Proposition 3

Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.

Accomplished teachers maintain high expectations for all students. They view themselves as facilitators of student learning, helping children and young adults reach their fullest potential. To achieve that goal, educators create vibrant, productive workspaces for their students, adjusting and improving organizational structures as needed while establishing effective ways to monitor and manage traditional and nontraditional learning environments.

First and foremost, teachers facilitate the educational process by designing opportunities for learning—planning for and presenting students with inspiring material, promoting their participation, supporting substantive discourse, and sustaining long-term engagement by collaboratively working with students. To track their success, teachers carefully monitor activity within the learning environment—observing student interactions, evaluating classroom performance, assessing all aspects of student development, and measuring learning outcomes relative to objectives. To increase students’ success, teachers diligently manage the systems, programs, and resources that support every educational endeavor—fostering positive relationships in and out of the classroom, making sure classroom materials are used appropriately, maintaining schedules, ensuring student safety, and otherwise maintaining all aspects of a well-functioning learning environment. As masters of pedagogical practice, accomplished educators teach efficiently, making the most of every instructional moment to maximize learning. They are dedicated to helping young people thrive by respecting, encouraging, and advancing student interests and student learning at all times.

Teachers Call on Multiple Methods to Meet Their Instructional Goals

Accomplished teachers possess a range of pedagogical skills—for instance, they facilitate student inquiry, advise cooperative learning groups, and mediate classroom discourse. Their instructional strategies are largely informed by their students and their subject matter, although professional knowledge also guides their practice significantly. Thus, accomplished teachers understand what they and their students can reasonably achieve in a roundtable discussion, when they should hold back and allow students teachers diligently manage to determine their own solutions, and which questions they can pose to provoke the most thoughtful classroom conversation. Importantly, effective educators possess a comprehensive knowledge of instructional methods, broad and deep in scope. They have a strong theoretical understanding of various instructional modes and sound practical experience implementing these strategies. Accomplished teachers examine pedagogical issues regularly and reflect on their practice so that they use classroom time constructively.

To increase students’ success, teachers diligently manage the systems, programs, and resources that support every educational endeavor.

Because students have diverse learning styles and educational settings offer distinct learning opportunities, accomplished teachers know how and when to alter the organizational structure of their classroom environments to support instructional objectives. They transition among teaching methods, social groupings, and physical layouts to customize their approach, and they develop strategies based on learning goals and student needs. For example, depending on instructional objectives, outdoor experiments or classroom simulations may be more productive for students than would a lecture or a discussion. Alternately, in some instances, journaling or note taking might be a more effective way to engage students in thinking and learning than would discovery-based activities or dramatic performances. Accomplished educators understand the full breadth of pedagogical options available to them. They use traditional methods, and they employ innovative strategies to advance student learning in pace with the dynamic conditions of the classroom.

When shifting their approach, accomplished teachers modify their learning environments and their instructional materials as needed. To inspire students further, teachers invite stakeholders and colleagues to the classroom so they can share their experience and communicate their expertise on specific topics. Accomplished educators appreciate how the knowledge and skills of other individuals can complement their own talents and enhance their students’ understanding. They know the value of mobilizing students as peer tutors for the same reason. Accomplished educators thus enlist a wide range of support—from students, teachers, and paraprofessionals to family and community members—to provide their students with instructional opportunities that will augment their learning.

Accomplished teachers understand the strengths and weaknesses of the pedagogical approaches they take, as well as their suitability for different students and student groups. The settings that teachers design, the situations they create, and the strategies they select are all grounded in educational research and professional experience. For accomplished educators, the classroom represents a world of opportunities. One activity can lead to the possibility of many others that will engage students and entice them to explore subjects further, sometimes with their teacher, sometimes with each other, and sometimes alone.

Teachers Support Student Learning in Varied Settings and Groups

Accomplished teachers know how to work with different groups of students. They manage those interactions carefully, establishing social norms for constructive communication, helping students adopt productive roles vis-à-vis their teachers and their peers, and showing students how to assume responsibility for their learning and for that of their classmates. The environments that teachers create guide student behavior and support learning as it takes place in large or small groups, in pairs, independently, or one-on-one with the teacher or another adult.

our_work-croppedBecause different pedagogical techniques may also require different types of social interaction, each carrying its own set of expectations, accomplished teachers remain sensitive to shifting norms that cast students and teachers in new roles. To ensure that the learning dynamic remains positive and responsive, educators assess the relative value of classroom structures and organizational requirements when determining which instructional strategies will best enhance student learning in their classrooms. They continually search for new configurations that will prove effective, expand their repertoire, and keep students excited to learn. The management techniques that accomplished teachers use are proactive rather than reactive, helping classroom participants focus on learning instead of controlling disruptive behavior. Educators thus develop classroom customs and practices based on their knowledge of students, social contexts, and learning objectives, as well as their prior experience.

