12 Principles of Effective Teaching

In some of my recent research activities, I ran across a summary of research on what makes teaching effective.  Not all teaching is created equal.  Some teaching is clearly more effective than other teaching.  Jere Brophy, a professor at Michigan State University, summarized available research regarding K5 – 12 schools.

© 2014 Phillips Academy Archive. Creative Commons. Click here for full citation (#26).

© 2014 Phillips Academy Archive. Creative Commons. Click here for full citation (#26).

The focus of the summary list of principles laid out by Brophy was effective teaching.  How does your teaching measure up to Brohy’s standards?

  1. A Supportive Classroom Climate – Students learn best within cohesive and caring learning communities.
  2. Opportunity to Learn – Students learn more when most of the available time is allocated to curriculum-related activities and the classroom management system emphasizes maintaining their engagement in those activities.
  3. Curricular Alignment – All components of the curriculum are aligned to create a cohesive program for accomplishing instructional purposes and goals.
  4. Establishing Learning Orientations – Teachers can prepare students for learning by providing an initial structure to clarify intended outcomes and cue desired learning strategies.
  5. Coherent Content – To facilitate meaningful learning and retention, content is explained clearly and developed with emphasis on its structure and connections.
  6. Thoughtful Discourse – Questions are planned to engage students in sustained discourse structured around powerful ideas.
  7. Practice and Application Activities – Students need sufficient opportunities to practice and apply what they are learning, and to receive improvement-oriented feedback.
  8. Scaffolding Students’ Task Engagement – The teacher provides whatever assistance students need to enable them to engage in learning activities productively.
  9. Strategy Teaching – The teacher models and instructs students in learning and self-regulation strategies.
  10. Co-operative Learning – Students often benefit from working in pairs or small groups to construct understandings or help one another master skills.
  11. Goal-oriented Assessment – The teacher uses a variety of formal and informal assessment methods to monitor progress towards learning goals.
  12. Achievement Expectations – The teacher establishes and follows through on appropriate expectations for learning outcomes.

Effective teaching does not happen accidentally.  To establish and maintain effective teaching in the classroom requires continuous planning and preparation for sure.  But evaluation of one’s teaching effectiveness is also helpful.  Brophy’s list of a dozen qualities of effective teaching provides opportunity for self-reflection.

Which of the above principles do you implement best?  Which should be the focus of self-improvement?  

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Brophy, J. (1999).   Teaching.  Educational Practice Series 1.  International Academy of Education and International Bureau of Education.  Retrieved April 2, 2014, from:


Edward is the founder and managing editor of Focus on Christian Education. He also serves as the Executive Director of the South Carolina Association of Christian Schools.