Effective Teaching and Pedagogy (page 2)
The dynamic of classroom teaching that is most vital to student learning is lost when classrooms function like cemeteries. The cemetery model of teaching enforces students' silence, solitary work, and permanent placement in an orderly arrangement of furniture, usually in rows and columns. This model has become emblematic of teaching. It appears whenever classrooms are portrayed in television programs and commercials. The model typically shows teachers standing in the middle of scrubbed and seated youngsters who look like the teacher and raise their hands, eager to participate. This view of classrooms lags behind current understandings of teaching and learning, and overlooks the rich diversity of students.
Teachers typically meet their students in numbers as large as their classroom will hold. Many of the students' home backgrounds and languages differ from those of the teacher. Classes include students who are poor, preliterate, and lacking in knowledge not only of the language of instruction but also of the expectations and procedures of school.
Increases in U.S. Minority Student Enrollment
The percentage of public school students who are minorities increased from 22 percent in 1972 to 43 percent in 2004, with the largest growth among Hispanic students. In 2004, minority public school enrollment, at 57 percent, outpaced white student enrollment, at 43 percent, in the west of the United States (U.S. Department of Education, 2006).
Regardless of how the student population changes, teachers use the knowledge and skills they have been taught. They frequently use instructional methods that focus more on securing students' immediate attention to content than on building teacher-student relationships that support communication and learning. They may implement a cemetery model in their classroom because they were taught that way themselves and believe it is responsible for their own academic success. Even when teachers see their students struggle with and detach themselves from learning, they may lack the skills needed to shift to another approach or they may find other explanations for students' failure.
Because teachers are typically highly qualified and proficient in their content knowledge, the skills they lack are usually related to the knowledge and application of pedagogy. When teachers understand and use pedagogy, their teaching has the flexibility to meet students' vast array of learning needs. This book discusses pedagogy and its role in effective classroom teaching. Pedagogy, as much as teaching, ensures that all students are assisted in learning academic content as effectively as they learn in their worlds outside of school. Pedagogy can guide teachers to organize their classrooms, design activities, and communicate with students to support learning, but it is also a system for strengthening teaching in order to produce learning outcomes for all students.
This book is about a system composed of five pedagogy standards. The system supports teaching that encourages students to learn through activity and dialogue. Each standard emphasizes a component of teaching, beginning with activity and then focusing on language and literacy development; contextualization; thinking; and most important, teacher and student dialogue on academic topics. Together the standards support classroom teaching by organizing lessons and designing activity that supports the use of a variety of effective approaches, particularly dialogue. The major benefit of the five pedagogy standards is that they encourage teachers to use the premier teaching strategy: instructional conversation.
Pedagogy is commonly used as a synonym for teaching, referring to all the educational functions of classrooms and schools. More specifically, pedagogy is generally described as the correct use of teaching strategies. Dictionary.com (2007) associates it with method, the meaning often given to another education term, instruction. For our purposes here, pedagogy is defined as the system of principles and methods that supports and facilitates effective teaching. It is also implied in the use of the traditional term instruction and in discussion of instructional approaches.
In the classroom, pedagogy is as visible as teaching. Research supports the importance of teachers having knowledge of pedagogy and using it in their teaching (Allen, 2003). A close look at the dynamics of classrooms reveals components of pedagogy that are distinct from teaching: teacher-student interaction, classroom organization, social arrangements of students, activity design, schedule, setting and context, and management. Together these components constitute pedagogy that has been little recognized for its potential to support effective teaching in any classroom. In the same way that content standards set goals for teaching, pedagogy standards provide a system of support for teachers in meeting their teaching goals. The five pedagogy standards offered in this book express the system as a set of principles to be applied in every classroom. These standards are based on scientific evidence, effective practice, and theory (discussed in this chapter) about what teachers need to know to teach productively.
Although it is highlighted less often than teaching, pedagogy always accompanies teaching. Ignoring the relationship between pedagogy and teaching is usually a disadvantage in teaching and learning. Pedagogy is present in and an influence on teaching and learning whether it is explicitly planned for or not. For example, every day many millions of energetic youngsters throughout the world sit still and quiet in classrooms, performing rote and abstract tasks for hours, reflecting pedagogy practice that most nations assume best suits their teaching goals. The inescapable influence of this approach ruled many of our own youths in cemetery-like classrooms that used transmission models of teaching. When pedagogy is ignored, it is still at work, exerting a powerful influence and producing unexpected outcomes. Note the conditions in our most blighted schools, where content focus is negligible and pedagogy is ignored: pedagogy is as forceful in creating chaos as it can be in providing structure.
Specifically, pedagogy supports teaching through the physical arrangements of the classroom, time scheduled, activity designed, relationships defined, expectations and values set, and participation structures imposed. Teachers use pedagogy to prepare and guide their own and their students' participation in teaching, learning, and activity performance. Because students' learning processes are better understood than they used to be, the value that participating in activity with others has in developing knowledge is clearer. This awareness encourages teachers to try alternative models of teaching. The ability to shift to such models relies on understanding pedagogy's role in transforming teaching. For example, the power that pedagogy has to transform teaching into teaching for success through activity-based and interactive models is dramatic. The following list contrasts pedagogy that supports traditional or transmission teaching with pedagogy that supports activity-based and interactive approaches:
Transformative pedagogy is recognizable by how it supports teaching. It transforms the types of tasks and activities students perform; the social arrangements they use; and the pace, suitability, and familiarity of students' classroom experience. Transformative pedagogy also provides a system of support in the five pedagogy standards, which teachers use to guide students through increased levels of interaction, activity, and production toward their learning goals. Just as pedagogy can at times be broader than how to teach, teaching is not exclusively about what to teach, although in most models curriculum is closely associated with teaching. Because teaching is the source of all decisions made in the classroom and responsible for all of the classroom's effects, it is broader than what.