The P.I.E.R. teaching process: Plan, Implement, Evaluate, Respond

A good teacher knows how to plan. Effective planning before a course begins involves selecting instructional materials, developing a syllabus, and planning units and lessons. It also involves preparing assessment, such as placement or diagnostic testing, and any major assessment tools such as a term paper, portfolio, or midterm and final exam.

Planning does not stop once a course begins, however. Teachers plan lessons throughout the duration of a course, and they are often required to adjust or make significant changes to a plan depending on how well students perform in class.

Planning is also only one stage of the teaching process. Once a course begins, a teacher needs to implement the plan worked on in the preceding weeks, and, as they implement it, evaluate its effectiveness by monitoring students’ performance and attainment of lesson and unit objectives, and decide how to respond, either by continuing with the planned curriculum or by making adjustments. Whichever choice is made involves the teacher in continuous planning throughout the duration of a course: the process of planning, implementing, evaluating, and responding becomes a recursive cycle, as seen in the image below, that moves at irregular speeds depending on the particular course involved and the frequency and length of class meetings. A typical day in a Grade 3 class will likely see the cycle moving at a much faster pace than a once-weekly lecture-style history course in university.

Let us look in detail at the different stages of the process to understand the model more clearly and see how it can be best put to use to help teachers thrive in their classrooms. As evidenced from the table below, success in teaching is very dependent on what happens before a course begins and in its early stages. Quality teaching depends on the ability of a teacher to both prepare and adjust as needed in response to students’ attainment, or lack thereof, of the intended course outcomes. Also important are the in-class skills a teacher employs to communicate effectively, manage time, and organize teaching activities to maximize learning and monitor how effectively students appear to be “getting” lesson objectives. Evaluation is both informal and formal; a skilled teacher has both eyes and ears open in class to assess what is happening and selects and designs assessment activities and tools to more formally evaluate students’ progress in achieving objectives between class sessions. Additionally, a skilled teacher can respond to students’ struggles during a course by making adjustments to instruction, in-class activities, and/or assessment strategies to foster more successful learning.

Teachers are professional learners as well as learning planners; their skills do not develop overnight, but as a teacher gains and applies the knowledge of the best ways to help students attain their goals, this experience helps them to develop into excellent practitioners whose efforts to help students succeed yield more and more fruit as they apply the many lessons they have themselves learned.

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