Success is a Non-Negotiable
Seven best practices for planning and implementing effective lessons
The following seven items showcase best practices, and in many cases, they are considered non-negotiables for the most effective educators. These non-negotiables are practiced by excelling teachers and expected by successful school administrators.
The list is designed to be a "quick read," then used as a checklist when planning and implementing lessons. The checklist also may be used for purposeful reflection and self-assessment. This quick tool is helpful for any teacher and any school leader.
- Instructional Delivery: With each lesson, content should be presented in an engaging manner that appeals to auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners. Be sure to "say it," "write it," "show it," and then have students "do something" with the information. In addition, make sure your "student talk" and "teacher talk" are balanced. Avoid classes where the teacher talk is far more than student talk.
- Student Roles: In each class, students should have the opportunity to read, write, speak, listen, and create something. While each student task will vary in duration, the practices should be incorporated into each class, each day. The seamless integration of technology also should be considered as part of a student's role.
- Stop-and-Jot: Make sure students have the chance to stop-and-jot several times during each class in order to increase accountability. The stop-and-jot can be completed with a post-it note, index card, journal, notebook paper, or it can be on a tablet or computer.
- Turn-and-Talk: Incorporate times when students engage in a turn-and-talk activity. This breaks up the lesson, gives students the chance to talk and process the information, and gives the teacher a chance to listen in, provide meaningful feedback, and correct misinformation as needed.
- Teacher Roles: Use each moment of class to teach, monitor, or work with a student/small group. At no point during instructional time is it best practice for the teacher to be removed from the students, at a desk, or alone. Teach well, allow students to work, and then during independent work time, spend your time assisting one student, a small group of students, or the whole group.
- Higher-Level Questioning: Avoid lower-level questions and avoid asking questions without the proper planning ahead of time. When we "wing it" with questions, the questions tend to not be as rigorous as we would like. Refer to Bloom's Revised Taxonomy as needed and strive for questions built around application, analysis, evaluation, and creating.
- Classroom Environment: The most effective classroom environments should be clean and orderly, free of clutter. In addition, there should be a showcase of quality student work. Lastly, make your environment a more meaningful one by greeting each child and then saying goodbye to each student, every day.
James Davis, Ph.D., is an associate professor and program coordinator at Coastal Carolina University, in Conway, South Carolina, where he works within the educational leadership department. He has been named both teacher of the year and principal of the year.
Published April 2019.