I remember reading a tweet a while back that mentioned that teachers should be using best teaching strategies in the classroom. I absolutely agree with the tweet. Best teaching practices should be something that school districts strive for, although I think the term ‘best practice’ often falls into the edubabble category and is used incorrectly at times. I’ve listened to the phrase being used in appropriate circumstances and I’ve heard it used primarily as a trump card to end education conversations. Regardless, the phrase is often utilized to convey that a particular research-based strategy will better your classroom.
Many educators have read the popular book called Classroom Instruction That Works. The book suggest that teachers use specific “high-yield” teaching strategies in the classroom. I’ve known educators who term the strategies as best practice since they’ve been researched and suggested by leaders in the field of education. After the book was published school districts started to use these strategies more frequently. I say frequently because I believe that some schools were already using the strategies before the book was published. Unfortunately, some schools were using the strategies as a form of a checklist, expecting to see the strategies in most/all classrooms. Morzano, one of the authors of the book, cautions that “A school or district that uses a narrow list of instructional, management, or assessment strategies will fall into the trap of assuming that all strategies must be used in every classroom.” I believe that many of the strategies are beneficial, but they shouldn’t be used as a checklist.
School leaders should look at incorporating better teaching practices in schools. Often school improvement plans are put in place to improve (better) a school in a certain area. Using the word ‘better practices’ communicates that there’s room for growth and innovation. All schools, administrators and teachers can become better at what they do. I believe that growth mindset should also apply to teaching practices. Moving from entire whole group instruction to differentiated instruction could be one way to move towards showcasing better teaching practices in the classroom. Empowering teachers and providing them with strategies to improve is essential, regardless if the strategies are termed best practice or not. Innovative educators have strategies or ideas that they use on a daily basis that might not yet be termed or published as best practices. Let’s move beyond the term and encourage better teaching practices in our schools.