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Personal Relationship Building

Classroom Climate

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Assessment Differentiated Instruction

Planning Objectives

Curriculum Design

Overarching Objectives


Instructional Strategies




Figure 2.4 Abstractions



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Because teaching combines these eighteen areas of performance, it is important to recognize how they are related to each other. Some of the areas of perfor- mance have specific skills associated with them. We call these skills moves be- cause they represent a brief action or a remark. Moves are quick, discrete, and observable behaviors. They can be counted if you so desire. Many teaching skills can be explained in terms of moves (Figure 2.2).

Other areas of performance involve teaching skills that are more pattern like (Figure 2.3). They can’t be performed or seen quickly. An example would be implementing a model of teaching. For instance, a teacher skilled in using Taba’s (1962) nine-step inductive model orchestrates a series of events and fol- lows certain principles for reacting to students. The performance unfolds over time according to a certain regular and recognizable pattern. Being able to per- form the pattern is the skill. It’s a cohesive, planned package that is greater than the sum of its discrete parts. Skillful teachers understand moves as stand-alone actions and patterns of moves that make sense only when viewed as purposeful packages.

Some of the important things teachers do skillfully are hard to see at all. These skills include choosing objectives, designing learning experiences, organizing curricula, and assessing student learning. These areas of knowledge and skill are abstractions (Figure 2.4). The connections between actions and decisions become clear only over longer stretches of time or in conversation with a teacher because they are driven by big-picture blueprints (overarching objectives, curriculum maps, etc.). They are practiced before school, during planning, or after school while respond- ing to students’ work. Although not directly observable, they nevertheless shape and account for what is going on in a classroom at almost all times. These areas of performance are found in Curriculum Planning.


Readers wishing to know the relationship of The Skillful Teacher Framework to widely used teacher evaluation rubrics can download detailed crosswalk documents from The Skillful Teacher website (www.RBTeach.com/TST7). The following crosswalks show which chapters and pages in The Skillful Teacher de- scribe behaviorally the looks-like and sounds-like of various elements in the rubrics:

Three kinds of knowledge— moves, patterns, and abstractions— comprise skillful teaching.



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p Crosswalk aligned to Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching

p Crosswalk aligned to Kim Marshall’s Teacher Evaluation Rubrics

p Crosswalk aligned to Robert Marzano’s Teacher Evaluation Model

p Crosswalk aligned to the Massachusetts Model System for Teacher Evaluation

p Crosswalk aligned to David Rose’s Universal Design for Learning


Part One of The Skillful Teacher explores the Foundation of Essential Beliefs. Part Two addresses the Management areas of performance—those most pressing and immediate needs for many teachers. Part Three address- es Instructional Strategies. Part Four tackles Motivation. Part Five examines Curriculum—the design skills for decisions about what education is for, what shall be taught, and how to know if it has been learned. Thus the chapters move from the specific and discrete to the complex; from those parts of teaching that are moves, to patterns of moves, to decisions about design. Each chapter ad- dresses a different area of performance. We frequently start by describing why the area of performance is important and how it relates to the bigger picture of teaching and learning. Then, we define concepts and categories useful for understanding the area of performance and look at each category to lay out the repertoire of ways teachers handle pertinent situations. We do this with examples as often as possible. Next, we usually examine what is known about matching teacher choices to students, situations, or curricula.

It is not absolutely necessary to read the chapters in order, but there are certain cumulative benefits that make that desirable. Good discipline, for example, builds on a foundation of teacher skills with Attention, Momentum, Expecta- tions, and Personal Relationship Building. A teacher who is struggling with a difficult class can turn to the chapter on discipline, which has references back to specific management, instructional, and motivational areas of performance, and are the first places to check when working with very challenging students.

Even experienced teachers should check their skills against the repertoires available in each area of performance to see if there are ways to add to their range, effectiveness, and ability to match the diverse needs of students in their classrooms.

Video: All areas of performance impact learning

Crosswalk Rubrics




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How Do We Define a Skillful Teacher?

p Skillful teachers are aware of the complexity of their job and work to be conscious and deliberate about what they do.

p Skillful teachers want to control and regulate their teaching to have a positive effect on their students.

p Skillful teachers are clear about what is to be learned, what achievement means, and what they are going to do to help their students attain it.

p Skillful teachers are learners.

The Skillful Teacher Framework Encompasses These Areas of Performance:

1. A Foundation of Essential Beliefs: School, Cultural Proficiency, and Anti-Racism

2. Management: Attention, Momentum, Space, Time, Routines, and Discipline

3. Instructional Strategies: Clarity, Models of Teaching, and Principles of Learning

4. Motivation: Classroom Climate, Personal Relationship Building, and Expectations

5. Curriculum: Curriculum Design, Lesson Objectives, Planning, Differentiated Instruction, Assessment, and Overarching Objectives




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Part 1 Introduction to Essential Beliefs

Essential Beliefs Introduction

The Skillful Teacher is a book about how to make the knowledge base of teach- ing more accessible. It is also about teacher learning and is a resource for it. There are certain beliefs about children, about professional learning, and about schools that bear heavily on a teacher’s willingness to learn, and what it is he or she feels impelled to seek to learn. Without these beliefs, teachers are not com- mitted to stretching themselves to acquire the expertise that none of us starts with. Beliefs drive behavior, are often unexamined, and are resistant to change. Without understanding one’s beliefs, it is impossible to understand one’s atti- tude and motivation to learn new skills and approaches to teaching.

Chapter 3: “Schooling” takes on beliefs about the nature of profes- sional teaching knowledge and describes how this view influences the way “Adult Professional Culture” develops. Also in this chapter are es- sential beliefs about the learning environments we create for students, and the impact those environments have on student learning. Finally, we discuss teacher efficacy and how important our own beliefs are about what is possible for us to accomplish, even with students who are discouraged and far behind academically.

Chapter 4: “Cultural Proficiency and Anti-Racism” separates out, for special treatment, our beliefs about the need for culturally proficient instruction in our classrooms and active anti-racism in our stance. In this chapter, we trace the similarities and important differences be- tween cultural proficiency and anti-racism.

In these two chapters, we push back against beliefs that stand in the way of teacher learning. In particular, we push against the beliefs that there is no es- tablished knowledge base on teaching, that improving schools requires noth- ing more than recruiting superior people who know their content, and that teaching knowledge consists of a prescribed set of effective behaviors. These beliefs devalue the complexity of the profession and hobble teacher learning. Unfortunately, they are widespread and articulated frequently from pulpits of high visibility.

Beliefs drive behavior, are often unexamined, and are resistant to change.




3. Schooling

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Essential Beliefs:

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