Essential Element 4 – Classroom instruction


Classroom instruction appropriate to the needs and characteristics of young adolescents provided by skilled and knowledgeable teachers.


Every young adolescent requires skilled and caring teachers who have a thorough understanding of their subject(s) and of the students they teach.


Teachers in middle-level classrooms understand and appreciate the emotional, intellectual, physical, psychological, and social changes that are occurring within their students and recognize the behaviors manifested by these changes.  They use instructional techniques and processes that capitalize on the unique developmental characteristics and individual needs of early adolescents.


Successful middle-level teachers in a standards-focused school:


4.1       Are caring and respectful in their interactions with students and with other adults.

4.2       Provide instruction that is standards-based, challenging, rigorous, and purposeful.

4.3       Know and understand the needs and developmental characteristics of young adolescents.

4.4       Have a deep understanding of their subject matter, of different approaches to student learning, and of diverse teaching techniques.

4.5       Know and understand each of the State’s 28 learning standards and – when and where appropriate – reinforce them routinely during regular classroom instruction.

4.6       Use a range of successful, research-based teaching strategies that are developmentally and cognitively appropriate, matching instruction to the students’ varied learning styles and different intelligences.

4.7       Involve students in their learning, encouraging them to contribute to their learning experiences, to make choices, to explore, to question, to experience, to learn, to grow, to develop social, interpersonal and leadership skills in addition to academic proficiency.

4.8       Vary activities to maintain student interest.

4.9       Use technology and other instructional resources purposefully to support and enhance learning.

4.10    Focus instruction on thinking, reasoning, and problem solving and, at the same time ensure that students acquire necessary content and subject matter.

4.11    Use interdisciplinary approaches to help students integrate their studies and meet learning standards.

4.12    Use flexible grouping based upon student needs and interests to help each student achieve the learning standards, with students changing groups often, depending on individual needs and program purposes.

4.13    Use classroom assessments that reflect the State’s learning standards and are aligned with State assessments.

4.14    Use classroom assessments that are instructionally useful indicators of individual student growth and performance not only to monitor each student’s progress in meeting the State’s learning standards but also to plan instruction.

4.15    Use student data, both personal and achievement, to make curricular and instructional decisions.

4.16    Use cooperative learning groups and peer-tutoring opportunities to develop social and interpersonal skills in addition to academic proficiency.

4.17    Consult with each other and with other school personnel.  Teachers with regular education assignments and those assigned to programs for students with special needs work closely together.

4.18    Maintain performance expectations that are consistent and interrelated across and within subject areas.

4.19    Inform and involve parents of middle-level students in their children’s education by helping them understand the learning standards their children must meet, the instructional program, their children’s progress, and how to help their children at home with schoolwork, school decisions, and successful development through adolescence.

4.20    Are themselves learners who are constantly engaged in professional and intellectual growth activities.

4.21    Recognize that they must work together cooperatively and collaboratively – rather than individually and in isolation – to ensure that all their students achieve at high levels and meet all the State’s learning standards.

Resources and Best Practices for Essential Element 4

On-line Grading and Feedback
Smartbaords in classrooms
Read 180 in Self-Contained Classrooms
Teachers Using Technology in the classroom

Grade Level Writing Prompts
After Action Review
Cooperative Literacy
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