Best Teaching Practices

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Best teaching practices are core to a student centered classroom. The classrooms with an ideal learning environment are the ones that use research based teaching methods that get results.

A student-centered classroom has an environment that includes culturally responsive teaching to reach ELL/ESOL populations.

It also takes into account differences in learning styles, home situations kids are coming from and is a place where teachers take direct responsibility for each child's academic growth.

But even with all of these variables, there remains certain factors that are consistent and bring marked results every time.

best teaching practices

What are these teaching methods that work?  And is there a common denominator that is consistently found in ideal learning environments?

The key to both of these questions is found in evidence based teaching.

What is Evidence-Based Teaching?

Evidence-based teaching (EBT) is a phenomenon that developed in the realm of clinical psychology. The "evidence-based" portion of EBT comes from the fact that different teaching techniques have been thoroughly tested, retested, and approved.

Realistically, we also know that there are many things we do in the classroom everyday that can't be quantified, yet are good for kids. However, those strategies shouldn't trump ones that have solid research behind them (note the word "solid" - there is research for everything but a lot of it is flimsy at best).

Effective teaching will produce measurable results. This means we must develop baseline data and progress monitor what we do.

If you want to develop better reading skills, you are going to use methods that have been tested over time for what we know about how kids learn to read.

If you are using technology in the classroom, are you measuring the effectiveness of it or is it a filler that isn't helping your students grow?

The best teaching practices are the ones that use evidence based instruction. With evidence based teaching, students do more thinking about the material and begin to incorporate it into their own lives.   This is engaging their long-term memory in the executive function.

As well, students tested under EBT conditions, when compared to more traditional methods, such as lecturing have been found to perform significantly better on exams (Teaching and Learning Excellence - 2009).

Best Teaching Practices for Learning Centered Environments

Practice inter-teaching (Boyce & Hineline, 2002)
With inter-teaching, the instructor creates a preparation sheet that will guide students through a reading assignment. Students are given a few days to complete the guide before class, where they will work in pairs to discuss any assignment-related concerns.

During discussion time, the teacher guides discussion and answers any lingering questions students may have. After the guide is completed, students will then complete a record sheet to evaluate their discussions and note any difficulties they had during the process.

These record sheets will be used by the teacher to prepare the next class's lecture, which will focus on students' main concerns. After this lecture, students will spend the rest of the class period discussing the next preparation guide. (Evidence-Based Best Teaching Practices Guidelines).

Have students read silently
Students who engage in daily silent reading show a 75% recall versus only a 50% recall for students who read aloud. (Choosing Evidence Based Teaching Strategies). Many students simply do not have ample time to do this at home.

However, it is not just setting aside time for them to read. The teacher should rotate around the room, ask students questions about what they are reading and have short mini-conferences to address strategies and assess learning.

Allow peer encouragement
With Class Wide Peer Tutoring (CWPT), students pair up. Partners take turns tutoring each other on spelling, math, and ask each other questions about a recited passage.

For each correct answer, the tutee receives two points. For incorrect answers, the tutor corrects his or her partner, and the tutee can earn a point by writing the correct answer three times. After some time, the partners switch roles and students end the day by feeling supported and successful. (Class Wide Peer Tutoring Program).

Understanding Classroom Management
Best teaching practices also include the effective use of classroom procedures and routines. When students know what is expected of them, both behaviorally and academically, they will perform at a higher quality. The need for explicit procedures in a classroom is key to best practices.

Promote peer bonding
For evidence based teaching to be effective, all students must have an open mind. The Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP) teaches children healthy conflict resolution skills and prevents violence and prejudice.

To make your classroom conducive to this practice, you will need to teach your students about different forms of cultural diversity and recruit students as peer mediators (Resolving Conflict Creatively Program).

Give explicit vocabulary instruction
Use activities for teaching vocabulary not only in reading and language arts classes, but also in other subjects like science and social studies.

Using evidence based strategies for teaching vocabulary makes Tier 2 and 3 academic vocabulary words more accessible for all students, thereby increasing their comprehension and word usage.

Integrating the use of unknown vocabulary in your lessons will help students make meaning of new words and construct meaning of unfamiliar texts on their own (Adolescent Literacy 101).

Having a deep knowledge of how learning occurs will only make us better teachers who take full responsibility for how our students perform - without looking to place blame on outside forces we cannot control. 

These are truly the best practices in teaching.

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