By Webster, Gail E.
Palaestra , Vol. 9, No. 3
What is an effective teacher?
What exemplary behaviors or attributes do teachers exhibit that make them effective? Is it personality, planning skills, methods of instruction, or something else? Administrators, teachers, and parents would be most likely to identify teachers they consider effective in areas of classroom instruction and management. It is difficult to pinpoint objectively what a teacher does that makes instruction effective. However, the bottom line for effective teaching is student learning (Borich, 1988).
McLeish (1981) states, "Effective teaching means structuring the lesson to maximize the amount of time in direct practice by each individual at a level which ensures a continuing development of the skill compatible with a minimal number of mistakes" (p. 29). An effective teacher has been described as one who finds ways to keep students appropriately engaged in subject matter a high percentage of the time and does so without resorting to coercive, negative, or punitive classroom techniques (Siedentop, 1983, p. 41). Although many behaviors appear to be specific to the situation or context, student opportunity to learn criterion material has been an indicator which discriminates between more effective and less effective teachers (Graham & Heimerer, 1981, p. 16).
The key to success would appear to be implementing teaching behaviors that provide a warm classroom climate in which students have many opportunities to practice at levels appropriate to their abilities. What should teachers actually do to provide these opportunities for students?
Very little research is available identifying teaching behaviors that are effective in adapted physical education or mainstreamed physical education settings (Vogler, Martinek, & DePaepe, 1983). After an investigation of teaching behaviors in an adapted setting, Taylor and Loovis (1978) concluded that there does not appear to be an appreciable difference in teacher behaviors when interacting with regular classes or classes comprised of students with disabilities. Similar conclusions were drawn by Mawdsley (1977) and Miller (1985). Thus, it appears acceptable to borrow effective teaching strategies from regular physical education teachers, as well as utilize those identified in adapted physical education literature.
Effectiveness is tied to student learning, but how is learning measured? It is difficult to quantify student learning in physical education because of the dearth of appropriate assessment instruments and/or lack of time to use the ones available Therefore, we often infer student learning from other measures. One of the measures is academic learning time--physical education (ALT-PE). ALT-PE is the amount of time students spend engaged in motor activity appropriate to students' abilities that results in a high success rate and low error rate (Siedentop, Tousignant, & Parker, 1982).
Teachers can improve their effectiveness (including an increase in ALT-PE) by addressing classroom management procedures. Effective classroom management consists of. . . . . .teacher behaviors which produce high levels of student involvement in classroom activities; . . .minimal amounts of student behaviors that interfer with the teacher's or another student's work; and . . . efficient use of instructional time (Emmer & Evertson, 1981).
Contexts within which students with disabilities are placed may have an impact on teaching and management strategies used by physical education teachers when planning for student learning. Students with disabilities may be placed in regular physical education classes (mainstreamed) or adapted physical education classes. Placement decisions are crucial to promote learning for students with disabilities. Appropriate placements must be made based on the individual student's needs and abilities which maximize opportunities for learning.
Once students are assigned, teachers cannot readily change the context of physical education class, be it adapted or mainstreamed. …