I’m responding to Tim Wilson here, who touches on some very salient points regarding experts and novices.
My comment on his blog went like this…
I think the novices/expert distinction bears a bit more time here.
As novices gain expertise, the amount of cognitive load required for a particular activity lessens. As the behavior becomes automatized, the amount of load required lessens. Then, once expertise is gained the newly crowned expert can reinvest the extra cognitive load into other things.
The classic example is driving. Of course your recall how much you had to pay attention to the brake, gas, shifting, etc when you first started to drive. As that became more of a routine (automaticity was reached) you had to invest less load into driving and could focus on the other things like eating or talking on the phone. A bit silly, but you see the difference.
Take this in the classroom and a new teacher. The new teacher is at such a high level of cognitive load that he or she cannot focus on much more than lesson delivery. Once the behavior of delivering a lesson (for example) becomes more automatized he or she can then reinvest the load into more effective behavior management, etc. That’s why teachers who have been in the classroom for a long time (experts, veteran teachers) seem to have eyes in the back of their heads. The truth behind that is that they are investing load in watching students while the lesson delivery is automatized.
As for proven techniques, from a cognitive load perspective (Sweller, Kalyuga, Feldon, Ayers, Van Merrionboer and others) in order to accelerate that continuum as you say, one must practice. It is only when behavior becomes automatized can the extra load be reinvested in other things.
How does this help a new teacher? He or she should practice classroom routines ad nauseum. Not necessarily with students, but they need to be down. Everything from attendance to transitions to where to put stuff and so on. This way he or she can focus on lessons and students effectively lowering load.
There was an excellent article that speaks directly to this. It’s called Cognitive Load in the Classroom, the Double Edged Sword of Automaticity. Here is the citation, devour it and you’ll see the research behind what you think here intuitively.
Here is the link, but it’s in Educational Psychologist, so you’ll need journal access.
If you don’t have access, email me and I will send it to you (with the author’s permission, which I have).
Hope this helps..