Pedagogy for teaching: A classroom guide

Paul Main

Pedagogy for teaching: A classroom guide to developing effective learning practices that move students thinking forward.

What is a pedagogy for teaching?

The term 'Pedagogy,' refers to the strategy of how educators teach, in practice and theory. Pedagogy is shaped by the teaching beliefs of a teacher and relates the interplay between culture and a variety of methods of teaching.

Pedagogy relates to the study of teaching strategies and how they influence students. A thoughtfully considered and effective pedagogy is crucial for helping students to learn more successfully and in helping them develop high-order thinking skills. In this article, we are going to investigate the learning process and how it can be advanced using evidence-informed teaching strategies.

How does pedagogy affect the learning process?

The most effective pedagogies encompass a range of teaching techniques, including a detailed guide for teachers, structured and whole-class group work, guided learning, assessment practice and individual activity. These pedagogies focus on improving higher-order thinking and meta-cognition and make good use of questioning and dialogue in doing so. At Structural Learning, we try to steer away from teaching fads such as learning styles (it was once thought that children should be labelled a visual learner, a kinaesthetic learner or an aural learner).

Whatever learning environment you are operating in, it's good practice to utilise what research is available to us. We all share the same goal in enhancing the learning experience of children. Our focus has always been on developing deep learning experiences. This involves unpicking the learning process and designing effective teaching strategies that really get children thinking.

Teachers discussing pedagogy
Teachers discussing pedagogy

It might be that the learning environment sometimes restricts our ability to embrace what we know is the best teaching method. Schools are always pushing for time and busy timetables require organised classrooms that cannot always deviate or act spontaneously. We create learning resources that support active learning in the classroom. The universal thinking framework enables teachers to unpick learning tasks and carefully design learning strategies that scaffold complex classroom tasks. This type of pedagogical approach gets to the heart of student thinking. Deep learning comes from deep thinking, if the student is not engaged mentally then they probably will not be able to understand the lesson content.

How do we advance the pedagogy of teaching?

The Structural Learning community is very much a global community. Different school systems have different approaches such as project-based learning or direct instruction. Many schools have moved away from collaborative learning whilst others see this as an essential part of the educational experience. Whatever learning environment you are operating in, investing in the development of sound classroom pedagogy is essential.

The Rosenshine principles of instruction provided Schools with a list of modern teaching methods that were all evidence-based. These aspects of teaching provided classroom practitioners with solid guidance. His practices of teaching were well received within the profession of teaching as they weren't prescriptive. Every teaching situation could utilise these impactful approaches to instructional delivery. Traditional learning practices were quite rightly questioned with the release of this paper. Many inspectors favoured methods of teaching that were simply not well researched.

Guiding the learning process with graphic organisers
Guiding the learning process with graphic organisers


With the rise of organisations such as the Education Endowment Foundation, teachers can now make better decisions about the practices of teaching. Researchers such as John Hattie have been searching for an impactful approach that leads to lasting change. There will never be one single approach that works across all subjects and year groups. School success is built on a repertoire of solid teaching and learning practice, it's not just about effective content delivery.

To develop student understanding at a greater depth, we need to provide opportunities for learners to really grapple with the problem at hand. Our block building pedagogy enables students to piece together the educational content they are studying. By organising their ideas out in public view, we are building in formative assessments throughout the learning process. This method of teaching gives learners more control over their learning. These types of modern teaching methods need to be balanced with teacher explanations. Providing time and space for critical thinking is good practice but they need to be guided by an expert with sound subject knowledge.


Different perspectives of Pedagogy: Social Pedagogy

Social pedagogy provides a holistic way of dealing with children and their families in ways that help their growth, well-being, and education. Social pedagogy indicates that education is critical to the well-being and development of students. Therefore, in the broadest sense, these types of pedagogical practices are understood as forms of practice that support social learning and development in one’s life. By nature, students are social persons. But, they also need the education to express themselves effectively. Depending upon different cultural and social backgrounds, how public education is provided can differ from one country to the other country.

Examples of Social Pedagogy: An example of social pedagogy is, how countries are using social education to highlight the significance of things like kindness and empathy. Practitioners knowledge play a major role in using the right materials for students to explore at the right time in their development. Social pedagogy refers to the education system that deals with common social issues related to human needs, such as social inequality, its reasons and consequences for the residential children, who are a group of vulnerable children living with a group of other children looked after by the hired workers who are hired to work on a shift basis and live in the residential setting.

