The Art of Teaching

Introductory notes for the 5 Steps Academy teachers.

All 5 Steps Academy teachers, especially those applying to Cambridge Professional Development Qualification Program at 5 Steps, in addition to knowing and following the school policies, are expected to demonstrate understanding and evidence of implementation of the following key ideas in their everyday practice.

Content Mastery 

Content mastery means being able to explain a complex situation or idea in simplest terms, for example, breaking down quantum mechanics or mathematical equations to the degree that a third-grader can understand. Content mastery is a depth of knowledge where teachers are deeply knowledgeable about the intricacies of their subject areas. 

Master teachers stay up to date on changes in their field of expertise. For example, science teachers continually read science journals to further their understanding. Educators should also have real-world applications of their content, meaning it’s best for writing teachers to have some experience in writing. 

Teachers with content mastery also have subject literacy and fluency, meaning they can understand specific acronyms, vocabulary, and language-related to their fields of expertise. 

Classroom culture

One of the first and easiest steps towards building a positive classroom culture is having celebrations, whether birthday celebrations or the month’s student. 

Most students greatly appreciate field trips. Taking students out of the classroom and into the public demonstrates trust on behalf of the teacher. 

Classroom rituals work well in establishing a positive culture. For example, imagine a teacher who has a special handshake greeting all the students as they enter the classroom. 

The most important thing is to stop any instances of bullying in the classroom and have a zero-tolerance policy for student bullying. 

Overall, a classroom culture should be built upon respect for you, the teacher; do not allow your students to disrespect you.

Classroom culture should focus on and be built around the students. Remember, it’s their education. So get to know your students well and about them beyond academics.

Teacher-student relationships

An effective teacher-student relationship is arguably the key factor to student achievement, and clear communication is the cornerstone of relationships. Developing a rapport with your students is essential. Teachers that have a rapport with their students are able to open the doors of learning quickly. 

A teacher will have good relationships with their students if they work hard, care about their job, and accept your students for who they are and their faults. Maybe a student has terrible behaviour; we still care for the child no matter how difficult it is, try to find individual time for each student. 

Get to know students individually; that’s the only way you can really connect with them. 


There are many different assessments beginning with diagnostic assessments, usually conducted when students join the school. Formative assessments can be systematic and formal to track students’ progress, give them feedback and correct teachers’ plans to focus on weaknesses. Chapter tests are examples. However, formative assessments also can be as simple as checks quick tests or giving a thumbs up or a thumbs down to check if students understand the material of a particular lesson. Summative assessments are meant to be graded and measure the skills and knowledge learned over the course of several different lessons.  

Teachers must provide meaningful feedback to students on tests, not just “try harder” or “great job”.

Standardized testing is an integral part of education, and it helps track student performance longitudinally. Therefore, teachers must prepare students through standardized test-taking strategies. 

Classroom management 

The first thing a teacher must do is to set the classroom rules. About three to five rules are recommended, and they should be in the form of a positive statement. 

Provide fun and engaging work. Students will act out if they are bored, and if they are already having fun, there is no need to misbehave. 

Procedures must be put in place for simple things like using the bathroom (have a bathroom sign to reduce interruptions).

One of today’s biggest classroom problems is teachers that set rules and expectations but do not deliver consequences for misbehaviour. Consider yourself as a referee. Things will get a little crazy at times but maintain your composure, don’t get rattled; teachers must stay calm in order for their classroom to remain calm. 

Take an empathetic-authoritative approach which means having high standards while being emotionally responsive to your students.

Behaviour intervention is used when general classroom management practices are insufficient. Behavioural assessments and behaviour intervention plans are collaborative efforts of the school and families to help replace negative behaviours with positive ones. In some cases, therapy may be needed and a school-wide approach using positive rewards for good behaviour.

Lesson planning

It begins with writing lesson objectives. Objectives must be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Teachers must specify the concept and goals of today’s lesson. Measurable, for example, students will add fractions with 80 per cent accuracy. A golden rule here is to set challenging yet achievable objectives (within the student’s Zone of Proximal Development). The R stands for relevant, and, if possible, teachers must try to connect the lesson to the real world; students love real-world connections. Writing lesson objectives must have a set time constraint, such as read an entire paragraph within 10 minutes. 

When planning lessons, there are several required components. All lesson plans should be based on the syllabus standards. Standards are what students are expected to learn. Next, there should be a plan for the day. Maybe it begins with key questions, then a lecture followed by a quiz. Next, the types of activities must be described. If using groups, teachers may plan groups in advance. Any assessment that is to be given should be included in the lesson plans. It would help if you always planned your quizzes and chapter tests in advance. Differentiation, while time-consuming, is a necessary part of lesson planning; not all students are on the same level, and teachers need to plan for that. 

