Teaching is an incredibly complex profession; it is said that teachers make more decisions in a day than a surgeon. Great teachers understand that teaching is a Science and is also an Art. There are things that we do that work regularly and reliably e.g. making sure your class is quiet and focused before speaking however, there are things that we do that are based purely on the group of students and the context that is in front of us e.g. knowing that this group of students like to hear funny stories but another group of students prefers to get on with the task. Add to this in a Christian School, we are not only teaching the mandated curriculum but helping our students to see and live in God’s creation through a biblical worldview using that curriculum. It is certainly a challenging but none the less exciting profession and calling!
As we develop and grow as educators one of the areas that we are constantly working to do well is translating our planning documents into excellent practice in the classroom. We want to make sure that we do not just document our biblical perspectives but that we use them to actively teach for student formation. A tool to help with this that we are working on currently is teacher clarity. Teacher clarity seems really obvious, right? Teachers should be clear in their explanations; however, teacher clarity is much more than that!
Teacher clarity involves looking at four main aspects of the teaching process:
It involves the whole process of planning the desired understanding and skills that students should have by the end of the unit, the evidence that teachers are looking for to see if students understand and can do the required skills, then a sequenced plan of lessons that progressively teach students the required skills and knowledge and also making it clear to students what they are learning and what it looks like when they are successful. Education researchers suggest that teacher clarity has a significant effect size on student learning of 0.75, that means if teachers are clear about all aspects of learning, students will improve their learning outcomes by more than a year’s worth of learning growth.
Why is this important for teaching at MECS? We would propose that being clear and intentional about ensuring that students are learning from a biblical perspective is fundamental to why we exist as a school. We want our students to actively live for God in His world and teacher clarity is one way we can contribute to this.