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Quality Teaching


Teaching is multifaceted. It’s complex. Each context is different: kindergartens, middle schools, universities, or private companies. Students are different ages and have “intelligences” and motivations. The particularities make a difference, too: time of day, length of the lesson, and the classroom furniture. And then there are delivery modes: face-to-face, synchronous, asynchronous, or flipped classroom. Multiply the complexity tenfold when a few of the students in the room speak the same first language and none of them speak the same language as the teacher.  

So, what is quality teaching? The University of Newcastle defines quality teaching. They propose three dimensions: Intellectual Quality, Quality Learning Environment, and Significances. To define good teaching in a more granular way, they specify six elements within each dimension. Over the past decades, they have watched teachers teaching, reflected on practice, and considered how pedagogical theories are realized in classrooms. Then, based on their model of good teaching, the researchers watch teachers teach. In real classrooms. In real time.  

The first dimension in the Quality Teaching Framework is Intellectual Quality. The focus here is on crafting lessons that engage the students’ brains to think deeply and conceptually about problems, to analyze language and texts (metalanguage), and to participate in sustained interaction with other learners. Each student’s brain is a magical, multimodal sponge. The teachers’ jobs are to captivate and develop students’ brains. It would be so much easier to ask students to memorize material. But after a year of good teaching, students should be able to recognize that they know more about the subject and that they have more critical questions about the same subject.  

The second dimension in the Quality Teaching Framework is Quality Learning Environment. The focus here is an environment that champions high expectations along with the necessary social and emotional support that children need to thrive. If the goal of education is intellectual autonomy (students thinking for themselves), then teachers are instrumental in shaping a classroom environment that promotes explicit and challenging expectations, while at the same time encourages students’ self-regulation and personal goals setting. The learning environment includes everything from the availability of technology to the community atmosphere in the room.   

The third dimension in the Quality Teaching Framework is Significance. Good pedagogy connects the students’ lives to the classroom in meaningful ways. Teachers draw connections between the students’ backgrounds and cultures to synthesize information with students’ experiences. Humanity can only benefit from graduates who realize the importance of culture and narrative as part of a strong knowledge base. This dimension also supports teachers’ efforts to include all students, regardless of race, color, or abilities in the learning community.  

While it might be difficult to define good teaching, the Quality Teaching Framework is a comprehensive description of good pedagogy. I suggest that you take a closer look at the Quality Teaching Academy. 

Author: Robin Gingerich, Ph.D., MA TESOL Program Director at LCC International University.

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