At St Thomas More Catholic Primary School we have adopted the pedagogical framework developed by Robert J Marzano, and described in The New Art and Science of Teaching (2017).
This framework, meant to be viewed as a synthesis of strategies working within an instructional model, is an opportunity to effect substantive change in learning outcomes for students. At St Thomas More Catholic Primary School, this is reflected in our work as a Professional Learning Community. Our primary focus is on our students, and improving their learning outcomes.
The New Art and Science of Teaching Model is presented as a roadmap for teachers, informing instruction and planning, within three categories of teaching: feedback, content and context. Within these three categories are ten design areas:
Feedback: students must receive feedback
- Providing and communicating clear learning goals
- Using assessments
Content: students must receive meaningful content instruction
- Conducting direct instruction lessons
- Conducting practising and deepening lessons
- Conducting knowledge application lessons
- Using strategies that appear in all types of lessons
Context: students must have their basic psychological needs met-the context of learning
- Using engagement strategies
- Implementing rules and procedures
- Building relationships
- Communicating high expectations
Marzano has created an instructional model that ties together ‘strategies, pieces and points…in an interactive manner’ (Marzano, 2017, p.1).
Marzano clearly states that no one instructional strategy will have high yields for learning when taken in isolation and cautions that his instructional strategies are not designed for this.
The New Art and Science of Teaching is a synthesis of strategies designed to work together in an instructional model.
Key to understanding Marzano’s intent is the way he describes his model, and in particular, the way he talks about his choice of title:
…research and theory will never validate the notion that teaching
is simply a set of pre-programmed moves manifested as strategies.
Rather, instructional strategies are best likened to techniques an
artist might develop and refine over years of practice. The artist
uses these techniques to create works that are not only unique
and complex but elegantly focused. The more skill the artist
exhibits with available techniques, the better his or her creations.
(Marzano, 2017, p. 1, 2).
Marzano’s pedagogical framework sits well with the PLC model at St Thomas More Catholic Primary School, and offers a means and opportunity to effect ‘substantive change’ (p.9). Educators are challenged to make alterations to current practice and planning. Most importantly however, the focus must be on the student-their mental states and processes. The students are the true indicators that what we are doing is working.