Best practices are called so because they have been proven to get results. But knowing that there are LOTS of them, is it realistic to ask that a teacher to have every possible best practice in every one of their lessons? No! It’s possible, yes, but definitely not realistic to ask of a teacher. Teachers need to figure out which best practices work for them and get the best results for their class and focus on those! However, in my opinion, there are a few best practices needed in every lesson, no matter what! Today, let’s break down that list of must have best practices and talk about why they are non-negotiable.
#1 Best Practice – Always have an objective
Objectives are the goal of the lesson or what you’re focusing on. It’s very important for students to know and understand specifically what I’m focusing on when teaching. The more specific you can get with your objective, the better. I also try to make sure my objective is written out visually and stated to them verbally throughout the lesson. Even having students state the objective with you to get them more involved helps too! Another reason an objective is so important is that it creates a muscle memory connection of actually DOING the activity along with the objective itself. So as students are practicing the content and hearing the objective being stated – they are connecting the two together in hopes that when they hear those words (objective) again they will remember how to complete the problem or questions from before. Many times teachers assume that students know what they are practicing on – stop assuming and focus on having a specific objective for every lesson!
#2 Best Practice – Always have an anchor chart
Whether it’s something you created in 5 minutes with clipart from Google or something you took time on and used your beautiful lettering skills (jealous!) – have some sort of visual or anchor chart for every lesson that you do! You are going to reach more students who have different learning styles by doing so. Also having an anchor chart helps students anchor their learning to the chart itself. Best practice is to make the anchor chart WITH your students, but I know that that’s not always an option. An anchor chart helps create a visual reminder for whatever the content is and the more you use it with your students and refer to it throughout your lesson, it’s engraining the content and learning in their minds in hopes that when they aren’t near the anchor chart but discussing the content, the visual is engrained in their minds to use in the future!
#3 Best Practice – Model during your lessons
By modeling I mean that you are completing a problem or a question from beginning until end for your students without their help. Make sure you’re not having your students help you during the model. Students need to hear your thinking to solve the problem or question from the beginning until the end to know what they should be doing when solving the problem on their own. All of the questions and interactions in the middle hurts their understanding the concept and puts it into pieces. You can break it down later, but when modeling at the beginning it needs to be uninterrupted modeling. Ask yourself questions out loud so the students know what kinds of questions to be asking themselves when they are solving independently.
Overwhelmed by which best practices there are and where to start? Download this amazing and *F*R*E*E* list of best practices and start by checking off what you’re already strong at. Then look at what’s left and you know what you can focus on and where you can grow! This comprehensive list of best practice is great to keep when lesson planning and use to think about how to best reach your students!
#4 Best Practice – Collaboration
In every lesson, there needs to be an opportunity to collaborate with other students, not just with the teacher. This needs to be MORE than just a turn and talk! At the end of a lesson if you can stop and ask yourself “Did I talk more than the students?” and if you answered ‘Yes’ to that – there’s a problem! We need to make sure they are talking more than us! We need to make sure we are giving them the opportunity to have time to process the content and their thinking without the teacher being involved. When you’re allowing them time to collaborate with one another then they are being time to process. Whatever guided practice or independent work they are doing, just make sure they have time to talk and process with others! Need help getting your students to collaborate? I have an amazing post all about building a culture of collaboration!
#5 Best Practice – Make sure you have an exit ticket
Having an exit ticket is CRUCIAL! If you do a lesson and don’t collect data at the end of that lesson – then why did you teach the lesson in the first place? You need to make sure that at some point you’re collecting data from your lesson. It can be as simple as having them whisper an answer to you, write on a post it note, have a 1/4 sheet of paper ready with 1-2 questions. No more than 3-4 questions tops! Make sure you have SOMETHING! When you do that you’re getting that data from your students, you have grouping strategies you can use, you know what misconceptions your students having and where to go on your next lesson. There are so many amazing ways to use exit tickets and their data! These are so powerful and we need to be utilizing that power in the best way possible!