After reading domain three in Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework For Teaching by Charlotte Danielson, it is evident to note that the quality of instruction is of one the main components to student success. There are a number of factors that influence the quality of a lesson: a teacher’s questioning techniques, their way of communicating with the students, their way of engaging the student in his or her learning, their way of assessing the student during instruction, and their flexibility when a change in instruction is needed. Not only does the content of what you teach matter, but also how you teach it. After reading this chapter, I’ve realized that one of the most important factors of teaching is to engage the students.
Keeping a student engaged is, in my opinion, one of the most rewarding feelings for both the teacher and the student. When a student is deeply engaged, he or she is eliciting conservation, asking questions, maintaining discussions, and can even teach other students about the subject at hand. When students are engaged they are, “mentally involved in understanding important content; they are actively participating and are making genuine contributions to the effort” (Danielson, 2007). There is no question that instruction with active engagement is the best way to learn.
One way to actively engage a student is by eliciting discussions that consists of powerful questions. This way of teaching makes a significant contribution to student learning and is valuable for many instructional purposes. According to Charlotte Danielson, these instructional purposes include “exploring new concepts, eliciting evidence of student understanding, and promoting deeper student engagement” (Danielson, 2007). Teachers need to acquire skills in questioning that do not include low-leveled or boring questions. Teachers also need to ask higher order thinking questions; this way, students are encouraged to think critically. When this type of questioning takes place, students are more likely to make connections among previously believed, unrelated concepts or events, which will lead them to new understandings of complex materials. Teachers need to skillfully question to engage their students in critical thinking.
One idea that I greatly agree with is that “engaging activities” for students are not always hands-on. When using manipulates, students can be distracted with the materials instead of using them to solve problems. According to Danielson, mental engagement or “minds-on” activities are most beneficial for the students. Therefore, active mental engagement of all individuals, not just physical engagement, will challenge students to think broadly and deeply about certain subject areas.
Overall, instruction is the driving force for teaching. Without great instruction, students would not strive to be the best they could be. It is up to the teacher to motivate and encourage students to think critically about every new idea they encounter.
By Evelisse Mercado, Learning Specialist