New York Academy’s Approach to Learning



An effective teacher is the single most important factor when it comes to student academic achievement. When a teacher moves from sage on the stage lectures to modeling and coaching engaged learning, student academic achievement not only goes way up, but students learn to learn and become self-directed, passionate lifelong learners.

Essential Questions

  • What does ‘Teaching vs. Learning’ imply?
  • What does it mean to model thinking and the authentic act of doing?
  • What does it mean to coach a student engaged in learning?

Teachers need to stop talking at students. We need to not “explain” so much.
When teachers model (perform) the authentic act of thinking and doing, students learn to learn.

Modeling the Authentic Act of Thinking and Doing

When the teacher performs thinking aloud while demonstrating the authentic act of doing, students learn through a “show, don’t tell” approach.

Visualize this. A teacher’s reading comprehension lesson’s learning objective is as follows:

Learning Point: Readers think about the character’s actions and relationships to make meaning about the story.

The teacher begins by reading a passage (let’s say 2 or 3 pages) from a piece of literature that is intentionally chosen to illustrate making meaning per the Learning Point. The teacher then pauses, thinks aloud as though reading independently, and might also scribe a few notes:

“Hmmm. I’m going to make some tracks of thinking and jot down a few questions I’ve generated. Why is it that Eugene leaves school every day without bullying students in the afternoon, but then when he returns in the morning he bullies the first kid he sees? What is causing these actions? Could it be that something is going on at home in the evenings? Is he having some type of relationship issues? Perhaps the big question is, ‘What makes a bully a bully in the first place?’ Students, what do you think? Turn and talk to your partner.”  

Here, the teacher is modeling critical thinking around the learning point as well as a specific critical thinking skill – generating questions.

When we try to ‘teach’ (explain) this, research shows us that a student does not learn nearly as effectively compared to when we ‘model’ this and engage students in learning by facilitating them to “turn and talk” to apply it themselves.

Coaching Students

Visualize this. After the teacher has modeled thinking and the authentic act of doing, students are directed to read independently and apply it. While students are engaged in independent reading, the teacher moves from student to student (or gathers a small group) with the aim of engaging them in conversation and coaching them according to their ability to apply the learning point. With a gradual release of responsibility, the students ‘learn to learn’ with the support of the teacher’s guidance and coaching.

Think about it. What is the difference between teaching and learning?

Facilitate students to learn to learn


Brain Kissman
Head of School
New York Academy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *