Friday Focus! 

October 23, 2015

To provide a knowledge-centered classroom environment, attention must be given to what is taught, why it is taught, and what competence or mastery looks like.(Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000, p. 24)

This month, I started conducting classroom visits and walkthrough. Immediately after an observation, I email the teacher a document that explains the observation. The document focuses on three headings:

  • Student Engagement: The teacher designs quality knowledge work that actively engages students in learning.
  • Teacher Engagement: The teacher manages time, people, space, assessment data, and technology.
  • Classroom Environment: Teacher-Student interactions and student behavior.

Following these sections, I include a Comments” section. The final questions I ask within this category are always the following: “Was this lesson effective, efficient, and relevant? Why or why not?”

My focus during these observations is not evaluative, but supervisory. The goal of supervision is for teachers to analyze their own teaching while in the act of teaching by measuring its effectiveness, efficiency, and relevancy and making the necessary adjustments (Rice & Taylor, 2000).

To determine effectiveness, ask yourself, “Did students master the skills taught?” To gauge efficiency, ask, “How long does it take for the student to master the skills taught?” As for relevance, ask, “Is the learning meaningful? Can students apply it?”

The beginning of a lesson is sometimes referred to as the “set.” Three things you can do to make the set effective, efficient, and relevant. Establish relevance by relating the learning to students’ life experiences, and making a statement of learning.

We typically end our lessons with some form of closure. The things you can do during closure to help make the lesson effective, efficient, and relevant you should involve the students, in restating the learning, and identifying the critical elements or the important parts of the learning.

Another way of pondering over the concepts of effectiveness and efficiency is to consider effectiveness as doing the right things, and efficiency as doing things right. That is, we must ascertain precisely what key skills our students need to learn. Then, we must set about teaching them in a logical, orderly manner.

As for relevance, I have read a great deal of research that suggests that the most powerful principle of learning is meaning. At Almadina, our teachers are masters of making learning meaningful.

My hope is that we regularly remind ourselves to assess whether or not our lessons are effective, efficient, and relevant. As you know, all students can learn, though not at the same rate, or at the same level, or in the same way. Our job is to closely monitor our own teaching and to make the necessary adjustments while in the act of teaching so that all learners are learning and mastering key concepts. Thanks for providing learning opportunities for our students that are effective, efficient, and relevant. More importantly, thanks for Teaching with Passion each day!

Have a great weekend!

Jamal