The Secret Strategy of Developing Teaching Abilities
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate BUSAYO J. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Plan Your Teaching Backward from Authentic Performance Tasks
Planning our teaching “backward” from desired performances on rich, authentic tasks helps teachers focus on what matters most. With this performance orientation, teachers are less likely to simply march through lists of content objectives or pages in a textbook, or to have their students complete worksheets on discrete skills.
Steps to Take
When genuine performance is the goal, we can emulate the practices of effective coaches and sponsors of extra-curricular activities by following a general instructional process like the following:* Once the performance task has been identified, deconstruct the task to identify necessary concepts, knowledge, and skills needed by learners for a successful performance.* Use pre-assessments to find out the entry-level current knowledge and skill levels of the learners.* The plan targeted lessons to develop the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to tackle the assumptive task. Differentiate this instruction as needed to address the learning variability among students. Use on-going formative assessments to check on the development of requisite knowledge, skills, and understandings.* Engage learners with formative “mini-tasks” — simplified or scaffold ed versions of the assumptive task — and provide feedback to students as they work on the mini tasks.* Allow time for them to practice and/or make revisions based on the feedback.
Expect students to self assess their learning and performance and set goals based on assessment results:
Educators who provide regular opportunities for learners to self-assess and set goals often report a change in the classroom culture. As I will put it, “My students have shifted from asking, ‘What did I get?’ or ‘What are you going to give me?’ to becoming increasingly capable of knowing how they are doing and what they need to do to improve.
I contend that students need to know not only what they will be learning today, but also why they are learning it and how this learning will prepare them for something worthwhile in the future. One way to help students see the larger goal for their learning teachers to frame their learning outcomes not simply as lists of knowledge and skill objectives (or grade-level standards) but rather in terms of the authentic performances that learning will enable. The message to students is.
When the performance tasks are set in an authentic context that reflects the “real world” application of knowledge and skills, learners are more likely to see the purpose and relevance of what they are being asked to learn. Like the game in athletics and the play in a theater, having a clear and authentic performance goal (solid performance on a known task) focuses both teaching and learning. Help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work. Help faculty recognize where students are struggling and address problems immediately.
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Teaching toward authentic performance calls for teachers to employ an array of instructional practices, including direct instruction and modeling, to facilitate teaching and ongoing assessments. When preparing students to apply their learning in realistic situations, teachers function like coaches, providing feedback as students develop the skills and work on “scrimmages.”
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