Effective Teaching

Teachers, like students, are always learning and applying skills in new ways to be more effective in their unique situations. Sometimes even the best teachers do not know how or why they are successful.  This is because teaching is a set of crafts, skills, values, beliefs and practices that can be improved through time and experiences. It is through experiences that they learn to combine the best information available (knowledge, methods, practices) about teaching and learning with their prior teaching experiences.

Effective teaching and learning will help students to achieve the intended or desired educational outcomes; ie teaching that helps students to learn. These teachers have a clear understanding of how and why certain activities lead to learning, and what factors influence their effectiveness. They have the abilities to understand students goals, create learning environments, evaluate students learning and to communicate effectively with the students.

1. Understanding Students Goals:

Effective or good teaching is about understanding :

  • What students already know
  • What students can and cannot do
  • How students think
  • What they value
  • What gets in their way of learning

Teachers often overlook the “bored”, the “tired”, the “restless” students who may be “telling” these teachers a great deal about what works and what doesn’t in their teaching.

2. Creating Learning Environments:

Effective teaching is helping students to get involved in the work and stay that way. They are able to help students to create learning environments in all subject areas by:

  • Helping students to create a clear structure at the begining of the year –  to learn to be effective learners
  • Organizing the yearly plan into units – consisting of : the overall class lessons; a menu of independent activities; pair work or group work; etc.
  • Focusing on basic facts and emphasizing on reasoning and critical thinking activities.
  • Talking less in class and have students to talk more.
  • Homework as a means to communicate with parents about children’s learning. (Marilyn Burns, 1995, pp87-88)

3. Communicating:

Effective teaching is being able to communicate clearly (verbally and written) to students, parents, administors and other teachers. They are able to communicate their expectations for students performance, and indicating their wilingness to help. They state their expectation clearly for their students to understand. They also recognize students successes and acknowledge their failures; and help students to judge their own progress.

4. Adapting Instruction for Students with Special Needs:

Effective teaching is aknowledging that every child is special; and understanding their needs, abilities, interests, etc  is important to determine how best to plan for and to teach them. In another word, finding out what students know and can do before moving them forward according to his or own level of understanding.

Three general approaches for adapting instructions to children with special needs:

  • To remediate students’ with learning problems: eg. using concept mapping techniques;  to help students to acquire and and to apply new knowledge.
  • To compensate student deficiencies; eg. students with poor eyesight, or any other physical or mental setback by putting him closer to the front of the room, etc.
  • To capitalize on what students do well and prefer to do. Effective teaching is to use students existing interest and abilities to further pursue learning experiences. This will make students feel proud of what they already know, thus making them more willing to pursue something new.

5. Evaluating Students Learning:

Effective teaching is to make judgements daily about students’ academic performance; their attitudes and interests, and their ability to work with others. This is done by using two (2) types of assessment:

  • formative assessment which is conducted while a lesson is in progress.
  • summative assessment which is conducted at the end of a lesson, unit, or a course.

From these assessment, the teacher can:

  • determine the students’ background knowledge.
  • plan instructions that is appropriately challenging.
  • motivate students performance.
  • assess progress towards affective and cognitive goals.

Thus effective teaching is the teachers abilities to:

  • understand students.
  • communicate to students.
  • create learning environment.
  • adapt instructions for students with special needs.
  • assess students progress, give feedback and reinforces desirable behavior.

Effective teachers are also good managers who are always helping students to take control of their own learning.


Robert F. McNergney. Joanne M. McNergney, Foundation of Education – The Challenge of Professional Practice, Fourth Edition, Pearson, 2004.

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