How Can Teachers Enhance Student Achievement?

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Teacher-focused Strategies for Effective Learning

Refresh your teaching styles  to reach students effectively and help them to achieve their learning goals…

A successful educator is one who is able to reach all students in the classroom using the best possible instructional methods and an approach that encourages and builds the students’ desire to explore and learn. Here are some approaches and strategies that teachers can introduce in their class to make learning more effective.

1. Daily Review
Some teachers begin each class with a short review of what was studied in the previous class. This is an excellent practice. When certain key concepts learned in a previous class are reinforced through review before continuing the subject, this helps remind students of what they learned and develops a concrete base for their learning. Teachers could use creative ways to help students remember what they learned e.g.: Flash cards, pop quizzes, games that involve newly learned words or facts, calendar math, etc.

What should be reviewed?

  • Key concepts, important words, math or science formulae and other such information that you want the students to remember.
  • Homework and corrections.
  • Problem areas faced by the students.

2. Teach in Small Steps
A classroom often has a mixture of student types; each with a different capacity and attention span to grasp what is taught. Thus, it is most practical for teaching to be broken down into small components or steps. Focus as much attention as possible on a concept within a short period. In this way, a teacher can teach a small part, but teach it well.

Putting it into practice

  • When teaching new material, it helps to compensate for the limitation of the working memory.
  • Teachers can give different examples to enforce the new material.

3. Cues and Questions
Cues, questions and advance organizers are different tools that teachers can use in the classroom to create a framework for students to focus on to learn a new topic. These are most effective when used before a learning experience. They are used to gain an understanding of what students already know about the topic and their ideas or misconceptions regarding it.

Keep in mind

  • Instead of asking close ended questions, if you ask open ended or analytical questions, it helps students sharpen their thinking and analytical skills.
  • Offer students the opportunity to process the information and respond to it.
  • Use different techniques to introduce learning with the help of verbal cues, visually with graphic organizers and other creative ways.

4. Non-linguistic Representations
Most classes involve a lot of linguistic forms of learning like reading and hearing. When non-linguistic forms of representing the taught material are also incorporated into a classroom, the student has a better chance of understanding and learning the subject matter. Common non-linguistic forms of representation include graphics and visuals. A few examples are Venn diagrams, images, different types of bars and graphs, flow charts and even interactive videos in the classroom.

Get creative

  • Compare and contrast with Venn Diagrams.
  • Sequence, classify and show cause and effect with Flow Charts.
  • Display numerical data, statistics with Graphs.
  • Display information in pictorial form using Images for better understanding.

5. Similarities and Differences
When a concept is broken down into different components (similarities, dissimilarities, what it connects with, etc.) it becomes much easier to process information and learn. When a teacher guides the students by actively identifying similarities and differences or helping the students do so, it enhances student learning and improves their ability to use the acquired knowledge.

Using this strategy

  • Comparing and contrasting using graphic organizers like the Venn Diagram to focus student attention on the important characteristics of the particular subject matter.
  • Classifications or groups based on shared characteristics can also help students organize, understand and learn the information better.
  • When teaching unfamiliar or complex material, the use of a metaphor can help students connect the new concept with a familiar one.
  • Use Analogies to illustrate points by making connections between seemingly unconnected concepts.

6. Guided Practice
Guided practice is simply practice of what is learned (through different ways) in the presence of the teacher with guidance wherever needed. When a student practices what is learned, with the teacher present, the teacher is able to gauge exactly how much the student understands.

How to do it

  • Scaffolds are often used as part of guided practice when difficult tasks are involved. They are temporary instructional supports which students are gradually weaned from when they start gaining confidence in the subject matter.
  • When the teacher observes the students practicing or reviews the work, the areas of struggle for the students become clear. This can be re-taught or corrected at that time.

7. Feedback
Feedback helps students know what they want/need to achieve, where they are currently, and how they can achieve their goals. Verbal or written., when giving feedback, the teacher needs to have a level of comparison for student motivation and goal setting.

When should feedback be given?

  • Feedback is seen to be most effective when the student is still learning the subject. The teacher may observe how the students are practicing and give corrections and feedback during the process of the work.
  • When feedback is only negative, it can be overwhelming and demotivating for the students, especially for those struggling in that area. At the same time, only giving positive feedback may help the student feel better, but fails to motivate the student to work on weaknesses and achieve the desired goal.
  • Feedback shouldn’t be overburdening. Instead, the teacher can identify a few key areas that need to improve and help the student focus on these.

8. Reinforcing Effort
Students are dependent on different levels of the effort and achievement equation for the motivation to work hard. When effort is recognized and rewarded, the outcomes are generally much higher. It is essential for the teacher to be sensitive to the student’s current abilities and struggle areas while deciding when recognition is most appropriate.

The key

  • Recognizing and rewarding effort can be done with praise, symbolic or actual rewards and any other means of appreciation. The key is to reward effort so that each student, the strugglers as well as those who are comfortable with the task, are motivated to learn.
  • Rubrics is also an excellent tool to recognize and reward effort, especially with students in higher classes. The students can be encouraged to assess themselves based on these rubrics for personal recognition of effort.

9. Goals and Objectives
By working with the student to set a list of goals and objectives, the teacher helps the student understand their current state in the particular topic/subject, gives direction to their learning, and encourages them to actively engage in improving their abilities and knowledge, and thus own their ‘learning’.

A good goal must be…

  • Positive and clear.
  • Include, both, short term objectives and long term visions.
  • Focused on key areas in which the student might struggle.
  • Challenging but not overwhelming.

10. Homework
Homework is one of the ways the student gets involved in the independent practice of the learned material. When reviewing homework, teachers should give appropriate feedback that shows the student their work is valued. Additionally, corrections are made where necessary, so as to guide the learning process further.

Tune it

  • If homework is to be effective, it needs to be in tune with what is being taught and practiced in the classroom.

Teachers can try to include creative ways of making homework interesting from time to time to remove the element of boredom and increase student motivation to engage in homework.

Like this article for teachers?

Browse the Professional Learning Board COURSE CATALOG to find related online courses for teachers in your state. Professional Learning Board is a leading provider of online professional development classes that teachers use to renew a teaching license or renew a teaching certificate.

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