10 things that effective teachers do- Do you?

Sometimes it is just worth reflecting on our personal skills and looking at where our strengths and weaknesses are. After many years of teaching some skills will have been more developed, whilst others that are used less widely may need more work on.

For me I start with this list that I picked up somewhere from the internet when I started in Management many moons ago. NB. Way down the list is questioning, if you need more help with this see the last blog. For me this list was a starting point not only for me, but for the team or teams I was leading. Not only did I as a manager needs these skills, but also the team needed the same strengths, and being able to review and see our weaknesses objectively made it easier. For example,  when observing lessons  it gave us all a focus that we were all comfortable with. We all recognised we were good teachers but wanted to do better, so were honing skills. This meant the threat and fear went away, this was crucial in schools needing support as too often one criticism or constructive comment can lead to low self-esteem and the fear of being a  failing teacher rather than building more strengths.

10 things that effective teachers do.

Deep Knowledge of Subject Matter
Effective teachers have a passion for their subject. They work hard to keep their knowledge current and sharp.

Instructional Planning
Good teachers do not “wing it.” They prepare lessons carefully and thoroughly to ensure all students meet their targets.

Knowledge of Assessment and Evaluation
Effective teachers plan the ways in which they will judge students’ progress and they do so throughout the lesson, adjusting their teaching in the light of what they learn from the assessments.

Understanding Students and How They Learn
Effective teachers believe that every child can learn. They work hard to identify ways of overcoming any barriers to learning so that all students are successful.

Motivating Students to Learn
Effective teachers create learning opportunities through hands-on work, small group activities, peer-to-peer coaching, and individually guided instruction. Good teachers make learning engaging by making lessons interesting and relevant.

Creating Safe, Productive and Well-Managed Classrooms
Effective teachers understand that firm discipline policies contribute to a healthy academic atmosphere by emphasizing the importance of regular attendance, promptness, respect for teachers and other students, and good conduct. Good teachers understand that students respond to consistency, fairness, and structure.

Technological Literacy
Good teachers understand that technology is a tool for increasing student interest, motivation, and achievement.

Understanding and Appreciating Diversity
Effective teachers clearly communicate their expectation that all children can and will achieve to the best of their ability. Good teachers demonstrate zero tolerance for discrimination, bigotry, bullying, or harassment. They promote tolerance, curiosity, and respect for other genders, races, and cultures.

Working with the whole child
Effective teachers make efforts to know their students individually and to build openness and bridges between homes and classrooms. Good teachers create multiple channels for communications with parents and the community members. They try to see the “whole child” and provide extra help, referrals, and assistance for children facing challenges out-of-school.

Commitment to Lifelong Learning and Professional Development
Effective teachers are always growing and learning. They share successes and challenges with other teachers and see themselves not as an “expert” but part of a community of lifelong learners.

Encouraging student talk

Effective teachers plan opportunities for students to embed their learning through talk, to one another and to the teacher. In their classrooms, students talk more than the teacher!

Effective questions

Effective teacher organise their lessons so that students, rather than the teacher, generate questions that help to clarify and extend learning

Reading Guidance

Following on from the last blog about reading.  I thought about the types of questions I would ask my EAL readers, or indeed other readers, about the books they have read. Most questions need to be open questions otherwise the reader doesnt have the opportunity to tell you what they gained from the book. There is nothing worse than 30 replies of my book was …… written by ….. I liked it …..because and then the reason doesnt really show you what they have enjoyed, liked etc.  This set of questions is just here to help you stretch them and give you some ideas. If you have further suggestions please add to the comments.

After starting off with finding out the name of the book and author, find out what the book was generally about and if they have been taught about genres what genre/style is it e.g. mystery. If they have been on an end of term break you could ask where they read the book, in bed, outside on the grass, on the beach etc.

