Learning comes first

A focus on the learning process is the most important factor in determining what excellent teaching looks like. Therefore, designing the learning sequence that students experience precedes designing lesson plans.

Planning a learning sequence requires empathy

Determining what activities are most useful at any point in the sequence is based on what a student needs. That is best accomplishedby leaving the teacher’s point of view and entering that of the student. Understanding the reality of a struggling student or a successful student at any moment requires an understanding of their emotions. What does it feel like to be panicking or to be bored?

A well-designed learning sequence serves every student optimally

It provides the appropriate level of challenge and support, regardless of the student’s level of readiness to learn. 

Good feedback is specific and timely

If it is too vague, it doesn’t help the student isolate the difficulty. If is too late, it undermines the motivation to learn from mistakes.

As many forms of feedback should be used as frequently as possible

Feedback should be ubiquitous in the learning process. Having it show up in a wide range of forms ensures that it will be useable for a range of students. In a high-functioning learning environment, feedback is woven into the fabric of every activity in small ways and large. It is informal and formal, it is verbal and written, it is between every person in the room and every other person in the room. It is the language a community of learners speaks.

Listening to feedback is essential for both you and your students

When you listen, you become a more responsive teacher. Feedback is your fundamental tool in responding to students’ learning needs. It also allows you to set the pace of the class appropriately. And students must listen to feedback in order to become self-directed learners.

The more you talk, the less they listen

Keep lectures simple. After ten minutes of your talking,  students should have an opportunity to actively process the new material. In general, lectures should be restricted to introducing work that students cannot effectively discover any other way.

The more you write, the less they read

As tempting as it is to spell out written instructions in great detail, keep it as concise as possible. To paraphrase Einstein, instructions should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.