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The Essential Characteristics of Effective Teaching

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There is no doubt that teachers play a critical part in a student’s school experience and learning. Teachers, who have the ability to motivate, encourage and understand their students and their individual circumstances can provide a positive school experience, and can contribute to student’s success in later life. Student’s present teachers with a wide range of knowledge and skills, this provides a significant challenge to teachers as they need to ensure that all students regardless of their learning ability are provided with knowledge and skills to progress both academically and socially. In order to achieve this, teachers must incorporate certain characteristics into their teaching methods such as planning, knowledge, evaluation and constructivism to become effective. 1.0- Knowledge

Effective teaching require the teachers possess a great deal of knowledge covering a variety of items, knowledge is an essential characteristic of effective teaching; knowledge incorporates not only knowledge of the curriculum and your students but knowledge of your school, knowledge of the school’s community and knowledge of one’s self as a teacher. An effective teacher is able to pass this knowledge on to their students and use this knowledge to create a more effective learning community. 1.1- Knowledge of community

Having knowledge of the schools local community will greatly enhance the teacher’s knowledge of their students and their students’ lives outside of the school as most schools are zoned therefore the students attending that school are likely to be from the suburb in which the school is situated in. Knowing the school’s local community can give the teacher a greater understanding of the student’s social and economic background. Many primary school students participate in local after school activities within the community, having knowledge of this can be used to benefit the students learning, by knowing the student’s and the school’s local community the teacher will be able to design a lesson that students from that area will easily understand and will benefit them. “The community in which the school is situated will give you a wealth of knowledge that will inform your practices in the classroom.” (D. Whitton, K. Barker, Nosworthy, C. Sinclair, P. Nanlohy, 2010, pg. 136). 1.2- Knowledge of school

An effective teacher will also have knowledge of their school, having knowledge of the school in which they teach is crucial to understand what resources are readily available for the students use, having knowledge about the school will also give the teacher knowledge on the rules and guidelines which students must follow. “The most important part of the teaching and learning cycle is the level of knowledge the teacher has of the school.” (Whitton et al., 2010, pg. 136). 1.3- Knowledge of curriculum

For a teacher to be effective it is imperative that they possess knowledge of the curriculum. The teacher must understand the guidelines outlined by ACARA so that the teacher can inform their students accurately. ACARA provides teachers with outlined descriptors that must be completed by each year level for each subject covered in that year, e.g. “Solve problems involving multiplication of large numbers by one- or two-digit numbers using efficient mental, written strategies and appropriate digital technologies” (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2012) having knowledge of this is also essential for lesson planning and evaluating. 2.0- Planning

Effective teaching requires a great deal of planning and organisation. It is important for the teacher to have each lesson planned out before entering the classroom so that the students are able to get the most out of the lesson and the predetermined goals for the lesson are achieved. Planning is probably the most essential characteristic of effective teaching, when planning each lesson the following areas need to be addressed, content, objective, resources, timing and teaching strategies but it is also extremely important that the teacher covers the 5e’s outlined by (Whitton et al., 2010, pg. 138).

Engage- The teacher needs to get the students motivated and excited for the lesson. Explore- The teacher should investigate new areas of learning and get the students active in their personal learning. Explain- The teacher should explain what is to be learnt. Elaborate- The teacher should elaborate so that the students can make connections to previous learning and show the relevance of the current learning and lastly evaluate- The teacher needs to determine which students understood the lesson; the teacher should evaluate their teaching methods against the level of students that learnt from the teaching and evaluate the suitability of the content. 2.1- Content

An effective teacher will cover content for the lesson that is both informative and helpful, when planning the lesson the teacher must consider what descriptors have been set out by ACARA and explain the lesson in a way that the students absorb the information. The content which the teacher covers is extremely important for the students learning and evaluation, teachers need to cover certain content to keep their students on par with students in the same year level all around Australia. There are four levels of content these are the curriculum area that the lesson is based on, the particular strand within that curriculum area, and the specific topic for the lesson and the actual content of the lesson (Whitton et al., 2010, pg. 155) 2.2- Objective

When creating a new lesson an effective teacher has a clear objective that they want to achieve by the lesson. The objective is the focus point of the lesson plan and is determined by what content is being taught. An effective teacher also understands that “for a lesson to relate to a class, you need to consider that for different levels of ability different objectives should be written” (Whitton et al., 2010, pg. 156) When creating learning objectives it may be best to start with what learning objectives aren’t as they aren’t simply a list of the topics to be covered in the course this certainly is important as there will be a body of knowledge that students should know and understand by the time the lesson is complete. But if the goals for what students should achieve stop there, then teachers may miss opportunities for providing students with a more productive learning experience.

