32 Characteristics Of High-Performing Classrooms

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32 Characteristics Of High-Performing Classrooms: Spotting The Holes In Your Teaching

by Terry Heick

Instructional design is the strategic creation of learning experiences through intentional planning, sequencing, and data-based revision of learning.

This process includes both the ways content is accessed, and the learning needs and objectives (and how they are determined) themselves.

This puts instructional strategies, literacy strategies, curriculum mapping, standards unpacking, assessment design, digital literacy, and a dozen other facets of education beneath its umbrella.

With that in mind, we’ve created the following 32 characteristics of higher-level instructional planning to help you spot the holes in your teaching.

32-characteristics-of-high-performing-classrooms

Technology Integration

  1. Technology connects students with authentic content and communities
  2. Personalized learning experiences are achieved through a variety of mobile, game-based, or self-directed learning
  3. Technology creates learning opportunities impossible without it
  4. Technology is a means, not an end

Cognitive Demand

  1. Rigor is omnipresent, from bell ringers and quizzes to accountable talk and assessments
  2. Students generate original ideas from seemingly disparate sources of information
  3. Students consistently revisit ideas, thinking and general misconceptions (e.g., via digital portfolio)
  4. Thinking habits are valued over demonstrated “proficiency”

Lesson Planning

  1. Lesson planning templates serve student thinking, not district “non-negotiables”
  2. Bloom’s taxonomy (or related learning taxonomies) is/are used to move students from basic to complex thinking daily
  3. Data is applied immediately and meaningfully to revise planned instruction
  4. There is clear evidence of backwards design

Assessments

  1. Transfer is required to prove mastery
  2. Data is easily extracted and visualized
  3. The academic standard and assessment form complement one another
  4. There is opportunity for students to demonstrate what they do know rather than simply succeed or fail in demonstrating what the assessment asks for

Curriculum Mapping

  1. Curriculum naturally absorbs and adapts to data sources
  2. Curriculum map is dynamic, changing in response to data and circumstance
  3. There is clear priority of academic standards (not all standards are created equal)
  4. There is clear evidence of the Gradual Release of Responsibility model

Learner Choice

  1. Student questioning–rather than the teacher’s–drives learning
  2. The ability for self-directed learning extends beyond the topical, to assessment forms, research sources, learning technology, topics, and essential questions
  3. Learning pathways can be self-directed by ambitious, supported, and/or resourceful students
  4. Students recognize and can articulate their own role in the learning process at any given time

Classroom Management

  1. Expectations are clear 
  2. Discipline is a collective effort: peers, colleagues, administration, and family
  3. Fair doesn’t always mean equal
  4. “Behavior” starts with self-awareness and self-respect, which must be encouraged and modeled

Student Support

  1. Students have choice in demonstrating understanding
  2. There are exemplar models immediately accessible to students of all important work and activities
  3. Students are accountable to peers, families, organizations, and communities, not you
  4. Student literacy levels are meaningfully taken into account when planning instruction 

Image attribution flickr user flickeringbrad; 32 Characteristics Of A High-Performing Classroom