Op Ed

Authentic Teaching – OpEd

Authentic Teaching leads to authentic learning, the Twin Supports of

Student Centered Learning by Peter J.  Foley, Ed.D


This month’s featured article about authentic learning got me thinking about authentic teaching. It occurred to me that both authentic teaching and authentic learning are joined at the hips, both being legs that student centered learning stands on.

It all boils down to a problem we all find hard to pin down: how can we define authentic teaching , that is , real teaching and not just going through the motions.  It is tempting to reply in a similar fashion as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice who struggled to define pornography and finally said: “I cannot define it , but I know it when I see it.”

That response is not adequate for educators who must make a judgment on teachers’ job performance.  In an article I wrote in 2012 and is found in the SCLThailand archive , I attempted to give educators a comprehensive quantifiable teacher performance instrument.  An alternative description of what constitutes good teaching is provided on a qualitative basis in Teaching As Leadership by Steven Farr, Teach for America. The following is Farr’s list of the core principles of effective teaching:

  1. Set big goals:   that are ambitious, measureable, and meaningful for their students.
  2. Invest students and families: so all work to achieve these ambitious goals
  3. Plan purposefully: focus on how success will be defined,  path to student growth
  4. Execute effectively: monitor progress and adjust course to contribute to learning
  5. Continuously increase effectiveness: reflect critically on student progress
  6. Work relentlessly: to overcome obstacles to student learning*

Of course, the devil is in the details.  Nevertheless, if teachers keep these general principles in their minds and hearts their teaching will be more authentic and consequently their students’  learning will be more authentic.

N.B. Teach for America has expanded to other countries.  Experts from Teach from America are currently in Thailand for the startup of Teach for Thailand.  Teach for Thailand will be holding a training program for talented Thai college graduates who want to make a contribution to Thailand as new teachers who bring passion and a love of learning to the teaching experience.   See  the Job Opportunities menu on SCLThailand for more information about Teach for Thailand.   *Farr, Steven.  Teaching As Leadership  2010.  page 33.


One reply on “Authentic Teaching – OpEd”

Thanks Peter… I agree re your comments on teaching effectively or at least at a high level …not so sure about the implied title link between authentic teaching and authentic learning…as you say both are relatively easy to “see” in action but they may not be that closely related ( depending on our own definitions!)… possibly because ( in my mind) the acts or actions involved in teaching and learning can be quite different.
Glad the article provoked some thought

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