Principles of Effective Teaching

Apr 02, 2013
Tagged with: Principles of Effective Teaching

I recently read a book entitled, The Art and Science of Teaching: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Instruction, by Robert J. MarzanoThe book defines effective teaching as “a dynamic mixture of expertise and a vast array of instructional strategies that combine with an understanding of an individual and their needs at a particular point in time.”[i]  

 The team of professionals who have worked with me in the development and implementation of my walking program have used their professional expertise as Mr. Marzano describes to address and support my needs at particular points in time.  They have adopted the definition of effective teaching.


What we teach about disabilities influences professional practice.  Historically and even now, professional fields like Health and Fitness frame the concept of disability from a deficit perspective. Volumes of research and literature indicate and document that the concept of disability is viewed as a functional limitation and that it is also branded by diagnostic classifications.[ii]  I started to wonder how the fitness professionals who work with me moved beyond the medical-oriented construct of disability. 


All of the professionals developed an understanding of who I am as an individual.  They did not get stuck in a theoretical mindset or textbook approach about my disability.  They advanced their knowledge beyond the diagnostics of what my disability is and did not adopt the deficit view– the idea that Spastic Cerebral Palsy would prohibit me from improving my waking and overall mobility.


The professionals on my team have diverse backgrounds in Physical Education, Kinesiology, Strength and Conditioning, and Rehabilitation.  The noted disciplines, particularly Physical Education and Kinesiology, recognize differences in ability and adapt for the differences in instructional techniques.


The professionals I engaged with also assumed the roles of a mentor, a coach, and a teacher.  In the role of mentor, the professionals formed a dynamic relationship with me that was built on my goal of my walking without assistive devices.  They agreed to facilitate the process and support making my goal a reality.  They agreed to serve as my advisors, specifically planning and guiding my program based upon my evolving abilities, not limitations.


In the role of a coach, the professionals on my team provide guidance and specific instructions to implement the program and execute specific tasks. They also provide feedback so that I can improve my form, technique, and overall performance.


In the role of a teacher, the professionals are introducing new information, new methods, and opportunities to learn.  They are also planning, strategizing, and designing new phases of my program once I master specific skills.


Currently, a large proportion of the Health and Fitness fields continue teaching emerging professionals frameworks of thinking about disabilities that are outdated.  The documented and imparted notions of limitation ought to shift to focus on the abilities of the individual and providing adaption where it may be needed.

In my view, Health and Fitness disciplines would enhance the training and competencies of emerging professionals by infusing the qualities of effective teaching which have been described here into existing instruction on disabilities and disability-related topics.

Emerging professionals need to be introduced to the principles of effective teaching that Robert Marzano describes along with the principles and values of individuality, mentoring, coaching, teaching, and adaption.  This “dynamic mixture” will better serve the needs and abilities of people that the professional will engage with and ultimately serve.

[i] Marzano, R. J. (2007). The Art and Science of Teaching: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Instruction. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

[ii] Hubbard, S. (2004). Disability Studies and Health Care Curriculum: The Great Divide. Journal of Allied Health, 33(3), 184+

Author: Kerry