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Pedagogy can be defined as the art of teaching. Beyond simply understanding the content one is teaching, pedagogy involves being able to convey knowledge and skills in ways that students can understand, remember and apply. Although there is a significant amount of overlap between the two, pedagogical skills can generally be divided into classroom management skills and content-related skills.
Any good teacher knows that a class full of out-of-control students is unlikely to learn much. A teacher's first major task, then, is to learn to manage behavior in his or her classroom. This set of pedagogical skills involves establishing clear rules and expectations, because students who do not know what is expected of them are more likely to misbehave. Establishing expectations upfront keeps many problems from arising. When behavioral problems do arise in the classroom, however, a skilled teacher is able to handle them with a minimum amount of disruption to the learning environment.
The other major area of pedagogical skills is that of teaching content effectively. These skills vary with the subject matter and level of instruction, as those skills needed to teach kindergarteners to read are significantly different from those needed to teach secondary students to build sets for a theater production. Regardless of the content, however, a good teacher will present information in ways that actively engage the students in the material that they are learning. Good pedagogy involves not only imparting information, but also providing opportunities to apply that information.
A teacher must also be able to tailor content to the needs of his or her students. In any given classroom, no two students will have exactly the same knowledge or skills about the subject matter. A skilled teacher will be able to anticipate and respond to individual students' learning needs and challenges. He or she will also present tasks that are appropriate to the students' level of cognitive development.
These two types of pedagogical skills work together to create a good learning environment. Engaging and appropriate teaching methods help to reduce behavioral problems in the classroom. Students who are actively learning are less likely to be disruptive. If the material is too easy or not presented in interesting enough ways, students are likely to get bored. On the other hand, material that is too difficult may cause students to become frustrated.
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