteristics of less effective classrooms: 
-Students are dependent on the teacher for repeated routines 
-The teacher often reminds 
-Teaching without attention 
-'What do I do now?’ is heard frequently in the classroom from students   

Here again are the Four Foundations Top Ten Habits: 

I make it a habit to...
...plan unit and daily lesson learning targets before planning activities

...write clear, student-learning-focused learning targets

...share the learning targets with students

...plan frequent formative assessments to check for understanding during lessons sure that formative assessments are involuntary and all-inclusive

...give frequent feedback to students that is specific and descriptive

...plan activities that require full involvement of all students

...use models of strong and weak work frequently

...make sure that students talk more than I do clear about expectations for transitions and other routines

For more on the 'Four Foundations', see The Four Foundations of Great Teaching booklet. 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Four Foundations Top Ten Habits #9

Next on the 'top ten' of great teaching is #9:

"I make it a habit to make sure that students talk more than I do."

It's important for teachers to make sure that students are doing most of the thinking and the talking in class. Teachers who talk too much, or who tell rather than ask, short-change their students. Great teachers pay attention to the ratio of teacher to student talk. Instead of merely telling, great teachers use a variety of strategies to deepen student thinking and to require student talk. Cold call, follow-up questions, open-ended questions, and asking for student summaries are some ways to do this. Great teachers employ wait time effectively.

John Milton Gregory, in The Seven Laws of Teaching, writes about the law of the teaching process:

"Excite and direct the self-activities of the learner, and tell him nothings that he can learn himself."

"It is only the unskillful and self-seeking teacher who prefers to hear his own voice in endless talk, rather than watch the working of his pupil's thoughts."

"Questioning is not, therefore, merely one of the modes of teaching, it is the whole of teaching..."

Teachers should form the habit of making sure that students do the 'heavy lifting' in class. Students, and not teachers, should do most of the thinking and the talking. As Gregory writes, "...the true and only function of a teacher is to stimulate and help the learner to do what he might otherwise do by himself and without a teacher."