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Research Spotlight on Teaching and Learning

NEA Reviews of the Research on Best Practices in Education

Found In: teaching strategies

Today, as educators feel the impact of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) on their teaching practice, they find it quite a challenge to remain true to what we know are exemplary teaching and learning experiences.

NCLB has forced many teachers to use prescriptive materials, particularly in classes or schools classified as "low-achieving" or "high-need."

Research shows that the demographics of these schools generally are similar: low socioeconomic community, large minority population, high mobility rate, many beginning teachers, and very little flexibility for the classroom teacher to practice what educators know creates a successful teaching and learning environment.

To reinforce what educators already know about teaching and learning, we have identified some attributes that describe what teaching and learning means for accomplished teachers. Accomplished teachers must:

  • Be prepared to teach in culturally diverse classrooms
  • Have an understanding of how people learn
  • Have a knowledge of subject matter
  • Know how to present content for different learning styles
  • Use various ways to assess students
  • Understand the power of mobilizing organizational change
  • Possess the skills to ensure students that they are in a "safe environment"
  • Understand how to utilize data
  • Have high expectations for all students
  • Be committed to their students and demonstrate this through their behavior
  • Have the ability to conduct "situational" audits and respond appropriately, without overreacting, becoming tense or stressed, while ensuring that students understand they are accountable for their actions.

These attributes are in no way a comprehensive description of effective teaching and learning, but a list to stimulate your thinking about it. Below are some resources (articles, books, and Web sites) with more food for thought about three areas: cultural competency, accomplished teaching, and demographic changes in the United States.

NEA Working Papers

  • Theories of Learning and Teaching: What Do They Mean for Educators? (PDF icon PDF, 478 KB, 32 pp)
    This report is based on up-to-date research about the learning process, the new concepts of learning and teaching emphasize "active construction of meaning," individual and collaborative work, use of student diversity as a resource for learning, and emphasis on both basic and advanced knowledge and skills. NEA, July 2006.

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