Louie F. Rodriguez is a professor and the Bank of America Chair of Education Leadership, Policy, and Practice in the School of Education at the University of California, Riverside.
Teaching at any level is one of the toughest jobs out there. Today, teachers are increasingly faced with challenges that may bring one to question whether they should even consider entering the profession at all. Whether it is the ongoing need for substitute teachers as the pandemic persists, controversies over curriculum, the ebbs and flows of school policy and practice, or the day-to-day working conditions that impact teacher life, there is certainly no shortage of issues that confront the field.
These conditions can leave an educator asking: “Should I even teach at all?” “Is it worth it?” “Will these larger challenges impact the quality of my experience as a qualified, credentialed, and dedicated classroom teacher?” For example, will I, as a teacher, be able to use research-informed pedagogical approaches that I have been taught in my teacher-preparation program? Will I be able to inspire and mentor students and even use my own educational journey to engage students in the classroom?
While these concerns certainly bring a series of potential challenges, I often think about the powerful role that educators and teaching play in our society, especially in the context of the last two years. For example, we know that vulnerable communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic were already marginalized by social, political, economic, education, and health-related disparities before March of 2020. These realities make the promise of education and the role of the teacher and teaching so much more significant in today’s context, especially for our nation’s most vulnerable.
It is in this context that I developed 25 reasons to teach. Rather than allowing the possible obstacles to teaching cloud our perspective on why the profession is so vital today, let’s focus on the opportunities that teaching brings every single day to the classroom. I think this is particularly relevant for teachers starting a new school year, future teachers currently in teacher education programs, and future teachers who are considering the field of education.
As a current or future educator, your teaching will likely provide you with opportunities to do the following:
While it is understandable that teachers and some prospective teachers may be questioning—or even doubting the teaching profession—my hope is that current and prospective teachers realize that they are in the right place and that our students, families, and communities need them. Teachers cannot do this important work alone and our leaders, policymakers, and teacher development professionals play a critical role in ensuring their success, especially in the context of all that the profession is.
Several colleges have increased enrollment and reaped financial gains from using Rize Education’s courses in high-demand fields, largely overcoming faculty concerns about loss of control.
University buys assets of publicly traded Zovio to bring management of its roughly 28,000 online students in-house, citing online program management’s “inherent conflict.” Glad you finally noticed, critics say.
Two experts discuss the digital divide (including for adjuncts), the importance of training and how to ensure online education is a force for equity, not a deterrent to it.
Instructors’ awareness and use of open educational resources and their recognition of the efficacy of digital texts rose sharply this year, an annual survey finds.
As other public institutions seek to expand their offerings for place-bound adult learners, the formal end of the homegrown eVersity offers some lessons.
When effectively planned and used, PowerPoint (or similar tools, like Google Slides) can enhance instruction. People are divided on the effectiveness of this ubiquitous presentation program—some say that PowerPoint is wonderful while others bemoan its pervasiveness. No matter which side you take, PowerPoint does offer effective ways to enhance instruction when used and designed appropriately.
PowerPoint can be an effective tool to present material in the classroom and encourage student learning. You can use PowerPoint to project visuals that would otherwise be difficult to bring to class. For example, in an anthropology class, a single PowerPoint presentation could project images of an anthropological dig from a remote area, questions asking students about the topic, a chart of related statistics, and a mini quiz about what was just discussed that provides students with information that is visual, challenging, and engaging.
PowerPoint can be an effective tool to present material in the classroom and encourage student learning.
This section is organized in three major segments: Part I will help faculty identify and use basic but important design elements, Part II will cover ways to enhance teaching and learning with PowerPoint, and Part III will list ways to engage students with PowerPoint.
PowerPoint is especially useful when providing course material online.
Use of a light background with dark typeface or a dark background with a light typeface is easy to read in a large room.
Use clip art and graphics sparingly. Research shows that it’s best to use graphics only when they support the content.
PowerPoint’s Slide Sorter View is especially helpful to check slides for proper sequencing and information gaps and redundancy.
