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Your Career• 3 Min read

10th March 2023

The 7 Principles of Teaching – Engage Education |

There are seven principles of teaching that aim to improve standards, teaching and learning. Think of them as your seven commandments, they’re relevant in every learning situation.

What are the 7 principles of teaching?

The seven principles of teaching define what a good teacher should be, from providing feedback to communicating, these guidelines should be followed by teachers to become the best professional they can. 

The principles originated in 1987, from Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson’s book: “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.” This defined exactly what good education should look like and the principles are still being followed to this day.

Principle one: Encourage contact between students and faculty

Now it might seem obvious but building relationships and rapport with students is important, it’s one of the main factors in ensuring students succeed. There are many ways to open up the communication channels and build relationships between students and yourself, including learning your students’ names, personalising feedback on students work, sharing personal experiences (within reason!) and talking to your students on an individual level.

Principle two: Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students

When you encourage team collaboration and learning, learning is enhanced. Group work improves thinking, collaboration skills as well as social skills. Ways to introduce this into your classroom are cooperative learning groups, encouraging students with different socioeconomic backgrounds to participate in classes and introducing the idea of peer tutoring every now and again.

Principle three: Encourage active learning

It’s quite widely believed that students can only learn so much when they sit in a class and listen to a teacher, students need to make learning a part of their life. Simple ways to introduce active learning in your classroom could be asking students to present their work to the class, using ‘what-if’ situations to make students think about something different and giving students problem-solving tasks to complete.

Principle four: Give prompt feedback

The best time to summarise lessons and give feedback on work is when a subject or lesson is still fresh in your students’ minds. Feedback enhances learning as it helps your students identify what they successfully learned, and what they need to look at again. Great ways to help students reflect and learn on lessons is to follow up lessons with a summary of what should have been learned, Q&A style sessions and returning grades/marking within one week.

Principle five: Emphasise time on task

As we all know, we’re always rushed for time. Lessons range from 40-55 minutes, which means you need to introduce a subject, explore it, set some work around it and summarise in a short amount of time. Learning should be efficient. Simple ways to ensure tasks are completed efficiently are having realistic expectations, teaching time management skills and helping students set their own goals and timelines for learning and submitting work.

Principle six: Communicate high expectations

Students with little motivation, children unwilling to try and children that exceed all need to be set high expectations. Ways to set high standards are encouraging students to work hard in class, giving positive reinforcement throughout your lessons and working one on one with students that might be struggling to learn something. Encouraging students to focus on doing their best, instead of worrying about grades is a really important way to boost confidence and ensure high standards are set, too.

Principle seven: Respect diverse talents and ways of learning

It’s commonly understood that everyone has different learning styles, no two people learn something the same way. The best practice to ensure every student is covered in your lessons is to offer a range of activities that cover and complement learning styles. Encouraging students to speak up when they don’t understand is a good way to ensure no students are left behind.

These principles help you be the best teacher you can be not only for yourself but for your students.

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