Teachers Value Student Engagement

Accomplished teachers know how to keep students motivated by capturing their attention and immersing them in the learning process. Teachers understand that they can build bridges between what students know and what they are capable of learning by expanding old interests and sparking new passions. Accomplished educators therefore focus significant attention on developing strategies to promote student interests and to monitor student engagement.

Motivating students does not always mean that accomplished teachers make learning fun; learning can be difficult work. For instance, developing an acute sense of one’s body during dance requires intense intellectual and physical concentration. Similarly, writing a short story requires drafting and re-drafting, editing and re-editing, as well as responding to critiques from teachers and peers. Teachers must know how to encourage their students in the face of serious challenges and provide them with support as they push themselves to new physical, affective, and intellectual planes. Accomplished teachers model strategies for dealing with the doubts that students may experience, helping them realize that frustrating moments often are when learning occurs. Those moments produce the true joy of education, the satisfaction of accomplishment.

Teachers Regularly Assess Student Progress

Accomplished teachers monitor student performance as well as student engagement. Bearing considerable responsibility for the children and young adults they work with, educators examine the success of all activities they design. They assess learning experiences that they create or coordinate with the help of other educators, tracking what students do and do not learn while evaluating the effectiveness of their instructional strategies.

Assessment is not always done for the purpose of recording grades; rather, it allows students and teachers to examine their current status. Accomplished teachers evaluate students to determine what they have learned from instruction, whether that instruction is a week of lessons on life cycles, a unit of photography, or a semester of athletic training. Educators use those outcomes to decide if they should review skills within a topic, challenge students with a related concept, or advance to the next subject. They also help students engage in self-assessment, instilling them with a sense of responsibility for their own learning. By adding to their repertoire of assessment methods and by monitoring student progress regularly, accomplished teachers provide students, families, caregivers—and themselves—with constructive feedback.

Importantly, accomplished teachers understand that the purpose of evaluation affects the form and structure of any assessment—the method of observation, the length of duration, and the type of information gathered. Those factors, along with student demeanor and motivation, all affect the conclusions that teachers may reach when using a specific assessment. Educators therefore monitor student progress using a variety of evaluation methods, each with its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Accomplished teachers analyze data from standardized examinations, and they design their own assessment tools. For instance, they define the content requirements for student portfolios, create the scoring rubrics for demonstrations, and establish protocols for anecdotal record keeping. Above all, accomplished teachers are astute observers of their students—watching their movements and gestures, studying their facial expressions, listening to their words—so teachers can discover what students are thinking and determine how best to advance their learning.

On a continual basis, accomplished teachers monitor the progress of individual students, evaluate classes as learning collectives, and examine their practice in relation to their students and their classes.

Accomplished teachers evaluate their students throughout the learning process, from start to finish. They monitor student behavior at various times, in various situations, and for various purposes. So, when asking questions during group discussions, teachers may determine how well students comprehend information; when speaking with individuals working independently, they may consider ways to augment student learning; and when using an online assessment that provides immediate feedback from the class, they may gauge the relative value of an instructional technique. Thoughtful assessment requires diligence.

On a continual basis, accomplished teachers monitor the progress of individual students, evaluate classes as learning collectives, and examine their practice in relation to their students and their classes. Those judgments are interconnected, although each merits attention in its own right. The dynamic conveys some of teaching’s essential tensions—educators instruct individual students while guiding the development of groups—and they focus their efforts on students, while striving to improve their practice. Accomplished teachers find ways to accommodate what they know and learn about themselves and their students within plans for the whole group. They take individuals into consideration, thinking across the full spectrum of ability within their classrooms. Individuals may not learn the same things or proceed at the same pace, but accomplished teachers are dedicated to ensuring that they all increase their knowledge, strengthen their skills, and expand their abilities.

Teachers Engage Students in the Learning Process

Throughout the learning process, accomplished teachers work collaboratively with their students. They plan their instruction carefully—identifying educational objectives, developing them, and discussing them with students. Teachers provide children and young adults with a clear understanding of what the objectives are and why they are relevant, encouraging students to take ownership of them. They motivate students to learn by stimulating their interest and challenging them during instruction.

To engage students further, teachers manage classroom dynamics and monitor student progress toward the completion of their goals. Educators analyze learning outcomes in relation to educational objectives, showing students what they have achieved, reviewing what they need to do, and formulating strategies with them for the completion of that work. By contextualizing evaluation within the learning process, accomplished teachers use assessment to empower themselves and their students. They help students identify opportunities to reach their goals and show them the importance of becoming active learners.