PowerPoint provides multiple options for print-based handouts that can be distributed at various points in the class.
Before class: students might like having materials available to help them prepare and formulate questions before the class period.
During class: you could distribute a handout with three slides and lines for notes to encourage students to take notes on the details of your lecture so they have notes alongside the slide material (and aren’t just taking notes on the slide content).
After class: some instructors wait to make the presentation available after the class period so that students concentrate on the presentation rather than studying ahead on the handout.
Never: Some instructors do not distribute the PowerPoint to students so that students don’t rely on access to the presentation and neglect to pay attention in class as a result.
Alley, Schreiber, Ramsdell, and Muffo (2006) suggest that PowerPoint slide headline design “affects audience retention,” and they conclude that “succinct sentence headlines are more effective” in information recall than headlines of short phrases or single words (p. 233). In other words, create slide titles with as much information as is used for newspapers and journals to help students better understand the content of the slide.
Avoid studying from the slide—reading the material can be perceived as though you don’t know the material.
PowerPoint can be used to prepare lectures and presentations by helping instructors refine their material to salient points and content. Class lectures can be typed in outline format, which can then be refined as slides. Lecture notes can be printed as notes pages (notes pages: Printed pages that display author notes beneath the slide that the notes accompany.) and could also be given as handouts to accompany the presentation.
Using PowerPoint can help you present information in multiple ways (a multimodal approach) through the projection of color, images, and video for the visual mode; sound and music for the auditory mode; text and writing prompts for the reading/writing mode; and interactive slides that ask students to do something, e.g. a group or class activity in which students practice concepts, for the kinesthetic mode (see Part III: Engaging Students with PowerPoint for more details). Providing information in multiple modalities helps Excellerate comprehension and recall for all students.
Providing information in multiple modalities helps Excellerate comprehension and recall for all students.
PowerPoint allows users to type directly during the slide show, which provides another form of interaction. These write-on slides can be used to project students’ comments and ideas for the entire class to see. When the presentation is over, the new material can be saved to the original file and posted electronically. This feature requires advanced preparation in the PowerPoint file while creating your presentation. For instructions on how to set up your type-on slide text box, visit this tutorial from AddictiveTips.
PowerPoint also allows users to use tools to highlight or write directly onto a presentation while it is live. When you are presenting your PowerPoint, move your cursor over the slide to reveal tools in the lower-left corner. One of the tools is a pen icon. Click this icon to choose either a laser pointer, pen, or highlighter. You can use your cursor for these options, or you can use the stylus for your smart podium computer monitor or touch-screen laptop monitor (if applicable).
You can make your PowerPoint slides, outline, and/or notes pages available online 24/7 through Blackboard, OneDrive, other websites. Students can review the material before class, bring printouts to class, and better prepare themselves for listening rather than taking a lot of notes during the class period. They can also come to class prepared with questions about the material so you can address their comprehension of the concepts.
The following techniques can be incorporated into PowerPoint presentations to increase interactivity and engagement between students and between students and the instructor. Each technique can be projected as a separate PowerPoint slide.
This technique provides visual interest and can include a series of questions for students to answer as they sit waiting for class to begin. These questions could be on future texts or quizzes.
PowerPoint supports multimedia, such as video, audio, images, and animation.
As with any technology, the way PowerPoint is used will determine its pedagogical effectiveness. By strategically using the points described above, PowerPoint can be used to enhance instruction and engage students.
Alley, M., Schreiber, M., Ramsdell, K., & Muffo, J. (2006). How the design of headlines in presentation slides affects audience retention. Technical Communication, 53(2), 225-234. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/43090718
University of Washington, Accessible Technology. (n.d.). Creating accessible presentations in Microsoft PowerPoint. Retrieved from https://www.washington.edu/accessibility/documents/powerpoint/
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 September 2022
This Element is a guide to task-based language teaching (TBLT), for language instructors, teacher educators, and other interested parties. The work first provides clear definitions and principles related to communication task design. It then explains how tasks can inform all stages of curriculum development. Diverse, localized cases demonstrate the scope of task-based approaches. latest research illustrates the impact of task design (complexity, mode) and task implementation (preparation, interaction, repetition) on various second language outcomes. The Element also describes particular challenges and opportunities for teachers using tasks. The epilogue considers the potential of TBLT to transform classrooms, institutions, and society.
