History TA Website
Teaching Techniques for the Classroom
Contributed by Jillian Coats
Stephen D. Brookfield, "What It Means to be a Critically Reflective Teacher," in Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995), 1-27.
Brookfield challenges teachers to question their methods and assumptions in order to be more responsive to student needs and to their own professional development. He models the process by taking a number of common perceptions, beloved teaching styles and "common sense" techniques and reexamining them from contradictory perspectives. By encouraging teachers to analyze their own processes and experiences in this high-concept way, Brookfield encourages teachers to question their assumptions and alter their strategies if necessary to increase student learning and teacher well-being. Brookfield also makes teachers' mental health a priority by highlighting how this analysis benefits teachers by relieving them of guilt and shame associated with the disparity between assumptions and outcomes. This article provides both methodology and rationale suggesting the necessity of critical reflection.
Barbara Gross Davis, "Teaching Academically Diverse Students," "Leading a Discussion," "Encouraging Student Participation in Discussion," "Asking Questions," "Fielding Students' Questions," "Helping Students Learn," "Learning Styles and Preferences," and "Motivating Students," in Tools For Teaching (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993), 55-59, 63-95, 177-202.
Although there are several readings involving practical tips for encouraging student participation in discussion and addressing student questions available, Davis blends the theoretical with the practical and offers both advice on implementing her strategies and what students and teachers can potentially gain. She moves from general to specific, citing examples from scholarship and from personal observation. She also addresses lesser-explored situations, notably methods for managing an academically diverse classroom. Though the material on learning styles is less useful in a practical sense, it encourages teachers to be aware of the need for diversity of teaching methods to promote participation through different learning styles.
Kathleen McKinney, "Dealing with Disruptive Behavior in the Classroom," Illinois State University. Also online at http://www.cat.ilstu.edu/resources/teachTopics/classm.php.
All teachers worry about this eventuality, so a resource which details some practical steps to deal with disruptive students is essential as a best practice. McKinney's focus on prevention makes per piece especially useful, and she's careful to remind teachers that any suggestion is only as good as its context and must be adapted to fit particular circumstances. She emphasizes the need to rapidly curtail the disruptive behaviour in order to keep from "losing control" of the classroom. Although her material was written with a different academic community in mind, her suggestions are universally useful and range from behaviour contracts to physical cues such as standing near disruptive students to intervention techniques such as talking with the disruptive students after class.
David Raney, "Whose Authority? Learning and active resistance," College Teaching, Summer 2003 v51 i3 p. 86 (6).
Raney's discussion of authority in the classroom is not only readable, it is practical and thought-provoking advice on how to encourage and facilitate classroom discussion. Through a lens of authority, Raney uses a storytelling style to show the reader what a good discussion looks like and how to generate student interest and curiosity. Raney's concept of "active resistance" is student centered while remaining pedagogically sound. It helps to put the responsibility for learning back on the students while implicating the teacher in guiding them toward an assessment of ideas based on merit rather than source. Though presented through literature, Raney's concept of "active resistance" translates well to history due to the way in which historians must interrogate their sources and question the authority therein.
Mary Mortimore Dossin, "Why Won't They Talk?" College Teaching, Winter 2002 v50 i1 p3(1).
Sharon Coady, "Student Irresponsibility: We Helped Cause It," in Teaching College: Collected Readings for the New Instructor (1990), 27-8.
Robert Barr and John Tagg, "From Teaching to Learning: A New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education," (1995) available online at http://critical.tamucc.edu/~blalock/readings/tch2learn.htm
Sara Jane Coffman, "Ten Strategies for Getting Students to Take Responsibility for Their Learning," College Teaching, Winter 2003 v51 i1 p2(3).
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Last modified: 6/24/2008 8:15 PM