Even When They “Know” the Best Approach, Effective Teachers Develop, Use, and Refine Many Strategies

Your experiences in the field will serve you well as you teach. Your examples and stories will help your students understand the context of the ideas they study, see connections, and they will make your class more engaging and effective. Your experiences will limit you, also. We all adapt to the culture in which we work and the training we receive; recognize those effects and avoid excessive focus on your recollection of your own past as a learner as you develop and deliver lessons. Further, recognize your field continues to emerge. Regardless of the level of expertise you have and the degrees you have earned, you cannot accurately predict what your students will need to know to be successful in their futures. 

As an instructor, you must provide different opportunities for learners to engage with the curriculum. Just because a lesson would work for you does not mean it will work for every student. When a lesson “doesn’t work,” the problem is neither your students no your lesson, it is the connection between the two. Good teachers recognize this and address it. Great teachers recognize and address it and perceive that as an opportunity to learn about teaching and their field.  

Another of the most important lessons to learn about teaching is that learning happens when students integrate new knowledge into their existing knowledge (which obviously changes their existing knowledge) and learning happens when students perceive the new knowledge as relevant to their lives. Teachers who approach their curriculum in a context-rich manner—those who study problems in real-world setting and who include authentic assessment and otherwise reflect complex problems in their lessons tend to graduate more knowledgeable students. This also requires on-going development of lessons and activities.