Improve your teaching skills and get tips on how to teach with The Teachers' Room, our series of teaching tips to help you in the classroom. On this page you'll find a range of teaching techniques and ideas for your language lessons.
In each programme, Sian and Dan cover a key teaching point with all the explanations, examples and activities you need to become a teaching champion. subjects include how to teach reading, how to teach grammar, using social media, using cameras and much, much more.
How do we transform learning with technology while remaining focused on pedagogy? What steps can district leaders take in choosing tech that supports today’s instructional practices? How do we ensure technology connects students to engaging learning experiences?
Education leaders will answer these questions and more as we discuss how K-12 districts can craft a technology ecosystem that helps build connections with educators, students, and families and ensures teaching and learning always comes first.
You’ll gain insights into:
For all webinars broadcast by Education Week after August 1, 2019, Certificates of Completion are available to all registered live attendees who attend 53 minutes or more of this webinar. Educators can obtain a PDF certificate verifying 1 hour of Professional Development credit. As with all professional development hours delivered, Education Week recommends each educator verify ahead of the webinar broadcast that the content will qualify for professional development in your school, district, county, or state with your supervisor, human resources professional, and/or principal or superintendent’s office.
Source: Paige Herrboldt, used with permission
Colleges and universities all over the United States are striding through the fall term. Some are already at midterms, six weeks in. Others have just started within the last week. Millions of students are sitting in classes (yes, in person after some turbulent pandemic years) being taught by thousands of educators. Most of them probably share their views of class with friends and family. Whereas I touched on the history of evaluating teaching in a post here earlier this summer, this is a good time to take a further look at college teaching.
There is a very common way colleges and universities measure teaching. Most discussions revolve around the use of student evaluations of teaching (SETs). For readers outside of academia, note that when an instructor who is hired in a tenure-track job is up for promotion or tenure, external letter writers receive dossiers of information, also looked at by internal committees. For fixed-term instructors and for yearly evaluations of teaching, SETs are often the key. To fully capture the hard work that is teaching, we need to change how we evaluate and reward teaching.
Teaching is primarily discussed (when discussed) in the context of determining tenure or merit raises. Some faculty handbooks suggest evaluators complement SET scores with peer observation reports, self-reflections, and often a range of course materials.
What many of these processes miss, is that a good evaluation should serve as a vehicle for improvement. The process should help the instructor improve, help them help their students improve, and can help the department and university better fulfill their charge.
When one considers this major purpose of evaluation, one sees that overreliance on SETs, like overreliance on grades in the measurement of learning, is misguided. Alternatives to grading are receiving much-needed attention, as the “ungrading” revolution indicates (see Blum, 2021). It is time for the same revolution in teaching evaluation.
Most faculty handbooks describe what teachers should be doing. The language and aspirations are commendable, but they belie the fact that most faculty do not receive training in how to be effective teachers or how to document effectiveness.
Studies of exceptional teachers (Bain, 2004) and detailed examinations of the evidence of model teaching show that the fundamental hallmarks of effective teaching are clear: strong course design (assessments and course activities that map onto explicit student learning outcomes); clear, student-centered syllabi; instructor knowledge of content; the use of effective instructional methods (e.g., fostering active learning); and inclusive teaching practices. Some of these hallmarks of effective teaching can be demonstrated by a collection of course materials showing evidence of the practices used. Missing are adequate pedagogical training for these areas and effective ways to document them.
One feature insufficiently documented is student learning. While some handbooks may note that where obtainable, evidence of student learning enhances evaluation, this prescription rarely makes its way into the documentation process.
