The Best Current Teaching Practice

Introduction

When thinking about teaching, one inevitably considers majors of nowadays education. Admittedly, educators of the twenty-first century face many challenges. Of course, it is essential to understand what effective teaching is and to come up with particular strategies and techniques (Marzano, 2007). It is possible to define effective teaching as the process of passing on information to active recipients (Schiering et al., 2011). Effective teaching can be possible if the teacher understands the majors of modern education and is ready to exploit all available means to pursue educational goals. Kozol (2007) stresses that teachers should inspire students to seek more knowledge. Educators should also try to work out strategies and teaching practices to address modern educational goals.

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Jean Piaget, Howard Gardner and Benjamin Bloom can be regarded as such inspiring and inventive educators. These educators as well as many other renowned thinkers and teachers have developed many effective teaching practices, philosophies and models. For instance, Piaget advocated students’ independence, Gardner revolutionized teaching practice by his theory of multiple intelligences and Bloom opened up new horizons by his taxonomy.

It goes without saying that such educators influence greatly the development of the contemporary teaching philosophy which ‘reigns’ the contemporary academic world. Current teaching philosophies are based on the following principles: educators should take into account various factors that affect students and educators should inspire students to become active learners. This philosophy is manifested in the most effective models, i.e. inquiry-based, Direct Instruction and blended models. A combination of these models can be regarded as the most effective current teaching practice.

Teaching Models and Philosophies

Defining Effective Teaching

Before focusing on teaching models and philosophies, it is essential to define effective teaching. It is essential to understand what effective teaching is to analyze the most appropriate models, techniques and philosophies. Schiering et al. (2011) define teaching as “the act of passing on information for learning” (p. 19). This definition may seem a bit simplistic. However, this short definition reveals the nature of teaching. In simple terms, teaching is, indeed, ‘passing information’. Nonetheless, to make teaching effective and “effective” the student should be “more than a passive recipient of knowledge”, but the one who is “actively engaged in the learning process” (Schiering et al., 2011, p.19). Admittedly, the teacher should encourage students to interact with each other and with the teacher (Marzano, 2007). The learner should be encouraged to perceive information, seek new data and reveal his/her knowledge. Learners should also be able to apply information in various settings.

Interestingly, Schiering et al. (2011) mention that effective teaching depends on the teacher’s personality. Thus, it is not enough to know (or even) use successful strategies and teaching models. The teacher should inspire students to acquire knowledge. Kozol (2007) suggests that the teacher should “exploit every bit of personal theatricality” to create the necessary atmosphere for students to hear him/her (p. 10). The teacher should become the model. Besides, Schiering et al. (2011) claim that the teacher should understand how students feel, whether they are attentive, whether they are ready to interact. Of course, it is worth mentioning that the teacher can improve his/her performance (and authority) using effective teaching models and approaches.

Finally, it is also important to remember that practice makes perfect. Kozol (2007) argues that some educators focus on their research and writing books. However, they should definitely spend a certain time in the classroom. They should teach to understand the major challenges of the contemporary teacher. It is also essential to remember that effective teaching presupposes being realistic. The successful teacher understands that there are always ups and downs. Effective teaching presupposes a great deal of patience. One should look for new approaches if old ones fail. Therefore, effective teaching is an ongoing process where teachers and students should actively interact.

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Those Who Have Had the Greatest Impact

It is important to note that various teaching techniques, models and philosophies have been worked out throughout decades (and even centuries). There have been many talented educators who contributed greatly to the development of effective teaching practices.

Jean Piaget

Admittedly, Jean Piaget (1896-1980) is one of the most renowned thinkers who influenced greatly the current teaching philosophies. One of the most remarkable researcher’s claims is as follows: education should not simply produce members of certain societies who simply possess certain knowledge, but it should create thinkers who can change the world for the better (Smith, 2001). This thinker was one of those who did revolutionize the educational system which was highly instruction-oriented, so to speak, in the middle of the twentieth century.

Piaget stressed that the major aim of educators was making students memorize some facts or making them able to use some knowledge in real-life settings. The researcher opened up new horizons when he revealed his ideas concerning major values of education. Educators should encourage students to think, create and seek development, he argued (Smith, 2001). Admittedly, this philosophy is now prevailing among educators who understand the importance of students’ independence and creativity.

Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner (1943-) is another influential educator whose ideas reshaped educational philosophy in the United States, and worldwide (Kornhaber, 2001). Admittedly, Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences has strengths and weaknesses. It also has proponents and opponents. However, irrespective of some flaws of the theory, Gardner made really valuable conclusions. Many educators have argued that the system aimed at ‘measuring’ linguistic and logical abilities of students is one-sided, to say the least. Admittedly, even a novice educator can see that every student has different abilities and inclinations. Therefore, it is essential to develop those abilities rather than make students focus on certain areas. Gardner argues that it is essential to come up with different approaches. Notably, Gardner does not simply contemplate but depicts certain strategies to use (Gardner, 2006). This precision makes him one of the most influential educators of current teaching practice.

