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Shaping!the!Future:!Meeting!the!Needs!of!All!
Learners!through!Effective!Teaching!Practices!
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By:!Greg!Thomas!
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In!todays!society,!being!a!teacher!is!much!different!than!it!was!50!years!ago.!!With!
the!everJincreasing!pressures!of!standardized!testing,!the!high!expectations!and!demands!
from!parents!and!administration,!and!the!insane!amount!of!extra!curricular!duties,!its!no!
wonder!!the!National!Center!for!Education!Statistics!estimates!almost!half!of!new!teachers!
leave!the!profession!only!after!five!years!(NEA.org).!!In!this!day!in!age,!teachers!are!not!
only!under!the!microscope!in!the!classroom,!but!on!their!free!time!as!well.!!!Teachers!can!
be!judged!as!irresponsible!or!unsuitable!just!for!the!type!of!pictures!they!have!on!social!
media!or!having!been!seen!smoking!a!cigarette!on!the!weekend.!!Despite!all!the!pressure!
and!expectations!that!may!seem!impossible!or!unreasonable,!there!are!still!effective!
teachers!who!commit!to!the!profession!and!work!to!the!best!of!their!abilities.!!In!my!
opinion,!effective!teachers!are!teachers!that!still!take!the!time!to!plan,!go!far!distances!to!
meet!the!needs!of!all!learners,!practice!efficient!classroom!management!skills,!all!while!
meeting!the!professions!demands.!!!!!
Weve!all!heard!the!phrase,!planning!is!the!key!to!success!and!an!effective!teacher!
will!take!that!quote!seriously.!!!An!effective!teacher!knows!whats!on!the!agenda!not!only!
for!the!day,!but!also!for!the!entire!school!year.!!These!teachers!know!which!benchmarks!
will!be!reached!at!a!given!time!of!the!year!and!are!carefully!planned!so!that!students!can!
apply!the!material!that!theyve!already!learned!to!more!complex!areas.!!These!teachers!
know!each!lessons!objective!and!the!process!he/she!needs!to!go!about!achieving!them,!
while!being!able!to!reflect!on!their!lesson!and!adjusting!their!plans!based!on!students!
progress!and!previous!knowledge.!!Also,!since!theres!only!about!three!hours!of!actual!
instructional!time!in!a!school!day,!these!teachers!are!already!prepared!and!know!the!
everyday!duties!that!need!to!be!done.!!Because!these!duties!are!already!planned!out,!

transitioning!and!getting!prepared!doesnt!interfere!with!instructional!time.!!Effective!
teachers!dont!scramble!and!waste!time!trying!to!find!the!necessary!materials!for!each!
lesson!because!they!already!know!what!is!needed!ahead!of!time!and!already!have!it!ready.!!
In!my!experiences!as!a!high!school!student,!I!can!think!of!many!examples!of!ineffective!
teachers.!!Many!of!these!teachers!obviously!did!not!plan!their!lessons,!but!simply!taught!
out!of!the!book.!!Teaching!out!of!a!book!can!be!effective,!but!only!if!you!are!able!to!build!on!
knowledge!your!students!already!have!and!keep!their!attention.!!!If!you!do!not!have!a!plan,!
and!are!not!a!naturally!captivating!speaker,!students!will!not!respond!and!you!will!lose!
them.!!The!human!brain!resists!meaningless!and!seeks!meaningful!patterns.!!Teachers!
create!meaning!by!constructing!lessons!with!high!relevance,!connecting!old!learning!to!
new!learning.!!(Wilen).!!I!feel!the!absolute!worst!method!of!teaching!is!when!teachers!have!
students!alternate!reading!sections!out!of!the!book,!which!I!have!experienced!many!times.!!
It!is!this!type!of!meaningless!work!and!unimaginative!lesson!planning!that!drives!students!
minds!to!wander!and!can!lead!to!a!disruptive!and!ineffective!learning!environment.!!!
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A!classroom!is!like!a!small!community!with!students!from!different!ages,!abilities,!
backgrounds,!interests,!and!experiences.!!Because!of!these!differences,!learners!will!
internally!create!their!own!meanings!to!information!as!it!is!presented!by!teachers.!!Some!
students!will!catch!on!to!certain!concepts!quickly,!whereas!other!students!may!develop!a!
totally!different!understanding!about!what!is!being!taught.!!Teachers!must!also!adjust!to!
the!different!styles!of!learners!in!the!classroom,!whether!they!are!kinesthetic,!spatial,!
intrapersonal,!visual,!etc.!!These!differences!are!why!differentiated!instruction!is!so!
important.!!Differentiated!instruction!gives!students!multiple!options!for!taking!

