Coursing Through Instruction

A river is the source of life in an ecosystem just as instruction is the source of knowledge in the classroom. The factors that contribute to the course of the river can be equated to the keys of successful instruction.

Waters Deep Instruction

Painted by Stephanie Buckler

Rapid Waters or Calming Currents

Instruction has two paces, rapidly going through the material, then floating down the current at a calming pace. However, rapid does not mean instruction is going so fast that students are at risk for toppling over, nor does calming currents mean that everyone is sitting quietly in the boat. Rapid means that the material flows from one topic to the next without the students even noticing the transition. But not every students wants the seamless transition. They have to be able to see where it moves from one thing to another. Because of these different types of students, a successful instructional plan will account for the calm currents and the rapid riders.

Rocky Waters

As water flows over rocks, it erodes away the rocks’ once rigid shape into smooth edges. These rocks represent the breaks and jerks that did not work with instruction the first time it occurred. Therefore, with more practice and experience, these breaks and jerks will be smoothed out. Some may take longer than others, while some can simply be plucked out of the stream.

Going with the Bends of the River

There is no surprise that rivers flow down hill, yet rivers are still unpredictable. Rivers have bends and curves that can throw any teacher off their planned instruction. These bends could be as simple as a malfunction with technology or absent students. Both of these are something that cannot be controlled, and may not be known until coming up on the river bend. An effective teacher will be able to balance out the bends that break their planned instruction.

Aligning of Soil

The river accounts for the bend. On one side of the river is the embankment, where soil from the other side piles up. As the river erodes away the earth on one side is moves it to the other side of the river. This process in the formation of a river relates to the alignment that should occur in instruction. Teachers should plan for the information the students are gathering to be relevant to the summative assessment. Otherwise, the instruction will be choppy and unbalanced.

Feeding the Trees, Animals or Becoming Clouds

The river provides nutrients to a variety of elements in the ecosystem. The river provides water to the trees and plants through their roots. Animals use the water to bathe and hydrate themselves. The sun then changes the water to vapor and the water vapor condenses into clouds. These things equate to differentiated instruction. Not every student will be able to simply absorb the information through roots, nor is every student comfortable with bathing themselves in the knowledge, nor take the information to the sky. Therefore, instruction needs to be varied to meet each students needs, as well as to change up the pace of the current.


There needs to be a balance of rapids and calming currents, reflection on what has worked in the past, account for possible changes, an aligned distribution between content and assessment, and varied types of instruction for each student for instruction to be effective. With effective instruction, students will take the knowledge and broaden the world.



About Stephanie

Latin is my major and teaching is my aim. I enjoy puns and making learning and life dorkily effective. This is the term I use to define my teaching philosophy. It means that things do get done, but can be done in a dorky fashion.

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