Benjamin Bloom

Finally, it is important to mention Benjamin Bloom who made a great contribution to the development of teaching practice (Husen, 2001). The researcher’s taxonomy has helped many educators to work out different effective approaches. Bloom stressed that teachers have to set different objectives. Apart from this, he also came up with effective approaches to reach this or that objective. Bloom’s contribution can hardly be overestimated though some modern researchers criticize it. Nevertheless, Bloom unveiled a very effective approach that enables teachers to achieve major educational goals.

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It goes without saying that many educators left their traces in the history of teaching. However, the three thinkers mentioned above reshaped teaching practice to a certain extent. It is possible to state that these educators have had the greatest impact on modern teaching practice.

Most Meaningful Teaching Philosophies

As far as the most meaningful teaching philosophy is concerned, Schiering et al. (2011) provide a detailed description of their philosophy. The researchers claim that the teacher should take into account a number of factors that influence students. The researchers focus on such notion as “sociology of the world” (SOW) which stands for ethnic and cultural background (Schiering et al., 2011, p. 56). One more notion “REAP” (Religion, Economics, Academics, and Politics) is also analyzed (Schiering et al., 2011, p. 58). It is stated that the teacher should take into account all the external factors mentioned above to achieve his/her educational goals. In other words, to make a student understand some information, the teacher should understand the student and the way he/she might be thinking. This can seem a rather difficult task. Nonetheless, this philosophy is applicable in real life. More so, it should be used in nowadays classrooms.

It goes without saying that now classes are not homogeneous anymore. Teachers should work with students having different backgrounds. It is essential to understand those backgrounds and find a way to pass on information to the student. The teacher should speak the language of his/her students, so to speak. Admittedly, students will appreciate such attention and they will be able to interact with the teacher actively. Therefore, the present philosophy, which presupposes taking into account external factors that influence the student, is the most effective teaching philosophy nowadays. It addresses the needs of modern teachers and learners.

One more philosophy that is really meaningful and helpful in the modern world is Kozol’s (2007) philosophy. The educator articulates the necessity of being attentive, precise and hardworking. The teacher should focus on students’ abilities, inclinations, backgrounds, etc. The teacher should anticipate possible barriers to overcome. The educator keeps reminding of the ability to self-develop. The teacher can never stop learning. It is essential to try new strategies, techniques and approaches. Finally, Kozol (2007) claims that the teacher should develop certain personal qualities. Students will listen to (and hear) the person who is inspiring, dedicated, emotional, humorous, etc. No matter what approach is used, the teacher should encourage students to seek more information. Students should be encouraged to self-develop as well.

Most Meaningful Teaching Models

Enquiry-based Model

Kobarg et al. (2011) argue that now teachers need to resort to different models. One cannot but agree with such an assumption if to take into account the most meaningful teaching philosophy of the modern world. It is possible to state that effective teaching presupposes a combination of effective teaching models. Now many educators claim that enquiry-based teaching models are most effective. Thus, Kobarg et al. (2011) point out that this approach is especially effective when teaching science. Of course, this teaching model is also effective in other areas. Students are motivated to acquire more knowledge, to be attentive during classes, to be more hard-working. This model presupposes the setting of some questions or problems to be solved by students.

The approach has become quite popular recently as it addresses contemporary teaching philosophies. Thus, the inquiry-based model makes students think and find their own ways. Students are not passive receivers of information as they are encouraged to search for data to solve particular issues. However, when using this approach teachers should remember that it requires a lot of work on their part. Seemingly, the teachers do not take any part in the process of acquiring knowledge. Of course, this is not so as they are always there to guide students. Besides, it is important to be able to set achievable goals and provide problems that can be solved by students. Here the teacher should also follow the philosophy of SOW and REAP. The teacher should take into account various factors that can influence students. Though, it is necessary to note that the model is worth effort as it does encourage students to learn and be active and motivated.

Direct Instruction

There is one more effective teaching model, which was, nevertheless, underestimated lately. Direct Instruction was the model excessively used in the first part of the twentieth century. It has been largely criticized since then. Many educators have argued that the model makes students passive recipients of certain facts. They have also claimed that Direct Instruction often had a reverse effect, i.e. students became indifferent to the subject or even disliked subjects, their teachers and the entire learning process. Admittedly, the model does have certain flaws. More so, it was too subject-oriented in the twentieth century. Nonetheless, the model has been revised. Many educators come up with particular strategies and techniques which made the model effective. For instance, Silver et al. (2007) suggest an effective ‘revised’ model. They have worked out new ways of presenting information that is aimed at making students encouraged and active.

Basically, the direct instruction model is now student-oriented. Educators come up with strategies of introducing information, giving instructions, guiding, etc. It goes without saying that the model has been reconsidered in terms of the ‘ruling’ teaching philosophy. Educators point out that it is essential to focus on various factors that affect students (Silver et al., 2007; Orlich et al., 2009). The teacher should find the most appropriate communicative channel so that each student can perceive information properly. Thus, Orlich (2009) argues that Direct Instruction can and should presuppose active learning as well. The teacher should be able to involve students in the learning process. Luckily, various techniques have been already worked out for teachers to try in class settings. It is possible to argue that the model used is not the Direct Instruction approach anymore. However, the model still focuses on instruction rather than setting problems to solve. It presupposes direct guidance so this is simply an updated approach.

