First, the teacher has to know – the content.
But, it is not enough to just know.
You also have to know how to deliver what you know, the content, to the students in an interesting, clear and engaging fashion so that your knowledge and understanding become students’ knowledge and understanding – the pedagogy.
Those are the two main things – content and pedagogy – that a teacher needs to know to go from being mediocre to great.
And, how do you, as the School Principal or Vice Principal, as the Academic Head or Head Mistress, ensure that your teachers go from being mediocre to great? Well, let us take a look.
Teachers’ Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy
The goal should be to move the teachers’ knowledge of content and pedagogy from Level 1 to Level 4 (University of Illinois College of Education, 2013):
• The teacher makes content errors or does not correct errors made by students.
• The teacher displays little understanding of prerequisite knowledge.
• The teacher displays little or no understanding of the range of pedagogical approaches.
• The teacher displays extensive knowledge of the important concepts in the discipline and how these relate both to one another and to other disciplines.
• The teacher demonstrates an understanding of prerequisite relationships among topics and concepts and understands the link to necessary cognitive structures that ensure student understanding.
• The teacher’s plans and practice reflect familiarity with a wide range of effective pedagogical approaches in the discipline and the ability to anticipate student misconceptions.
Two Kinds of Content Knowledge
The first, content knowledge, includes knowledge of the subject and its organizing structures. Knowing a subject for teaching requires more than knowing its facts and concepts. The teacher need not only understand that something is so; the teacher must further understand why it is so, on what grounds its claims can be asserted, and under what circumstances our belief in its justification can be weakened or denied.
The second category, curricular knowledge, is represented by the full range of programs designed for the teaching of particular subjects and topics at a given level, and the variety of instructional materials available in relation to those programs (Phelps, 2008).
Five Standards of Effective Pedagogy
To ensure the move from Level 1 to Level 4, you have to pay attention to these 5 standards of effective pedagogy, which are applicable across grade levels, student populations, and content areas (Dalton, 1998):
1. Joint Productive Activity (JPA): Teacher and Students Producing Together – Facilitate learning through joint productive activity among teacher and students. Learning occurs most effectively when experts and novices work together for a common product or goal and are therefore motivated to assist one another.
2. Developing Language and Literacy Across the Curriculum (LLD) – Develop competence in the language and literacy of instruction across the curriculum by the ways of using language that prevail in school discourse, such as ways of asking and answering questions, challenging claims, and using representations.
3. Making Meaning: Connecting School to Students’ Lives – Connect teaching and curriculum with experiences and skills of students’ home and community. That is, contextualization to show that abstract concepts are drawn from and applied to the everyday world.
4. Teaching Complex Thinking (CT) – Challenge students toward cognitive complexity; that is, instruction that requires thinking and analysis, not only rote, repetitive, detail-level drills.
5. Teaching Through Conversation (IC) – Engage students through dialogue, especially the Instructional Conversation. Thinking, and the abilities to form, express, and exchange ideas are best taught through dialogue, through questioning and sharing ideas and knowledge. The teacher listens carefully, makes guesses about the intended meaning, and adjusts responses to assist students’ efforts–just as in graduate seminars, or between mothers and toddlers.
Please connect with us at Butterfly Fields to request for a Free Demo to appreciate how we can be of immense help to you in achieving your above goals of improving content knowledge, curricular knowledge, and effective pedagogy.
Dalton, S. S., 1998. Pedagogy Matters: Standards for Effective Teaching Practice. [Online]
Available at: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/6d75h0fz
[Accessed 19 Sep 2019].
Phelps, G. C., 2008. Content Knowledge for Teaching: What Makes It Special?. Journal of Teacher Education, 59(5), pp. 389-407.
University of Illinois College of Education, 2013. Rubrics for the Framework of Teaching. [Online]
Available at: https://education.illinois.edu/docs/default-source/school-and-community-experiences/full-rubrics-for-the-danielson-framework-for-teaching.pdf?sfvrsn=3d6f1e88_0
[Accessed 19 Sep 2019].