Instructional Practices

I was to answer some questions around instructional practices.

How do you typically instruct your students? other learners (e.g. teachers)? Have your instructional practices changed over the years? Why or why not? And if so, in what ways?​​

My instruction has drastically changed over time.  Thinking back to my first couple years of teaching and how I instructed and led my classroom does not compare to what I do today.  I still believe in traditional direct instruction and that you have to explain new concepts to students, sometimes multiple times before they understand it.  Asking a student to complete a project or assignment about economic or political systems does very little good if that students does not have background knowledge to draw and to use to critical assess material that he/she is reading or watching.  My classes typically involve direct instruction with concrete real world examples, followed by class discussion or debate both formally and informally and usually time to work on a project or assignment designed to enhance learning and I will often try to tie some technology integration into this part of my instruction.  

Technology integration has to be purposeful and meaningful.  I am lucky to be able to run a 1:1 paperless class which I have done for the last five years.  I learnt quickly that paperless is not necessarily the best for everyone and that some tasks may need to be differentiated to fit the needs of everyone.  My level of technology integration has changed a lot over the years and continues to so each year. Creating a movie, youtube video, green screen project have taken the place of posters and more traditional assignments in my classes.  

What research do you use to support your instructional practices? What evidence do you have that indicates that your instructional practices help students achieve and be successful?

When looking for ideas and strategies to help support my instructional strategies i look to both print and online sources.  I read constantly and gather numerous ideas and strategies from various authors. Most recently I have read books by Daniel Pink, Sir Ken Robinson, Simon Sinek, Leonard Sax, George Couros to name a few.  While they may not all be about direct classroom instruction the ideas of dealing with and getting the most out of people and changing the way students or people see things helps me better prepare and plan for the individuals in my classroom.  I also believe in being a connected leader and use social media platform such as Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to help me move forward as an educator and leader.

What work do we have to do as instructional leaders in this area to ensure that students are receiving the best instructional practices in our buildings/districts?

One of my rules when I talk to my teachers throughout the year is that I want the students in your class to enjoy coming to school and be excited to be here.  If we can accomplish this one task, just about all other problems will figure themselves out. Relationship are the key to making this happen. Building and fostering positive, healthy relationships with students allows those students freedom.  Freedom to try and fail, freedom to express themselves, freedom to reach for what may seem impossible and freedom to become the best person they can be.

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4 thoughts on “Instructional Practices

  1. I have really appreciated your reading recommendations as we have been in the Masters program. I love to read, research, and continually learn, and like yourself, I have seen my teaching/instructional style develop over time. I also agree that developing and fostering relationships with our students (and staff) will help in creating a classroom (and school) culture that will help everyone succeed. We need both the knowledge and the relationships to be effective teachers and instructional leaders.

  2. I agree with your comments about differentiating for your students and although you tried a paperless classroom, some of the kids can get their best work done on paper instead of a computer. Teaching is never black and white- it is shades of grey. Students definitely need the knowledge to make sense of it and be able to apply it. It sounds like you do some very interesting and creative assignments to deepen their understanding. What are your thoughts about giving zeros?

  3. Terry, I appreciate your recognition that direct instruction can be the best method for creating the base of information that students will need in order to be successful on projects and alternate methods of demonstrating understanding. There was a time that I felt it was necessary to limit my direct instruction but discovered that students had significant gaps in foundational knowledge as a result.

    I agree that technology must also be purposeful … not a replacement for paper/pencil tasks but creating engaging and collaborative activities that develop deeper thinking.

  4. Terry, I agree that the best thing a teacher can provide for their students is the desire to come to school every day and enjoy the learning that is taking place. I remember hearing a student’s testimonial once of them having to miss a day of school in their younger grades and hating the fact that they’d miss out! Imagine if that thinking was universal…what would that look like??

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