“Tell them what you’re going to say, say it, and then tell them what you said.”
Probably as much as any other “instructional method,” direct teaching, also known as direct instruction, is both misunderstood but at the same time can be a powerful teaching tool in the classroom. For new teachers, it provides an anchor, a proven technique that can provide a measure of stability in those first hectic months of teaching. The name most associated with direct teaching is Madeline Hunter. Direct teaching is also associated with Clinical Teaching, Target Teaching, and Instructional Theory into Practice (TIP). To be sure, there are many who dismiss direct teaching as an ineffective model, but one must question such assertions with a deeper question: “Ineffective compared to what?”
Direct teaching is a systematic instructional method that first and foremost requires the teacher to have a command of the subject matter at as close to a mastery level as possible. This means that whether subject matter is at the elementary level, middle school level, high school level, college level or adult education level, that the teacher thoroughly “understand” the content. Such understanding presupposes that the teacher “knows” more than the facts that describe the content. It also means that the teacher understands the structure of the content. In short, it means that the teacher understands each item of the content in more than one way. The main purpose of direct teaching is to provide information within a structure that enables all students to attain the stated objectives at a level of mastery. Inferences may be made at this point that direct teaching is least attractive to those teachers who themselves lack mastery of the content. Can teachers be effective without using direct teaching? Of course. In fact, many, if not most successful instructional episodes occupy a continuum of teaching methods from direct teaching to cooperative learning and individual student projects.
Direct teaching or direct instruction is a systematic way of planning, communicating, and delivering in the classroom. One does not become proficient at this, or any skill without practice and relevant feedback. Direct teaching is probably best for teaching skills, not understandings, and so, the teacher must practice these skills himself as perfectly as possible.
The following sites provide insight into Madeline Hunter’s direct teaching model and ideas. The purpose is to provide information that can help you sharpen your skills and help you understand this sometimes maligned approach that can be a valuable part of your instructional repertoire. What follows is serious information.