Blended Model

Finally, one of the most disputable approaches is still the blended model. Educators have thought of using IT technology since the 1970-the 80s. Nowadays these technologies are effectively used by many teachers. More so, distance learning has acquired loads of opportunities due to the use of technology (Ndon, 2011). However, it is important to note that the blended model has acquired wide popularity among teachers. Such tools as computers, the Internet, mobile phones, etc. are being used during classes.

It is important to note that this approach is often combined with both inquiry-based and Direct Instruction models. Of course, the Internet provides a lot of opportunities for learners as well as teachers. It is not only about effective communication. Thus, lecturers often use the Internet (social networks, searching browsers, etc.) to make students interact more effectively during lectures and discussions. It goes without saying that inquiry-based model has become interconnected with blended models.

Best Teaching Practice”

It is necessary to point out that nowadays educators use different approaches and work out their own teaching philosophies. It can be quite difficult to define current teaching practice. Thus, teachers of the first part of the twentieth century used Direct Instruction models, whereas teachers of the second part of the twentieth century focused on inquiry-based models. Now some educators insist on the use of the latter approach. However, many educators advocate Direct Instruction approach. Of course, one should remember about blended models which are also very popular now. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that now educators tend to use a combination of approaches. Of course, each teacher focuses on a particular model while using the other two.

It is also important to note that these approaches are supported by (and oriented towards) Kozol’s philosophy. Teachers understand that every student needs some special approach as he/she is affected by numerous factors. Ethnic and cultural diversity leaves its mark on current teaching philosophies and practices.

Admittedly, this is a very effective teaching practice. The combination of the most effective approaches enables teachers to communicate their ideas properly. Numerous techniques used in the inquiry-based model, Direct Instruction and Blended model are at teachers’ disposal now. Teachers can achieve their educational goals due to the availability of various tools (Richards & Farrell, 2011). Besides, teachers can use the most appropriate technique and approach for each topic or they can combine different models while working on a single topic. For instance, it is a widespread practice to introduce a topic using the Direct Instruction Model and pass it on to inquiry-based models to consolidate knowledge. Assessment is often carried out with the help of a blended model. Of course, this pattern is not the only one used by teachers. The approaches can change from subject to subject, from stage (introduction, consolidation or assessment) to stage, from teacher to teacher, from class to class. Thus, teachers can use existing techniques based on different approaches. More so, many educators try to come up with their own strategies.

Therefore, it is possible to define the teaching practice which governs current practice as follows: the best teaching practice combines elements of the most effective philosophies and approaches that have been worked out throughout the twentieth century (and, to a certain extent, throughout centuries). Now educators are not followers of some effective techniques but rather creators of new strategies. Teachers tend to try new ways of teaching. Of course, the successful implementation of new techniques and models encourages many educators to come up with their own ideas and strategies. Therefore, the current teaching practice brings modern education up to new standards.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is possible to state that the best teaching practice that governs current practice is a combination of the most effective teaching models and philosophies. Modern educators have come up with numerous effective techniques to address major challenges. Now teachers understand the importance of taking into account factors that influence students. Teachers are also ready to combine the most effective teaching models to achieve major educational goals. Admittedly, this approach will enable teachers to draw the necessary communicative channels. They will also be able to create the most appropriate atmosphere in classrooms. All this will encourage students to learn more and become active recipients of the information. Students will become eager to self-develop and work hard to change the world for the better.

References

Gardner, H. (2006). The development and education of the mind: The selected works of Howard Gardner. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Husen, T. (2001). Benjamin S. Bloom, 1913-99. In L. Bresler, & D. Cooper (Eds.), Fifty modern thinkers on education: From Piaget to the present day (pp. 86-90). New York, NY: Routledge.

Kobarg, M. et al. (2011). An international comparison of science teaching and learning: Further results from PISA 2006. New York, NY: Waxmann Verlag.

Kornhaber, M.L. (2001). Howard Gardner, 1943. In L. Bresler, & D. Cooper (Eds.), Fifty modern thinkers on education: From Piaget to the present day (pp. 272-280). New York, NY: Routledge.

Kozol, J. (2007). Letters to a young teacher. New York, NY: Crown.

Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching: A comprehensive framework for effective instruction. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Deve.

Ndon, U.T. (2011). Hybrid-context instructional model: The Internet and the classrooms: The way teachers experience it. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Orlich, D.C. et al. (2009). Teaching strategies: A guide to effective instruction. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Richards, J.C., Farrell, T.S.C. (2011). Practice teaching: A reflective approach. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Schiering, M., Bogner, D., & Buli-Holmberg, J. (2011). Teaching and learning: A model for academic and social cognition. Lanham, MD: R&L Education.

Silver, H., Strong, R., & Perini, M. (2007). The strategic teacher: Selecting the right research-based strategy for every lesson. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Smith, L. (2001). Jean Piaget, 1896-1980. In L. Bresler, & D. Cooper (Eds.), Fifty modern thinkers on education: From Piaget to the present day (pp. 37-44). New York, NY: Routledge.

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