Children engaged in collaborative learning
Children engaged in collaborative learning

Critical Pedagogy

It is a teaching philosophy that persuades a classroom teacher to encourage learners to critique structures of oppression and power. A Brazilian educator and philosopher, Paulo Freire, is regarded as one of the founders of critical pedagogy. Freire believed that as the first step towards social change and liberation, oppressed people need to become critically conscious. He mentioned that the learners are not actively participating in their learning, in problem-solving or interacting; but they are mainly engaged in receiving, memorising, and repeating information.

Hence, Critical pedagogy is also considered progressive and even radical by some policy makers because it critiques power structures that are frequently taken for granted. Critical teaching aims to encourage students to challenge their ideas and thoughts, their practices, and their beliefs, to gain a deeper understanding and think critically.

Examples of Critical Pedagogy: Educators can incorporate critical pedagogy by using audio-visual material to encourage students to look at the causes and deeper meaning of everything from politics to war and religion; or by analysing and exploring power issues and relationships in their families. Students may also look for statements that are biased toward media and popular culture.

Critical teaching frequently depends upon the students' approach towards teaching, in which teachers uncover different strengths of students’ backgrounds, and nurture them to assure that students are confident to express their feelings, and accomplish their goals.

Developing critical thinking with the Universal Thinking Framework
Developing critical thinking with the Universal Thinking Framework

Cultural Responsive Pedagogy

Culturally responsive teaching considers cultural contexts. To apply culturally responsive teaching, teachers make changes in their pedagogical practice, after child observation, to suit the cultural needs of a child belonging to any specific cultural background. Sometimes the educational institute makes changes in its policies and procedures to facilitate more community participation.

Example of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy: A culturally responsive teaching approach encourages and takes into consideration diverse races, beliefs, ethnicities, and the background of students. The cultural responsiveness of a cooking lesson would be to provide access to video pedagogy to provide knowledge about the cultural cuisines in the course of the study. Cultural responsiveness of a political study would mean debates and analysis of a wide range of political topics, in various cultural contexts. In legal studies, it means to keep various cultural and religious beliefs and differences in view such as how different communities might view similar legal matters.

Socratic Pedagogy

Proposed by the Greek philosopher, Socrates, the Socratic pedagogy mainly involves the dialogue between the instructor and students. The teacher would ask students probing questions and explore the underlying beliefs that shape the perceptions and views of the students. There are 3 steps of the Socratic Method:

 1) The teacher would provide an initial description or opinion;

 2) Then, the teacher would ask a question to raise an exception to that opinion or description;

3) Provide a better opinion or description.

Using higher-order questioning for developing critical thinking
Using higher-order questioning for developing critical thinking

Socratic pedagogy includes a process in which learners can develop their psychological and social skills to become active members of a democratic society. Students get the support to challenge traditional concepts about knowledge, explore alternatives, and create educational knowledge using their experiential learning, ideas, and meaningful dialogues with others. Thus, the Socratic pedagogy curriculum will mostly include the anonymous peer review process, collaborative instructions, comparative context and thinking as learners explore established ideas with others to open their minds and develop a better understanding of concepts.

Example of Socratic pedagogy: Socratic pedagogy in Science or Mathematics can be seen when students look beyond the obvious to assess what and why a specific scientific or mathematical process is, and how is that applied in society. This type of discussion does not necessarily find a particular answer, but it raises new questions for the dialogue.

As an impact of traditional teaching of the past, most of the university students' class time was spent watching and listening to the professor lecturing. Also, in the previous or traditional forms of learning the learners worked individually on projects, and group work was discouraged. In current times, student-centered learning methods move the focus of activity from the instructor to the students. Student-centered learning enables students to build knowledge, as opposed to passively receiving it, and facilitate deep learning. Student-centered learning focuses predominantly on what the learner needs to do for learning a new concept, rather than on the curriculum content or receiving the information from the teacher.

While living In a multicultural society, the three dimensions of personal, pedagogical and work – institutional are used together to acknowledge and respond to cultural disparities between different learners, and to celebrate different methods and styles of learning. For embracing such a technique, the educator must be ready to accept the diverse nature of the multicultural educational practice and build an equitable and comfortable learning space for all students.

Moving teacher's pedagogy forward in your school

If your school is interested in exploring a new pedagogical approach you might be interested to have a look at our action research projects. The CPD program gives teachers the tools to document evidence of impact when trying out new teaching approaches. Whether it's a low-tech approach using a familiar teaching pedagogy or the utilisation of a new high-tech tool, the teacher's toolkit enables educators to make accurate judgements about the success of new instructional activities.

Primary and secondary schools have been utilising the process to build sustainable CPD opportunities that address all manner of teaching situations. This approach to the application of skills builds teacher confidence and advances career progression.

Pedagogy CPD for teachers
Pedagogy CPD for teachers