DAP: Strategies for Effective Teaching

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  • 0:03 Developmentally…
  • 1:04 Five Guidelines
  • 2:32 Ten Practices
  • 6:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

DAP is a buzzword in education, but what exactly does it mean? In this lesson, we'll explore DAP, including what it is, the five essential guidelines for effective teaching, and the ten effective teaching strategies that fall under DAP.

Developmentally Appropriate Practice

Andrew is a kindergarten teacher. He's excited about starting at a new school but is a little confused. He's heard the other teachers at the school talk about something called DAP, but he's not sure what that is.

Developmentally appropriate practices (DAP) focus on making sure that educators provide opportunities to learn that are right for the age of the students. After all, we wouldn't expect a three-year-old to learn the same way a thirteen-year-old would!

A good DAP educator focuses on knowing about child development and learning, knowing what is appropriate for each individual student, and knowing what's culturally appropriate. And, while all that sounds good, Andrew isn't sure how to do that. What does DAP look like in the classroom? To help Andrew out, let's look at the five major guidelines of DAP as well as ten educational practices he can implement in his classroom.

Five Guidelines

In theory, Andrew likes the idea of DAP. But he really wants more information about it. What, exactly, does DAP mean for classroom teachers?

There are five essential guidelines for effective teaching in DAP, including:

1. Creating a caring community of learners. This includes making the classroom a safe space for children to express themselves, ask questions, and try out ideas.

2. Teaching to enhance development and learning. This includes acknowledging each student's strengths and challenges and helping to support them.

3. Planning curriculum to achieve important goals. To do this, Andrew will likely create a curriculum by thinking about the end result first. What does he want his students to accomplish? Once he's answered that, he can plan everything that comes before it and how to get his students to that goal.

4. Assessing children's development and learning. Throughout the semester, Andrew will want to observe, talk to, and look at the work of each student to see how they're moving forward and where they need additional help.

5. And lastly, establishing reciprocal relationships with family. Andrew will want to get students' families involved in the learning process for the best outcomes.

Ten Practices

Those five guidelines sound really good to Andrew, but he still doesn't know what DAP could look like in his classroom. How can teachers like him put DAP into practice with different grades?

To help out teachers, there are ten effective teaching strategies that can be used with any age group, including:

1. Acknowledge what children say or do.

For teachers of infants or toddlers, this might simply mean reacting to the child when they are crying or expressing themselves non-verbally. For teachers of older students, like Andrew's early childhood students, this could include comments on what the child has done, such as 'You did that math problem very well! Let's try another one!'

2. Encourage persistence and effort.

Instead of focusing on accomplishments, praise the effort put in to get to an accomplishment. In an early childhood classroom like Andrew's, this could mean saying things like, 'I love how you didn't give up, even when you were struggling with that problem.'

3. Give specific feedback to students.

No matter whether they're teaching infants, preschoolers, or early childhood students, teachers like Andrew can give very specific feedback to students. General comments like, 'Good job,' aren't nearly as effective as more specific comments like, 'Your painting includes many different colors, which makes it look very bright and cheerful.'

4. Modeling behaviors that students should develop.

It's easy for teachers to tell students what the best thing to say or do is, but it's more effective to show them. With infants, this might simply mean offering comfort when they're upset. With older kids, this could mean showing them how to share or encourage others through the teacher's own actions.

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