Welcome to the RM Blog. The purpose of this blog is to create a forum for an active conversation among graduate students, educators, researchers and anyone else involved in language, literacy and technology education. It is hoped that individuals who have an interest in these subjects will engage with each other to further contribute to these areas of discussion and offer personal and professional insights.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What is effective teaching?

I teach reading and writing courses in a community college and love what I do. Recently though I have been wondering if others feel the same way. Some of my colleagues appear to be very passionate about what they teach. How do I know? Well, students talk with each other in the hallways, in the cafeteria, and in classes. I hear great things about some classes and teachers. At other times, students seem less than complimentary. I would also say that I’m not excluded from this. I’m sure there are lessons I could have taught differently at times or lessons that did not work as well as I had hoped. Even so, I feel I go into every class prepared to give it my all. So this brings a question to mind. What is effective teaching? Can we all claim to be effective teachers? What do students expect from us? We would really like to hear what you have to say so please chime in.


Blogger Randall Sadler said...

Great post! This also brings up the issue of "effective teaching" versus "entertaining teaching." I have observed some of my students/TAs (I teach in an MATESOL program)teaching ESL writing courses who sometimes get complaints from their students, yet these are TAs who I consider to be very effective teachers. In such cases it is sometimes the issue of differing expectations between teachers and students (or administrators). I see my TAs as providing their students with very good information on Academic Writing, but their students sometimes have a hard time seeing the connection between what they learn in the ESL classes and the kinds of writing they do in their own degree programs. I suppose that part of what we should do to be effective reading/writing teachers at the university level is to help students make that connection.

9:43 AM

Blogger jploucky said...

Greetings Ya'll!
Great to emphasize not only online entertaining teaching and learning sites, but to also aim to always ask ourselves if they are effective and efficient ways of learning our intended content or student's desired learning goals. For example, in area of Language Education, please check out the Zillions of links to sites I regard as doing both well. Hopefully U all agree that good online learning (or offline in traditional classrooms as well, for that matter) should aim to be BOTH fun and effective!
To see if links I recommend are, try cruising thru my site at:

Check out our Virtual Language Learning Encyclopedia & Software Shop at: www.CALL4All.us

John Paul Loucky


2:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Effective teaching should always be centered around how people learn. Three key findings were addressed in how people learn things in general in a book called "How People Learn." First, you have to access students' prior knowledge, Or misconceptions. Second, whatever you teach has to be part of a concept building process or unit construction project. So all facts and information provided by the teachers should feed into that concept building process. Finally, there's the metacognition part. Teachers have to make students aware of how they have learned certain things and what makes them do that. For example, teachers may ask students how they came to learn the use of the past perfect tense. maybe there are ways that they learned from other teachers that have worked well for them. When they give you their own account of how they learned certain concepts, they, in the process become concious and aware of their learning style. Other ways may work for different students. Having said that, teachers should always incorporate fun even in the midst of teaching the most difficult concepts.

Khetam Dahi
Part-time Instructor
Long Beach City College

8:16 PM

Blogger Sarolta said...

Teaching cannot be effective if learning is not achieved. This of course means that effective teaching/learning involves the engagement of both the teacher and the student. We must never forget that a teacher can have efficient control only of her/his part.

Moreover, there are so many things at play (teaching & learning styles, motivation, cognitive skills, personality traits, etc.) that expecting to be effective at all times is irrealistic.

So what can we do?
- Be open-minded and observant.
- Listen.
- Learn.
- Understand and try making it better next time.

Being efficient enough overall is the only realistic aim we can set.

Randall raises an important issue when he says that we must help students make the connection between what they learn in the ESL/EFL classes and real life/study. I especially like the word HELP. That's realistic: we can only help students as much as they want to be helped. And yes, it's real life that we should be thinking of at all times.

The issue of efficient teaching, however, raises anoher important question: what are the things students need to learn. Stephen Downes summed it all up so well in his blog post at http://halfanhour.blogspot.com/2006/08/things-you-really-need-to-learn.html.
I warmly recommend it.


8:38 AM

Anonymous LBCC said...

First of all, as far as I'm concerned, effective teaching is different from good teaching. One may be a good, but rather not an effective teacher. Necessarily though, one has to be a good teacher to be an effective teacher.

Honestly, I'm not a teacher, and yet from my humble learning experience, effective teaching should produce a desired result, reflecting on students' work. It starts off with the goals of teaching. What does someone, as a teacher, wish to accomplish and pass on to his/her students? With that being said, how to carry out the plans? But that's just how to be a good, not an effective teacher. The point is not how someone teaches, but rather how students learn and become after being taught.

For instance, if I were to teach a writing class, I would expect to see how good my students could possibly write at the level of my course, upon completion my class.

How fun, interesting, and easy I make my class doesn't matter. A lot, if not all, of my students pass my class doesn't also constitute my effective teaching.

My teaching would, however, be so effective when my students could write at the expected and desired level with my writing assignments and by means of my teaching. Bottom line is I have to do my homework, as a teacher, to make this all happens, and become an effective teacher.

2:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello everybody! In my opinion effective teaching has to do with commitment.
Am I willing to dedicate time to prepare my lessons according to my student's needs? Am I willing to try new things that will engage my students to learn? Am I willing share new ideas with my colleagues and learn from them? Am I willing to take courses to keep myself updated on teaching methodologies or techniques?
I think having such commitment will automatically lead to effective teaching.
Maribel Boender

2:20 AM


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