Three Practices to Avoid in the Classroom

There are a few practices many teachers use in their classrooms to drive their instruction that evidence would advise they not do. Unfortunately, they are quite popular among professional development opportunities (especially in the US) and are proliferated quite often on social media by a host of major education outfits and teachers/presenters/consultants. These practices have gained popularity and have a hold on how teachers think about and instruct their students.

You may read some points counter to your beliefs. Kudos for having a go with potentially dissonant information. So, without further ado, here are three practices to avoid in the classroom:

1. Teaching to students’ preferred learning style.

While this may be something you learned about while working towards your teaching degree, there is no evidence that assessing and teaching to one’s learning style is effective. In fact, some research has shown a decrease in achievement when doing this. Here are a few of my blogs that speak to this:

2. Teaching according to the statistics on the learning pyramid.

Again, you may have encountered this popular image while earning your teaching degree or during professional development opportunities. Unfortunately, there are no studies or research to back these statistics. They are fabricated and really mislead teachers, students, and administrators about how we learn and what we retain. For much more on this, check out the following blog:

3. Believing ‘engagement’ is about physical movement.

Engagement is quite the popular buzzword these days in professional development and on social media. Unfortunately, I often see it mischaracterized or just used incorrectly. Engagement is a cognitive endeavor. Engagement is what the brain attends to. It doesn’t matter how much you’re moving around the classroom, if the brain isn’t thinking about the material at hand, there will be no retention of that material. For more on engagement, please see this blog article:

So, there you have it, three practices to avoid in the classroom. I hope you have some things to consider…and maybe you’ll even change up how you view learning in the classroom and modify your instruction.

I’d love to know your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment below.

7 thoughts on “Three Practices to Avoid in the Classroom

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  1. It would be more correct to write: Teaching to what students prefer. There are no styles so you can’t teach to a preferred style. You can only determine what they prefer and this says absolutely nothing about (1) if they actually do that and (2) if it has any effect.

  2. So torn by knowing what some administrators want to see. I’ve taught in a school in which learning styles was literally part of its official inclusiveness statement as well as a formal part of evaluative observations. It can sometimes be career-limiting to point out the emperor’s state of dress.

  3. Spot on. Personal favourite is people thinking “active learning” is when children are jumping about in class. Thank you for the references too!

  4. The learning pyramid looks so colourful and dynamic. I’d say it fools lots of people into thinking it’s research-based and accurate. So much misinformation out there!

  5. Totally agree but physical activity is how we assess engagement. You have no way to know what’s going on inside a student’s head unless the do something (talking, writing, pointing, are all examples of doing something). The key is to pick the behaviors that best indicate engagement with the topic.

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