What is High-Quality Teaching?

What is High-Quality Teaching, why does it matter, and how’s it different than best practice? Really. In a practical sense.

This was the topic of #822chat during the month of October, and many educators gave amazing insights.

High-Quality Teaching Defined

High quality teaching has many characteristics. Among the top are:

  • Student Control
  • Student Exploration
  • Student Creation
  • Student Collaboration
  • Teacher Collaboration with Students

The topic is high-quality teaching, but it’s really about what students are doing!

According to AJ Bianco, “High quality teaching puts students in the driver seat and allowed them to explore, create, and collaborate with their teachers and classmates.”

If high-quality teaching is about the students, then it’s about individuals. This might mean moving away from standardization.

“I’m learning how to escape the standardized testing routines of my English classroom and embrace a more thematic and project-based approach to unit planning. Week one was messy, but it resulted in incredible student conversation and innovation!”
– Cara Stombock @StombockCara

Why Does High-Quality Teaching Matter?

There’s an obvious answer to this. We’re talking about education here. But there’s also a nuanced deeper meaning behind high-quality teaching.

In one example it meant going outside and connecting to real-life experiences.

Madi Ross explained her experience observing students who, “…built their own shelters while learning about direction and how to survive in an emergency situation.”

High-quality teaching matters because it connects real humans with real-life. These connections are meaningful. They are powerful.

Usually, it results in students who are excited to share what they are learning.

“I had a high-quality teaching experience that happened today. My kids are in the research phase of a PBL. As things got rolling, Ss started trouble-shooting with each other. One wanted to share how to do an advanced Google search. So he did.
– Abigail French @awfrench1

High-quality teaching simply results in high-quality learning.

And that’s priceless.

But What About Best Practice?

Is best practice the end-all of teaching? Does best practice define the boxes in which learning occurs?

Of course not.

Best practice is a starting point. It’s the common knowledge of what works well in most cases.

Innovation usually happens on the fringe of best practice – in that fringe of creative conflict.

High-quality teaching is distinct from best practice because it’s about the moment. It’s about what these students need at this particular time.

In this regard, it’s responsive. Maybe you’ll see best practices. Maybe you’ll see fresh innovation. Mostly you’ll see engaged learners.

Engaged learners feel safe. They don’t take risks because they don’t feel a risk. They don’t feel the fear of failing. As Carla Meyrink tweeted, “I’d like all students to feel safe in school so that they can take the risks necessary to keep learning and growing.”

They know they’re viewed as whole learners, not mere test scores.

“I love watching all the teachers at our elementary school implement social and emotional learning into their everyday routines – greetings at the door, morning meetings, closing circles… The kids feel so individually welcome and appreciated.”
– Monica Gupta Mehta @monicagmehta

High-quality teaching takes time to value social, emotional, and academic learning.

Your Turn

Who do you know that practices high-quality teaching? Why does high-quality teaching matter in your life? What are you doing to create conditions for high-quality teaching to exist?

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