Then to encourage further discussion

  • How different was it to how you thought it would be before you read it? … some choose books from pictures on the front and then find the story doesn’t match at all.
  • Was the cover a good cover to let you know what the story was about?
  • For more advanced readers was the book  as good as the back cover details led you to believe?
  • Did you want to read it right to the end ….if not what made them feel this way but what kept them going if they did… I was given the Water Babies by Charles Kingsley as a child after an operation in hospital.  I couldn’t read it then and havent been too since as it all seems to far-fetched, although I have tried many times I get as far as the chimney sweeps and that’s it .
  • What was your favourite part of the book?  This may be a line, a character, a part of the story try to draw out as much information as possible.
  • Is it like a story or stories you have read before? …..maybe they have read a similar series or style
  • What caught your attention? …we often tell them that the first line must when writing, but it is not necessarily the same when reading ?  It may have been something much further through the book.
  • Which bits didn’t you like? ….this gives you further ideas of the types of books they may enjoy and ones to start to drop.
  • What was your favourite character? Why
  • What character didn’t you like? Why
  • Did you read the bits you didn’t like? …… If it is gory I don’t.
  • Did it remind you of a celebration you celebrate ?(i.e.)This may help draw out something about their cultural background
  • What was different about this book … if it’s a series has one of the characters shown a different side to their character, is the adventure in a different land which is different to either this country or the previous country they lived in?
  • Would you read books from this author again?  Why/Why not ….I did love Enid Blyton and the adventures of the characters, probably why I like Agatha Christie’s Poirot in adult life.
  • What made you think about the book now you have finished it … they may have liked it so much they want to read more or it was so awful they don’t want to read similar stories again.  My daughter was sent home from school with the book ‘There a monster under my bed’. We duly helped her read it but at 20 we all still remember the nightmares it gave her because it made her think there may be something under the bed?

Further ideas

  • Take the first line of the book and create a whole new paragraph for a new story
  • Take their favourite line and use it to create a mini story
  • Take their favourite character and write a character profile
  • Reset the story in another setting e.g. if they come from or speak Chinese set in China what differences would that make to the story?
  • If they were the author show the changes they would make to make it better… this could be as simple as a new title or more in-depth by adding a new character.

For older children or more advanced readers

  •  Take a children’s author e.g. Enid Blyton and compare with a  similar Adult author e.g. Agatha Christie and look at the similarities in the plot , characters, locations etc.
  • Write a short synopsis to replace the information o the back cover of the book
  • Find out the authors history and work out what aspects of this are within their work e.g. location, if they worked in a tax office maybe the story is set within this industry etc.

Literacy EAL – Reading Guide

Reading allows us to be active and think about what the person has written. We then have to decode the words and sentences to make sure that we have understood what the writer intended.

Straight away you can see that the EAL learner needs to have the following skills to:

  1. read the words correctly
  2. understand the construction of the sentence
  3. interpret what that string of words in that formation means to the rest of the population
  4. create an accurate picture of what that means where description is used to describe a situation, object or feeling

We are asking a lot of a monolingual but for a bilingual or multilingual child this becomes more difficult.

Add this to the four types of knowledge that the reader needs:

  1. Phonic  awareness (what each letter sounds like)
  2. Grammatical knowledge (Knowledge of sentence structure and the symbols we use to demonstrate this… such as !, ?, ” “)
  3. Knowledge of context (know about the culture, world especially of the area where they are learning, and topic)
  4. Word recognition and graphic knowledge (what the sounds look like when in written form)

In real life in the classroom this can be presented as:

  1. Difficulty decoding words
  2. Not understanding the vocabulary
  3. Confusion of words
  4. Not understanding something, for example, that the writing may be a joke or irony
  5. Having no background cultural information so it may be difficult to reach the true meaning easily.

Read for Meaning

In order to support this in the classroom if we can encourage reading for meaning that will encourage the EAL reader to take a risk by guessing a meaning to make accessing the text easier. If the book needs cultural background, input this knowledge beforehand as a precursor to allow even greater understanding when the reader eventually reads the book.

Pre-Teach

Support this further by pre-teaching any sentences with an idiom included such as if the book refers to a senior moment – pre teach the learner that this means a memory lapse or a momentary confusion in someone who is no longer young is a senior moment.

More idioms

lose heart

Make the grade

Step up a gear

It’s raining cats and dogs.

Finally look at the reading environment

  1. Have bilingual books in the target language to support both the learning language and continue to support their first language
  2. Have a resource box with texts at different challenge levels and interests
  3. Where possible increase the versions available by having a simplified version.
  4. Ensure access to dictionaries or translation software to develop their language acquisition.

Have you any good examples you would like to share with us?