I went to primary school in the early 1980’s; I had a very typical education, for the time, Maths, English, Science, with hefty doses of fear in the form of the threat of corporal punishment. We sat in rows, no talking, no sharing of ideas just copying from the black board into our books. I actually did very well at school, but I know that some of my classmates, the ones who didn’t quiet fit the norm, had a very lonely, isolated experience that frightened them off learning forever. When I began my study I knew that there must be a better way to teach all students, and I am very glad to say there is. The most important elements of effective teaching in today’s classroom are those that have a humanistic approach, that have the respect of the child at their core. Roy Killen, lecturer and writer on teacher education, states “no single teaching strategy is effective all the time for all learners” (2007); this is because many of the factors that contribute to a student’s learning are out of our control. With that in mind, I have reflected, done some questioning, and made decisions about my study to date and I have been able to clarify from my study that the most important elements of effective teaching are; knowing and understanding students and how to motivate them, positive and proactive classroom management, constructivist theory, and finally behaving professionally and ethically.
Effective teaching; Knowing the students, belonging, and how to motivate them.
A deep and full knowledge and understanding of our students is the foundation of effective teaching, from this knowledge teachers can form a relationship, relationships help students feel as if they belong and belonging is key to student success and a powerful motivator. I will begin my reflection on this subject by looking at the educational research that has proven the link between knowledge of students and effective teaching.
Kevin Barry & Len King assert that teaching is a very human endeavor, it requires a relationship to be formed, “ as teachers our effectiveness is going to be determined largely by how we approach and work with this human dimension” (2004). Teachers need to spend time to get to know their students and truly understand them in order to get the best from them; they need to mindful and reflective upon the quality of their interactions with students, (Groundwater, 2006). In order to build a relationship with students the teachers must appreciate the socioeconomic variables, the different abilities in a group, ethnic, cultural, and gender differences. The learning styles of a class must also be catered for, possibly through adopting one or many, of a number of teaching models, and by being dynamic and as Lyons, Ford, Arthur-Kelly states, by being “thoroughly reflective” (2011, p.45), teachers need to reflect on what does and does not work.
An effective teacher will see this diversity as a positive; as Marsh states “having students in a class with...