Learning objective should describe what students should know or be able to do at the end of the course that they couldn’t do before, learning objectives should be about student performance, good learning objectives shouldn’t be too vague (“the students will understand what good maths is”); they shouldn’t be too narrow (“the students will know what a number is”); or be restricted to lower-level cognitive skills (“the students will be able to name the countries in Europe.”). Each individual learning objective should support the overarching goal of the lesson, that is, the thread that unites all the topics that will be covered and all the skills students should have grasped by the end of the school term/ year. An effective teacher is able to determine all these goals and objectives and plan the lesson accordingly. 2.3- Timing

The timing of the lesson is a really important component when planning because the teacher must stay within the allocated time for the lesson. When allocating time the teacher should consider not only what day of the week the lesson is being taught but what time of the day the lesson is taking place and the breakdown within the lesson for each activity. E.g. There is a 60 minute mathematic lesson taking place on the 10th of October 2010 at 1.00pm, the lesson is then broken down into 10 minutes for motivation and recapping on the previous lesson and 50 minutes for the body of the lesson (15 minutes for introducing and explaining the new method, 15 minutes for the students to complete their worksheets, 10 minutes to go through the answers and 10 minutes for a quick game of multiplication buzz). –Please refer appendix one. 2.4- Teaching strategies

There are a variety of teaching strategies that teachers can use to improve student learning. Effective teaching allows students with varied ability to learn, by using different teaching strategies teachers give every student a chance to be involved and progress. Teachers can use teaching strategies to not only pass on knowledge but to motivate, build confidence and help can help teachers find out there students individual learning needs. Some examples of teaching strategies are splitting the class into ability groups which is done by Mrs Whitehouse in the following video (http://www.schoolsworld.tv/node/2051?terms=644) Active learning- Active learning is activities that students do in the classroom other than only listening to the teachers lesson. Discussion Strategies- Involving students in a discussion increases their learning, motivation and confidence by pushing them to develop their own opinions.

“A good environment for communication is the first step in encouraging students to talk”. (Merlot Pedagogy, 2012) Another great teaching strategy is role play- Learning activities that require students to act a part are called ‘performanceactivities’ these can be formal, structured or free flowing. “Role play engages students in  activities that bring realism to their learning” (R. Killen, 2009, pg. 429). “Effective learning takes place when teachers challenge students with problems that are beyond their existing level of experience and facilitate the process of finding the solution to such problem.” (Vincent & Shepherd, 1998:2). 3.0- Evaluation

Effective teaching requires a great deal of evaluation. Evaluation within the teaching process can be broken down into three parts, evaluating the students, evaluating the curriculum information and evaluating the teaching. When evaluating the students an effective teacher evaluates the students understanding of the curriculum, their ability when applying the content covered by the curriculum and their ability to work not only as an individual but as part of a group. When effective teacher evaluates the curriculum content they access the suitability of the information and reflect on if the resources complement the content. But most importantly effective teaching requires the teacher to be able to accurately evaluate their teaching methods and ask themselves questions like was the lesson paced/ timed effectively? Was the language used at every student’s level? Were the teaching strategies used appropriate for the content being taught? “The process of teaching and learning is a cycle because the evaluation of each lesson taught gives the teacher knowledge to restart or continue the planning process” (Whitton et al., 2010, pg. 141) 4.0- Constructivism

An essential characteristic of effective teaching is constructivism; constructivism is when the teacher links the students learning to personal experience and the teacher applying that knowledge create a new understanding. “Constructivism is currently the dominant approach to learning in Australia and is in use in various forms in most schools today.” (T. Fetherston ,2007). Students construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world and their surroundings, through experiencing and then reflecting on those experiences. When students come across something new, they have to merge it with their previous ideas and understandings, sometimes changing what they believe and sometimes deciding that the new information is irrelevant. In any case, students are the creators of their own knowledge so to do this, teachers must ask questions, explore, and evaluate what they know. In the classroom, the constructivist view of learning can lead towards numerous and varied teaching practices.

