As we wrap up the first week in Survey of Instructional Strategies, the class readings and discussion provided a great overview of what it means to be a good teacher. Although it may not have been originally designed in this manner, I interpret this information to be all the various sources that lead to good teaching. So what does this mean? I believe that there isn’t one instructional strategy provided by Marzano that should be used much more than any other. The key to good teaching is using the variety of strategies effectively to engage students in material and push them to think critically, especially at the high school level. In the same way, a teacher should pick and choose aspects of the various philosophies of education as outlined in Jeanine M. Dell’Olio and Tony Donk’s book Models of Teaching. To stick exclusively to one type of philosophy does not make an effective teacher who makes a positive impact.
In reflecting on my three years of experience as a Social Studies teacher at Seattle Prep, I can see my own philosophy embedded in almost every philosophy outlined in the Models of Teaching text. There are times I find myself sticking to the academic rationalism approach (Dell’Olio, 29) and ensuring students understand content, especially with my freshmen taking Western Civilization. However, I rarely stand at the front and lecture. I tend to look to the maieutic method while providing questions and cues as Marzano states in his text Classroom Instruction that Works. As both texts state, higher level questions provide students with the opportunity to analyze information and come to their own conclusions on significance (Marzano, 112, Dell’Olio, 30). This is vitally important in a history classroom. I refuse to allow my students to be passive learners. I constantly ask them “so what”? Why does it matter that Sparta treated women better than Athens when comparing city states in Greek civilization? Why does it matter that the North won the Battle of Gettysburg?
At other times I look toward the cognitive processing model of teaching students how to learn or how to think (Dell’Olio, 31). In many ways, this is essential to a Jesuit education. We strive to graduate students who embody the profile of a graduate at graduation which means they are intellectually competent, open to growth, loving, spiritually alive, and committed to justice. For students to reach this profile, they must learn how learn not just content. This is essential. At the same time, I believe I must develop positive, healthy relationships with students in my classes. This fits right in with the self-actualization philosophy in which I take into account the affective domain or feelings and beliefs of my students before I ever reach content or skill development (Dell’Olio, 37). And the list goes on and on. To be the most effective teacher possible, I cannot limit myself to one philosophy or one instructional strategy. I must utilize them all at the right moments so that my students are positively impacted as much as possible. I do this by listening, being attentive, asking questions of students and other teachers and being open to growth myself. It isn’t a static process; it is ever dynamic and I love every minute of it.
Dell’Olio J.M.. & Donk. T. (2007). Models of Teaching: Connecting Student Learning with Standards. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Marzano, R.J., Pickering, D.J., & Pollock, J.E. (2001). Classroom Instruction that Works. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.