McREL’s 3 Imperatives for Quality Teaching and Learning

Elementary teacher kneeling next to student's desk.

Our friends at McREL International recently wrote an incredibly well-researched book called, The 12 Touchstones of Good Teaching: A Checklist for Staying Focused Every Day.

Beyond the touchstones it presents, the book also delves into three imperatives for improving the quality of teaching and learning in an educator’s classroom.

Below is a quick rundown of those three imperatives.

1. Be Demanding.

The first imperative to improve the quality of teaching and learning in your classroom is for you to be demanding.

According to McREL, a “demanding” teacher is not one who is a “no-nonsense, authoritarian teacher,” but rather one who:

“[has] high expectations of your students and, just as importantly, [helps] them gain confidence in themselves and [encourages] them to take on more challenges than they previously thought themselves capable of handling.”

Infographic explaining how to be a successfully demanding teacher.McREL outlines four keys for successfully demanding — and getting — the most out of students. In addition to measuring how well your students respond to these keys, however, it’s also important for you to take the time to reflect on how well you, as the teacher, are implementing these components into your classroom.

The four keys for effectively demanding the most of your students are:
  1. Use the district-approved standards to explicitly explain the learning.
  2. Help students set and expand goals.
  3. Develop challenging rubrics.
  4. Set high expectations.

For a more detailed description of how to be a demanding teacher, click below to read the full in-depth article, “Demanding the best from your students, and helping them believe they can achieve it (Infographic),” on McREL’s website.

Be Demanding


2. Be Supportive.

To balance out the “demanding” imperative, you also need to be supportive.

“Being supportive means that a teacher interacts with students and encourages growth in a trusting, nurturing environment.”

— Lisa Maxfield, McREL


When it comes to embracing a supportive attitude in your classroom, McREL explains that there are four keys to keep in mind.

The four keys for being supportive are:
  1. Engage student interest with every lesson.
  2. Interact meaningfully with every student.
  3. Use feedback to encourage effort.
  4. Create an oasis of safety and respect in the classroom.

To learn more about how to be a truly supportive educator, click the button below and read McREL’s full article, “Supporting student creativity, perseverance, and risk-taking (the good kind) — (Infographic).”

Be Supportive




3. Be Intentional.

Finally, in order to bring it all together and make your efforts effective, it’s critical for you to focus and be intentional.

“Being intentional means that teachers know and understand why they are doing what they are doing in the classroom to coach their students to deeper understanding and knowledge.”

— Lisa Maxfield, McREL

Infographic showing keys for being intentional.



In order to be intentional and make sure that your motivation aligns with your lesson, it’s helpful to self-reflect and measure yourself against four key points.

The four keys for being intentional are:
  1. Make the most of every minute.
  2. Help students develop deep knowledge.
  3. Coach students to mastery.
  4. Help students do something with their learning.

You can get more-detailed information on how to be intentional and make your lessons truly effective by reading McREL’s full article, “Intentional teaching inspires intentional learning (Infographic).” Click below to read it now.

Be Intentional


Want to use McREL’s researched methods to grow even more as an educator?

Click below to learn how McREL EmpowerED Suite and its peer-coaching application can help you.

McREL EmpowerED Suite