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Dr. Marzano Addresses the Critical Need for a Robust Model of Instruction

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The protocol we developed tried to counteract the negative effects of a narrow focus on just instructional strategies ... tried to counteract the negative effects of thinking some strategies must be used by all teachers. So, we developed a robust model that actually drew from three or four areas, depending on how you count; and for me, a good model should include all of these areas. One certainly is instructional strategies—you know, things that deal with students, you know, learning and acquiring and, you know, gaining in their content knowledge. Another area, though, is classroom management. Those strategies are equally as important as instructional strategies. As a matter of fact, I believe it was a study done by Herb Walberg and his colleagues in the mid-nineties ... I think they looked at, I forgot how many, you know, research studies and chapters in books, and I think they identified, I forgot, it was, I think it was over a hundred different types of strategies—some in the classroom, some at the school level, some at the district level. And the top of their list was classroom management. You know, then their analysis, they said this is the number one category of strategies that a teacher must attend to. So you can make a case, if you will, but if you were going to start in terms of developing a model of instruction, you know, based on, you know, Walberg’s research and his colleagues—I think it was Geneva Hartell and Margaret Wang—that classroom management, you know, would be at the top of your list.

Again, if you have a narrow list of instructional strategies that you call good teaching, you don’t miss classroom management. Certainly the area of assessment. The ... you know, myself and my colleagues, we write books relative to instruction—we wrote the book Classroom Instruction That Works; relative to management, we wrote the book Classroom Management That Works. We also wrote a book that was Classroom Instruction and Grading That Works—huge area that has to be part of a robust model of instruction in there—for a robust system of feedback. There’s another area, too, that’s kind of embedded in all of the other three, and that’s curriculum. How does—how do teachers organize content, and, you know, put it together in a way that makes sense within a unit and within a lesson?

So, the protocol, the model, and, that we developed was Art and Science of Teaching that combined all of those areas, and then the protocol was the protocol that you’ll see on iObservation. And for us, we believe that that represents the most robust and comprehensive model, you know, to date, and, again, if there—I apologize if there are other models out there I just don’t know about, but you know, we think this is—this is a, you know, a pretty—a pretty good step, you know, in the right direction, and hopefully close to the state of the art relative to what we know right now. So that separates us from the other, you know, observational protocols—the other walkthroughs. We have to take a broad, comprehensive perspective—we think we’ve hit all the important elements.

One problem that sometimes occurs, with schools and districts who are considering using Art and Science and then the—a protocol on iObservation say, well, wait a minute—we’ve already got a model ... and now this is something new, and we don’t want to dishonor what we’ve done before. Well, you don’t have to. And actually, this is kind of, you know, two sides of the coin, here. In some cases, their model is too narrow, and they’re just taking, you know, X-number, you know, of instructional strategies—they call that their model. Well, in that case we say, keep that—don’t throw that out, but now, use Art and Science to expand the vision, you know, and over time, start adding components to it. So, you know, that’s one—so it’s not—you don’t have to give up, you know, what you were doing before. It’s a good place to start, and when people look at classroom instruction that works and take in those nine strategies—that’s a good starting place. It really is. But now they have to add management, they have to add assessment, and then they have to put that together in a comprehensive way of looking at teaching, which says this strategy is used in this context and this strategy is used in this, and that’s what Art and Science does for them. So we would say, you don’t have to throw anything out—keep what you started with, but now start adding to it.

Let me give you the other type of problem which is kind of the opposite type of problem. And that is where a district will have a comprehensive model, but they don’t get specific about it, so I’ve seen “models”—or, languages of instruction, that just say, we use formative assessment, and we use high-yield instructional strategies—even though I do not like that title—and we use effective management strategies, and that’s it. Well, that’s not specific enough. So we say, well, great, you know—keep what you have. You don’t have to jettison your framework, but now, get into more depth and more specificity, and of course, we say, why don’t you look at the Art and Science of Teaching, you know, as a way of getting more specific? And now, you might pick an area—well let’s say, you might pick instructional strategies and say, well let’s just add to that, and let’s get more specific in terms of what we’re looking for. So whether you’ve got a very narrow model, you know, or you’ve got a very, you know, broad model—whether you have a narrow model that doesn’t include all of what you should be looking at, or you’ve got a very broad model that includes all the major parts, you know, but, you’re not specific, we would say, you know, you might take a look at Art and Science of Teaching, and then the iObservation protocol to help you now, over time, make that better.

So another way of saying that, you know, if you’ve already started, great. Keep what you have, but now, change.  You know, make ... work to make it better, and better means comprehensive and specific and contextualized.  You know, this strategy fits here, and this strategy fits here, and I—we believe we’re there now, that for the first time, you know, we’re there in a very concrete way, and that we have the technology that makes this available in a way that’s not labor intensive.

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