Professional Development at Research for Better Teaching

Skillful Teaching

The heart and soul of RBT is our expertise in teachingstarting 40 years ago with the publication of The Skillful Teacher (now into its seventh edition) and mushrooming into a range of professional development services, products, and publications that bring skillful teaching to life in rich and vivid detail.

We define skillful teaching to include anything a teacher does that impacts the probability of intended learning. Thus it includes a wide array of skills such as communicating their belief in students’ capabilities, motivating and engaging students, demonstrating cultural proficiency, planning engaging lessons, making concepts and skills accessible, and continuously assessing student understanding. It also includes quite a range of activities beyond interactive classroom behaviors, such as analyzing data, designing reteaching, involving families, and being a good colleague and team member. Becoming a skillful teacher is a life’s work.

Here’s the good news: there is a common core of research-based professional knowledge about every dimension of good teaching. That knowledge base is accessible and practical. It is not a list of behaviors or do’s and don’ts on best practices. Rather, the knowledge base defines areas of performance – all those functions teachers carry out – and offers a rich repertoire of strategies and moves for each area. The art of teaching is in continuously expanding one’s repertoire and skillfully matching which tool or strategy best fits a given situation.

Map of Pedagogical Knowledge

The Map of Pedagogical Knowledge illustrates the areas of performance that make up teaching expertise. For the last 40 years, RBT has been dedicated to making that knowledge base accessible to teachers through our products and professional development programs, which both model and teach about good teaching; to using authentic classroom videos; and to providing guidance in how to translate strategies into classroom practice through experimentation, reflection, feedback, and teacher collaboration.

“Skillful teachers are made, not born.” 

Saphier, Haley-Speca, Gower, The Skillful Teacher (2008)