Planning for cognitive rigour 

Teachers may utilize Bloom’s taxonomy framework in an effort to ensure their students are learning with a high degree of cognitive rigour. Bloom deBloom’s low-level learning as remembering basic knowledge and high-level learning as things like evaluation and synthesis, similar to Webb’s depth of knowledge, routinely used to assess the cognitive rigour of questions used on classroom assessments. As an added stWebb’s, teachers can use questioning techniques to probe their students with critical thinking questions, requiring students to expand on knowledge. 

How can teachers develop their lesson plans? First, begin using schedules and calendars with testing dates, the part of the syllabus to cover before tests and students’ speed in mind. Priority standards, topics and skills must take precedence. One of the most important things to do is to add variety to lesson plans. It shouldn’t be the same every day: lecture – worksheet, lecture – worksheet; it’s just too dull.

Room design

Having proper spacing is a top priority of today, with social distancing rules being put in place. All students must be aware of safety procedures. Not all students have additional educational resources, such as pens, pencils, calculators, rulers, protractors etc.; please have those resources available for students. Proper lighting is quite important, especially for students with impaired vision.

Student engagement 

Students first must pay attention before they can learn anything. One strategy to increase student engagement is to offer choice assignments. Another is anticipatory sets: students are given a relevant question story or an anecdote to hook them into the lesson. Gamification is a strategy where teachers create a competitive atmosphere in an effort to motivate students. And the most obvious way to excite your students is to plan a fun and exciting lesson: examples include science labs, social studies, debates. 

Teaching strategies 

One of the highest yield strategies in teaching is teaching through similarities and differences, using diagrams to compare. Using analogies and metaphors are another way to compare and contrast. When teaching with images or graphic organizers, information is dual encoded in the brain, stimulating both the written part and the visual aspect of learning, making it a very effective technique. 

Student-centred active learning (think-pair-share, debates, questioning, problem-solving, etc.) instead of passive learning forces students to actively take part in a lesson rather than just sit back and listen to the lecture. Hypothesizing: students are required to think ahead, and they must first analyze the current situation. These are just a few recommended teaching and strategies. Explore and experiment. 

Differentiation of instruction 

Where lessons are tailored to students, the premise of differentiated instruction is that all students deserve challenging yet achievable work. Differentiation of content (simple – more detailed version), differentiation through the process, learning environment may be altered to benefit individual students. One example would be to provide preferential seating to students in need or to use different types of learning models.

Learning models

Flipped classroom model with the flipped classroom students view the content at home through videos or reading articles and then do the homework in the classroom with the teacher assisting them. Personalized learning model this model focuses on individualized instruction and an individualized learning environment for the student. Inquiry-based learning begins with a question posed to the students before a lecture on the content; students must investigate and solve the problem themselves using their own means. Project-based learning students acquire knowledge through active investigation of real-world problems, and they build projects to solve those problems. 

Professionalism in teaching 

Master educators continually attend professional development just like you’re doing here by reading this text in an effort to master your craft. Being professional also includes having ethical integrity. Remember: teachers are role models for their students and representatives of the community. Teachers must do the right thing during challenging times. Being professional at work includes doing little things such as showing up on time and being appropriately dressed. Teachers expect students to be on time, so teachers must also be on time. The best teachers take their time to reflect on their lessons, overall academic student progress and the advancement of their teaching careers. Being organized is a big part of being professional. 

Professional teachers read the school policies and follow school policies. Remember that you are a teacher, and you’re part of a larger school community. To become an integral part of the community, teachers must develop strong relationships with parents their students; you’rearents have a lot of influence on their kids, so get them on your side. Avoid getting political and focus on positive change that centres around your students and your school community. 

Special education needs 

Each student is unique, but some students need more attention from teachers. Reducing homework, adding extended time, breaking down the content into smaller components, using repetition, varied presentations etc., may be helpful. 

English as a second language learners 

When teaching ESL students, speak very slowly and calmly, remember these students are in the process of learning, so don’t rush your words. ESL teaching strategies include Total Physical Response (pointing to objects), increased wait time, sensory activities, oral presentations. The most significant factor towards ESL student success is the degree to which the parents or guardians are involved in their education. Find ways to involve ESL parents. 

Be real with your students; don’t ever pretend to be something that you’re not. Don’t try to get them to like you. Just be yourself, and you’ll be respected. Second, you have to genuinely care about your students to connect with them. Mr Miyagi said there are no bad students, only bad teachers. Third, make friends with your co-workers. Lastly, follow the rules. Too many new teachers trying to be rebels and it leads to them get into trouble, they get fired. Follow the rules, follow the above tips and you will have a wonderful career!

Thank you and good luck with your teaching care!