information,!making!sense!of!ideas,!and!expressing!what!they!learn!(Wilen).!!To!be!
effective,!a!teacher!must!be!flexible!in!their!plans!and!efficiently!assess!their!students!
progress!during!and!after!lessons!and!notice!when!they!must!make!changes!in!their!style!to!
reach!the!learners!effectively.!!A!teacher!must!also!be!aware!of!any!physical!or!learning!
disabilities!his/her!students!have!in!order!to!make!the!necessary!changes!in!lessons,!
homework,!tests,!classroom!environment,!etc.!to!ensure!these!students!are!not!at!a!learning!
disadvantage!to!other!students!in!the!class.!!Students!should!not!have!to!adjust!themselves!
to!their!teachers!style!of!instruction,!but!rather!it!is!the!teacher!who!is!responsible!in!
adjusting!to!students.!!I!have!my!share!of!teachers!who!did!not!adjust!their!teaching!style!to!
their!students,!but!I!have!had!teachers!who!did!effectively!tailor!their!lessons!to!the!
different!types!of!learners!in!their!classroom.!!In!an!Astronomy!course,!Mr.!Pflegal,!the!
instructor!did!an!excellent!job!at!gearing!his!lessons!to!the!different!learners!in!his!class.!!
Our!class!had!many!students!from!different!backgrounds!with!military!transplants,!college!
freshmen,!and!even!a!senior!citizen.!!Mr.!Pflegal!would!do!his!lecture!and!during!key!points!
of!the!lesson!he!would!get!the!class!involved!by!doing!things!like!having!the!students!dance!
around!the!classroom,!mocking!the!movements!of!the!earth!rotating!around!the!sun.!!Mr.!
Pflegal!was!also!good!at!providing!many!visual!aids!using!technology!like!an!ELMO,!
newspaper!clippings,!and!drawings!of!concepts!that!were!difficult!to!understand.!!Because!
we!were!taught!many!different!ways!and!involved!in!the!learning,!most!students!had!a!very!
good!understanding!of!the!concepts,!did!very!well!on!the!tests,!and!thoroughly!enjoyed!the!
class.!
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A!teacher!can!be!very!prepared,!be!passionate!about!what!they!do,!and!can!teach!
their!lessons!in!a!way!to!reach!all!the!students!in!the!classroom,!but!it!can!all!be!for!not!
because!the!measure!of!a!teachers!effectiveness!is!largely!determined!on!how!well!the!
classroom!is!managed!(Wilen).!!Managing!a!classroom!combines!instruction!with!discipline!
and!the!way!that!a!teacher!is!able!to!minimize!distractions,!boredom!and!disruptive!
behavior,!and!to!focus!on!setting!high!expectations!for!his/her!students!and!achieving!
them.!!Effective!classroom!management!also!helps!create!a!community!of!caring!and!trust!
where!learners!feel!physically!and!emotionally!safe!and!their!needs!for!belonging!and!
relatedness!are!met!(Eggen).!!This!community!of!learners!allow!students!to!focus!on!
reaching!the!academic!goals!and!standards!set!by!their!teachers!and!the!state.!!An!effective!
teacher!does!not!let!a!disruption!stop!the!momentum!of!learning!in!their!classroom!and!has!
set!up!rules!and!signals!so!he/!can!simply!gesture!or!move!by!a!student!and!they!will!know!
to!stop!being!disruptive.!!An!effective!teacher!also!will!be!able!to!analyze!the!progress!of!
their!lessons!and!they!will!know!when!they!must!change!the!style!or!direction!of!a!lesson!if!
the!students!seem!bored!or!do!not!understand!what!is!being!taught.!!Effective!managers!
know!how!to!maximize!their!time!spent!teaching!because!academic!learning!depends!on!
the!time!available!for!learning!and!effective!instruction,!and!there!is!no!time!to!waste.!
(Eggen).!!Much!of!classroom!management!is!problem!solving!in!that!a!teacher!must!always!
be!thinking!about!the!best!way!to!achieve!the!goals!of!their!lessons.!!Every!teacher!has!their!
own!style!to!management!because!every!teacher!has!their!own!personality.!!Similarly!to!be!
an!effective!classroom!manager,!teachers!must!know!their!students!and!be!able!to!teach!to!
their!abilities,!interests,!and!how!to!make!learning!fun.!!I!was!in!a!math!class!in!middle!
school!where!from!the!very!first!day!the!students!ran!the!class.!!The!teacher!tried!to!be!

very!firm!from!the!start!but!some!of!the!students!in!the!class!were!trouble!makers!and!
didnt!respond!well!to!the!teachers!rules!or!his!methods!of!discipline.!!The!teacher!was!
subject!to!daily!verbal!abuse!and!often!times!cried!in!front!of!the!class.!!This!teacher!lacked!
selfJesteem!and!was!obviously!unconfident!in!his!teaching!abilities,!so!when!the!students!
lashed!out,!he!had!no!idea!how!to!regain!control.!!This!was!by!far!the!worst!learning!
environment!I!have!ever!witnessed!and!for!myself,!is!a!firsthand!example!of!how!not!to!
manage!a!classroom.!
As!I!have!shared,!I!have!encountered!several!ineffective!teachers,!as!well!as!some!
teachers!who!were!very!effective.!!The!teachers!who!were!effective!always!had!a!flexible!
plan,!whether!it!was!for!the!day,!the!week,!or!even!the!semester.!!These!teachers!held!their!
students!to!high!expectations,!pushing!them!to!succeed!and!reach!their!academic!and!
personal!goals.!!These!teachers!knew!how!to!tailor!their!lessons!toward!each!individual,!!
and!how!to!effectively!manage!the!class!in!order!to!achieve!the!desired!learning!goals.!!My!
goal!as!an!educator!is!to!recognize!the!needs!of!the!individual!learners!in!my!classroom!and!
through!planning,!and!effective!classroom!management,!I!will!meet!these!needs!and!guide!
each!individual!to!both!academic!and!personal!success.!
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Bibliography

Eggen, Paul D., and Donald P. Kauchak. Educational Psychology: Windows on


Classrooms. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill/Prentice Hall, 2009.
Print.
Kopkowski, Cynthia. "Why They Leave." National Education Association. National
Education Association, 05 Apr. 2008. Web. 10 Oct. 2011.
Wilen, William W., Janice K. Hutchison, and Margaret Ishler. Bosse. Dynamics of
Effective Secondary Teaching. 6th ed. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, 2008.
Print.

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