Assessment includes both traditional paper-and-pencil exams, such as those made up of True/False, short-answer, or multiple-choice items, and a much larger collection of procedures that teachers can use to get a fix on their students' status, including the use of portfolios to document students' evolving skills and the use of anonymous self-report inventories to measure students' attitudes or interests. Assessments also include the variety of informal techniques a teacher might use to check on the status of students' skills for the purpose of guiding instruction rather than for grade-giving, such as when a teacher periodically projects multiple-choice questions on a screen during a lesson and asks students, "on the count of three," to hold up one of four prepared index cards showing the letter of what each student believes is the correct answer. (Popham, 2009, Preface section, para. 6)
PBS Learning Media has a collection of videos on to illustrate teaching strategies in the classroom. There are also support materials with a background essay and articles on this topic in a section called "Connections."
With all this in mind, Carole Frederick Steele (2009) would add that teachers need to be adept at improvising, interpreting events in progress, testing hypotheses, demonstrating respect, showing passion for teaching and learning, and helping students understand complexity. Fortunately, she reminded us that "No teacher is likely to excel at every aspect of teaching....What experts attend to and ignore is markedly different from what beginners notice. The growth continuum ranges from initial ignorance (unaware) to comprehension (aware) to competent application (capable) to great expertise (inspired)," paralleling Bloom's taxonomy. "Lack of awareness occurs before Bloom's categories. The awareness stage is a fair match for Bloom's stage of knowledge and understanding. Teachers at the capable stage use application and analysis well. Educators who reach the inspired stage have become skilled at synthesis and evaluation in regard to their thinking about teaching and learning" (Introduction section).
Per Kratochwill (n.d., Introduction section), "Although there is no agreed-upon definition of classroom management, the framework offered by Evertson and Weinstein (2006) represents a current and widely accepted view. According to Evertson and Weinstein, classroom management has two distinct purposes: “It not only seeks to establish and sustain an orderly environment so students can engage in meaningful academic learning, it also aims to enhance student social and moral growth” (p. 4). It's more than organizing the physical space for student safety and easy access to materials. It's more than deciding how you will manage classroom procedures, instructional groups and student behavior. It means creating a classroom environment of respect and rapport, and a culture for learning (Danielson, 2007, ch. 1).
The fundamental challenges of the teaching profession are also well-articulated in Connecticut's , which includes "six domains and 46 indicators that identify the foundational skills and competencies that pertain to all teachers, regardless of the subject matter, field or age group they teach" (p. 2). They are useful for teacher preparation programs, beginning teachers, and experienced teachers. For example, among professional responsibilities, the Connecticut Department of Education (2010) indicated "Continually engaging in reflection, self-evaluation and professional development to enhance their understandings of content, pedagogical skills, resources and the impact of their actions on student learning" (p. 10). Collaboration and proactive communication with colleagues, administrators, students, and families are featured elements, as are understanding the legal rights of individuals with disabilities, and the role that race, gender, and culture might have on professional interactions with students, families, and colleagues, and ethical uses of technology.
The importance of addressing these four dimensions was made very clear in a recent query I had from an individual [let's call him Mac]seeking help for a learner in the 5th grade who was struggling to multiply decimal numbers. The learner had incorrectly calculated: 0.032 * 0.16 =0.0512. But why? Apparently the learner was taught an algorithm, but used it incorrectly. Let's examine the problem that arises in understanding if teaching is done only procedurally.
From an instructional styles perspective, Silver, Strong, and Perini (2007) noted that teachers who use mastery strategies focus on increasing students' abilities to remember and summarize. "They motivate by providing a clear sequence, speedy feedback, and a strong sense of expanding competence and measurable success." When focusing on interpersonal strategies, teachers use "teams, partnerships, and coaching" to help students better relate to the curriculum and each other. Understanding strategies help students to reason and use evidence and logic. Teachers "motivate by arousing curiosity using mysteries, problems, clues, and opportunities to analyze and debate." Self-expressive strategies highlight students' imagination and creativity. Teachers employ "imagery, metaphor, pattern, and what ifs to motivate students' drive toward individuality and originality." Finally, it's possible to use all four styles at the same time to achieve a balanced approach to learning (sec: Part One: Introduction, Figure B).
The process of differentiation is challenging for educators, as it requires developing skills to teach in a flexible manner that responds to the unique needs of learners. Often total lessons or the pace of individual lessons need to be adjusted "on-the-fly." Teacher-led group instruction is only one model of instruction. So, teachers also need to know about additional resources beyond what's in the textbook or available in print format that can be used to help learners. For example, students can also learn from each other in collaborative groups, or from virtual instructors in online settings, or by working alone using software or apps. They can get different perspectives on a topic from viewing podcasts.
Indeed, Howard Gardner has stated that multiple intelligences are not learning styles. In Gardner's view, a style or learning style "is a hypothesis of how an individual approaches the range of materials." There are two basic problems. First, "the notion of 'learning styles' is itself not coherent. Those who use this term do not define the criteria for a style, nor where styles come from, how they are recognized/assessed/exploited." Second, "When researchers have tried to identify learning styles, teach consistently with those styles, and examine outcomes, there is not persuasive evidence that the learning style analysis produces more effective outcomes than a 'one size fits all approach.' " Labeling a style (e.g., visual or auditory learner) might actually be unhelpful or inconceived. Putting a label on it does not mean the "style" fits all learning scenarios (Gardner, in Strauss, 2013).
Turning around a question. Give the answer and ask for the question. For example: 10 is a fraction of a number. What could the fraction and number be?
Effective lessons incorporate best-practice. According to Daniels and Bizar (1998, as cited in Wilcox & Wojnar, 2000), there are six methods that matter in a " best practice classroom." These are integrative units, small group activities, representing to learn through multiple ways of investigating, remembering, and applying information; a classroom workshop teacher-apprentice approach, authentic experiences, and reflective assessment. Further, Mike Schmoker (2006) stated that "the most well-established elements of good instruction [include]: being clear and explicit about what is to be learned and assessed; using assessments to evaluate a lesson's effectiveness and making constructive adjustments on the basis of results; conducting a check for understanding at certain points in a lesson; having kids read for higher-order purposes and write regularly; and clearly explicating and carefully teaching the criteria by which student work will be scored or evaluated" (p. 25). In mathematics classrooms, teachers might tend to ignore writing about the discipline; however, to develop complex knowledge, "students need opportunities to read, reason, investigate, speak, and write about the overarching concepts within that discipline" (McConachie et al., 2006, p. 8).