There is no one gold standard to measure effective teaching. While this may seem like bad news, it provides both faculty and administrators with the opportunity to focus first on what they find most important and then on how to assess it. Unfortunately, because there is no set standard, it is easy to overly rely on what is most commonly used to measure teaching (SETs).
SET scores are exceedingly easy to generate; perhaps one key reason they are so ubiquitous in higher education. There are also fraught with problems. While some SETs suffer from significant scale construction, validity, reliability, and response rate issues, it is also clear that a number of factors—such as course difficulty, the instructor’s race and gender, the instructor’s presentation style, and even chocolate—can influence them (Boysen, 2016; Carpenter & Witherby, 2020).
Though most universities still rely heavily on quantitative data from SETs, there are many ways to capture effective teaching (Bernstein et al., 2006). This said, it is rare to see universities have consistent (i.e., across schools and departments) multi-faceted measures of teaching. It is easy to understand why: Holistic pictures of teaching take time to put together and take time to evaluate. Often the knowledge of how best to do both is lacking.
Reality: Learning is complex. Students’ perceptions of their learning are also biased. Learning is difficult to measure as it is biased by a wide host of factors related to the student, the instructor, and the course. Instructor demographics and teaching behaviors and practices can easily influence perceptions of learning and instruction. This said, “teaching occurs only when learning takes place” (Bain, 2004, p. 173), so including measures of learning when evaluating teaching is critical.
Solution: Provide faculty with assessment know-how, and support reporting student learning outcome achievement, changes, and levels (Suskie, 2018).
Reality: Teaching excellence is contextual. What works at one university, in one discipline, for one level (first year, senior year), and for one group of students may not work elsewhere. This makes “best practices” a misnomer as practices may not be “best” for every context.
Solution: Provide faculty with course design know-how, and support modifying assignments and using different instructional methods.
Reality: Teaching excellence is not a fixed entity. Effective teachers need to be ready to change their practices and evolve to address different pedagogical challenges and external uncontrollable events (e.g., pandemics). This means it is unreasonable to set numerical quantitative benchmarks to assess teaching.
Solution: View teaching effectiveness holistically, providing faculty with ways to document their efforts and track and reflect on changes in student learning over time (see Bernstein et al., 2006).
Reality: Capturing effective teaching is challenging. It would be nice to have a quick, effective, cheap measure of teaching but it is difficult to get all three at once. Good measurement takes time and is not always easy. Faculty need to be given the time, resources, and incentives to engage in evaluation as effective evaluation benefits from training.
Solution: supply faculty funding to participate in workshops on good evaluation, and support them with well-staffed centers for teaching and learning.
A first step in the better evaluation of teaching is to reorganize our priorities for measuring teaching or, alternatively, be clear on all the benefits of measurement. If the goal of higher education is to help students be lifelong learners and gain the skills and knowledge to be happy, healthy, and responsible citizens (albeit only one set of aspirations), we need to help teachers help students learn.
Measures need to capture the fundamentals of effective teaching while providing easy ways to scale up the level of detail and complexity for those who opt for it. Most measures are self-reports where a faculty member reflects on their own knowledge, skills, and abilities, or can also be completed by students. Providing faculty with checklists of the fundamentals gives them a clear set of goals and benchmarks with which they can track their own progress and development.
Higher education needs to develop a culture of teaching excellence on campus. The effort to be an effective teacher is easier to expend when teaching is valued, rewarded, and seen as part of the fabric of the university. Some keys:
Quality teaching is critical to student learning. Faculty need support, training, and development to be effective educators. Let's do more to help them.
A longer version of this post was published in the Teaching Professor.
In this video grab Dr Winsome Gordon, head of the Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC), explains to Thursday's meeting of the parliamentary committee reviewing the JTC Bill that the conducting of professional appraisals referred to in the Bill was actually intended for master teachers only.
The Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC) will not be authorised to conduct professional appraisal of teachers, as set out in the controversial JTC Bill, a provision which was a source of much anxiety for professionals in the teaching sector.
The JTC will, instead, monitor the development of teachers, based on the standards set out in law.