An effective constructivist teacher gets students to use active learning techniques like experiments and real-world problem solving to produce more knowledge and then reflect on it and talk about what they are doing and how their understanding is changing. An effective teacher makes sure she understands the students pre-existing ideas, and guides the activity to cover them and then build on them. “Constructivism is generally about each student appropriating and constructing his or her own knowledge.” (T. Fetherston ,2007). Effective teaching require the teacher to be able to take on new ideas and learning concepts such a constructivism in teaching and uses these concepts to create a more effective learning environment for their students. Effective teaching requires teachers to have knowledge, planning skills and evaluating abilities. Teaching is an extremely important job and it is vital that teachers are able to execute these essential teaching characteristics towards the students learning.

Rationale: All of the times tables are learnt throughout primary school.Goal: Students will be able to complete a variety of multiplication sums no matter the unit value using a range of methods.Students will be able to determine which method they find easiest to use and will be able to use this method with their multiplication in future.| Learning area links as per Australian Curriculum |

* Identify and describe factors and multiples of whole numbers and use them to solve problems * Use estimation and rounding to check the reasonableness of answers to calculation * Solve problems involving multiplication of large numbers by one- or two-digit numbers using efficient mental, written strategies and appropriate digital technologies * Use efficient mental and written strategies and apply appropriate digital technologies to solve problems| Children’s prior knowledge/experience

Children have learnt addition and subtractionChildren have learnt the multiplication using the grid methodChildren have learnt partitioning numbersChildren have learnt place valueChildren have learnt ignoring the zero


At the end of the lesson the children will be able to: Accurately use the grid method to answer multiplication sums and have a basic understanding on using the two digit by two digit method to answer multiplication sums.| Preparation / Resources |

WhiteboardWriting equipmentRulerGrid bookExample sums

Introduction/Motivation 10 Minutes| Quick recap on previous methods taught and do a quick review on using the grid method.Ask individual students to explain step by step how to execute the grid method.Get students to pair up and give each other one sum which they must complete using the grid method.| Main Body of the lesson 50 Minutes| Draw on the whiteboard an example of the two digit by two digit method.Break down the example and show the students how the method works. * Extend sum to tenth unit x tenth unit, asking children to estimate first * Start with the grid method, the amounts in each row is added and then the two sums at the end of each row are added to find the overall total. * As in the grid method for tenth unit x unit, the first column can become an extra top row as a stepping stone. * Reduce the sum- showing the links to the grid method. * See if the students can break the sum down further by mentally adding the multiplied numbers to shorten the sum.

Step 2: 56 X 27 1000120350 42 15121 Step 3: 56 X27 1120 1000+120= 1120 392 350+42= 392 1512 1 * Give the students a work sheet with a total of 5 multiplication sums to complete. While students are completing the worksheet quickly put all 5 sums on the whiteboard unanswered * Call upon 5 individual students to come up the whiteboard one by one and work out the sum on the whiteboard- get the students to tick there work if they got it right using all the correctWorking out. * Finish off the lesson with a game of multiplication buzz- A student chooses a number between 2 and 9. The first student says 1, the next student says 2, and so on. Instead of saying a multiple of the selected number, the student says “buzz.” If a player forgets to say buzz or says it at the wrong time, he or she is out. Continue until the group reaches the last multiple of the number times 9. For example, if “2” is chosen. The first students says “1,” the next student says “buzz,” the next students says “3,” the next student says “buzz,” and so on until 18 (2 x 9) is reached. Closure/ Student reflection

* Did all students achieve the objective? * What needs improvement? * Which students could use a little extra help? * Was the task to hard for certain students? * Was the task to easy for certain students? * Does this method need a follow up lesson? Assessment

* Over the shoulder observation as the students are working on their worksheet. * Walking around the classroom and asking if anyone needs help. * Make notes on who struggled with the task and who found it too easy * Mark the worksheets


Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (2012) retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/Year5
D. Whitton, K. Barker, Nosworthy, C. Sinclair, P. Nanlohy, (2010). Learning for teaching: Teaching for learning. South Melbourne: Cengage Learning. T. Fetherston (2007). Becoming an effective teacher. South Melbourne: Cengage Learning R. Killen, (2009) Effective teaching strategies: Lessons from research and practice. South Melbourne: Cengage Learning Merlot Pedagogy (2012) retrieved from- http://pedagogy.merlot.org/TeachingStrategies.html Vincent & Shepherd (1998:2) retrieved from R. Killen, (2009) Effective teaching strategies: Lessons from research and practice. South Melbourne: Cengage Learning School world TV (2012) Melcombe Primary School, Year 5, Maths retrieved from http://www.schoolsworld.tv/node/2051?terms=644

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