High leverage practices are the building blocks of teaching. They are used constantly and are critical to helping students learn important content. These practices are the foundation that supports students’ social and emotional development and supports a wide range of subject areas, grade levels, and contexts. High leverage practices not only help students learn, but advance skills in teaching (Teaching Works, 2016).
Teaching in the UAE brings with it the opportunity to work with colleagues and students from around the world. This greatly expands the opportunity to better understand education in a multicultural context and supporting learners who are Arabic and/or English language learners.
Following are some high leverage practices that are particularly valuable in working with second and multiple language learners in UAE schools.
Learning about students’ cultural, family, intellectual, and personal experiences for use in instruction. Teachers support student learning by actively learning about their students in order to design instruction that will meet their educational needs. They must understand the cultural norms for communication and collaboration that prevail in the UAE context to assure that engagement with students in the classroom is respectful and considerate of their backgrounds. Certain cultural and religious views affect what is considered appropriate and respectful engagement in school. Knowing their students allows teachers to select topics and issues that interest individual students and groups of students. Having an awareness of what is happening in students’ personal lives means that a teacher can respond appropriately when an out-of-school experience affects what is happening in school.
Explaining and modelling are practices that make a wide variety of content, academic practices, and strategies explicit to students. Modelling for students what is expected from them in the work or product expected, especially for new skills or activities, can be done by explaining and demonstrating the learning actions, sharing your thinking processes aloud, and showing good teacher and student work samples. Modelling promotes learning and motivation, and increases student self-confidence – they will have a stronger belief that they can accomplish the learning task if their teacher demonstrates the steps they are to follow.
Providing effective feedback helps focus students’ attention on specific qualities of their work; it highlights areas needing improvement; and outlines ways to improve. Good feedback is specific, not overwhelming in scope, focused on the academic task, and draws on students’ perceptions of their own capability. Giving skillful feedback requires the teacher to make strategic choices about the frequency, method and content of the feedback that takes into consideration the level of language proficiency and comprehension of the student.
Implementing norms and routines of discourse. Each discipline has norms and routines that reflect the ways in which people in the eld construct and share knowledge. These norms and routines vary across subjects but often include establishing hypotheses, providing evidence for claims, and showing one’s thinking in detail. Teaching students about the norms and routines of talk in each discipline, why the patterns of conversation are important, and how to use the language of the discipline is crucial to building understanding and capability in a given subject. Teachers may use explicit explanation, modelling, and repeated practice to do this.
A wealth of additional high leverage practices is available in the resources that are listed below. this article draws upon the work of:
Teacher Works, University of Michigan (http://www.teachingworks.org/work-of-teaching/ high-leverage-practices)
Hargreaves, A. & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school. Teachers College Press: New York.
Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. Routledge: New York
By Robin Dada
Robin is the Dean of the College of Education at Zayed University, the first internationally accredited teacher preparation program outside of the USA. She has been in the UAE for sixteen years. Her research interests include science education, school and teacher leadership, and educational innovation.