The idea of being appraised by the JTC was met with apprehension by teachers represented by various groups over the months that the Bill has been before a joint select committee of Parliament for review.
The Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) had said that in addition to flying in the face of natural justice, being put in charge of appraisals will be a logistics nightmare for the JTC. The association said the JTC does not provide daily guidance and support to schools, and it disagreed with any attempt to interfere in that operational procedure.
Following a lengthy debate at Thursday's meeting of the committee, the decision was taken to remove the provision in law, which would supply the JTC the authority to conduct appraisals of master teachers.
It was initially understood that the JTC-administered appraisal system would apply to all teachers, but head of the JTC, Dr Winsome Gordon, explained that the conduct of professional appraisals referred to in the Bill was actually intended for master teachers only. She said these teachers are selected at the national level and would therefore have their appraisals done at that level every three years.
However, an about-turn was done on the provision after some members insisted that there was no need for this specific provision for master teachers, given that the JTC already has broad powers to monitor all teachers and ensure that they are operating within the ambit of the professional standards laid down by the council.
Member of Parliament (MP) for St Elizabeth South Western Floyd Green argued that further to that, the council has the authority to elevate some teachers as it sees fit.
"Nothing would stop the council from doing something of that nature. The powers are already there to monitor, evaluate and ensure that teachers are in keeping within the professional standards, which they can incorporate into the policy for master teachers," he stated.
Trelawny Northern MP Tova Hamilton agreed with Green.
Opposition Senator Lambert Brown cautioned against not making the distinction for master teachers, and suggested that the JTC's assessment role should be limited to monitoring the development of that cadre of professionals.
Dr Gordon explained that a major evaluation of the master teacher programme some years ago revealed that not all people so designated had remained in those posts, leading to the decision to have that cadre of teachers evaluated every three years. She said, ultimately, the JTC is only responsible for identifying master teachers, and the follow-up responsibility is then passed on to the education ministry, through the chief education officer.
She said the interval assessment is an evaluation of the master teachers, which takes into consideration their appraisal at the school level, to ensure that they are operating at the level of a master teacher.
"So it's really an evaluation of the master teacher and not an appraisal," she noted.
The master teacher programme emerged out of negotiations with the JTA in 1996, which established a national master teacher committee that comprises leading educators and master teachers. That committee operates under the JTC.
Teachers who apply for the master teacher positions are assessed, after which a report is submitted to the national master teacher committee, which decides whether the individual is granted master teacher designation.
These teachers are paid salaries equivalent to that of a vice-principal of the school where they work, and evaluated every three years to determine whether they are still operating at that level, in order to continue to be paid at that level.
If teachers are not found fit to continue as master teachers, based on their evaluation, the JTC informs the Ministry of Education, which is expected to take action, but Dr Gordon noted that for the most part, the teachers who have been found to not be functioning as master teachers are near retirement.
There are currently 32 master teachers working in the public education system.
Dr Gordon advised that the JTC is now expanding the programme, digitising the evaluation/appraisal system for master teachers so that it can now identify "more easily, teachers who are outstanding".
This video grab shows Trelawny Northern Member of Parliament Tova Hamilton participating in Thursday's meeting of the parliamentary committee reviewing the Jamaica Teaching Council Bill.
Language Teaching has received its highest ever Impact Factor of 5.327 and its highest ranking to date of 2/190 in Linguistics and 11/264 in Education.
2020 Journal Citation Reports, Clarivate Analytics
Language Teaching announces the award of an essay prize which honours one of the founding editors of this journal.
The winner will receive a £500 credit to be used to purchase books available in the current Cambridge University Press catalogue.
The winning essay - revised where appropriate in line with referees’ comments - will be prioritised for publication in the first available issue of the journal.
The winner will be nominated for a one-year period as a member of the Language Teaching Editorial Board and designated in all outlets of the journal as the “Christopher Brumfit Award Winner”.
An official certificate will be issued to the winner by the journal and Cambridge University Press.
Write an essay which presents an argument of relevance to second/foreign language learning or acquisition.