An author recently piqued my interest as he spoke of his experiences mountain climbing. But it is probably not what you’re thinking. It was not tales of death-defying ascents up a sheer cliff. No, it was just some of the mundane.
He spoke of how his climbing group, a well-respected organization located in the Pacific Northwest, developed a document referred to as Ten Essentials. As you might already envision, these Ten Essentials is a list of what every outdoor lover should carry at all times.
In his Christian school seminar presentation Your Christian School: A Culture of Grace?, Paul David Tripp warns of the dangers of behaviorism in our approach to discipline in our Christian school classrooms and advocates for discipline that pursues the heart.
Tripp likens correcting behavior without addressing the heart to nailing apples onto an apple tree in order to create a harvest. The futility of such an act strikes us as absurd, but Tripp’s point is that Christian school educators “apple nail” through threats, manipulation, and guilt to produce well-behaved students. But, these same students go to college and, in growing droves, abandon their faith. Behaviorism creates “smarter sinners” who are skilled at jumping through hoops to avoid consequences.
Too often teachers relegate professionalism to doctors, lawyers, bankers, and company CEOs. They say, “Why does it matter what I look like or sound like? They’re just children and young people.” I was guilty of thinking this way at times. And then one day I returned to the classroom after being away for several days while a substitute filled in for me. A young lady in one of my high school English classes came up when I returned and greeted me, “Thank you, Mrs. Earwood, for fixing your hair every day.” My first thought, “Wow, is that all she’s getting from my class.” Then I realized that what I looked like did make a lot of difference to her and how she received everything that I taught.
The substitute had obviously missed that memo. But everything about us—our attitudes, our conduct, and our appearance—is on display every day all day long. So, what are we portraying about real life, about our lives? Daily walking with the Lord and living a consistent Christian life in the classroom can be a challenge and quite trying at times, but Christian education is a life-impacting, play-for-keeps business that we can’t afford to get wrong.
In the first installment of this short series, we looked at the first 2 areas of responsibility which enables a teacher to be effective at his or her craft: the teacher as a person and the teacher as classroom manager and organizer. In today’s article, we will consider the 5 more areas teachers need to master in order to be effective in the classroom.
The Teacher as Instructional Leader
Fogarty and Pete (2007) describe the teacher as designer, organizer, and artist. “The three actions include (1) planning, (2) providing, and (3) preparing.” (Fogarty & Pete, p.57) The effective teacher thinks through every aspect of the lesson making sure to incorporate different teaching styles to accommodate different learning styles. Polish and creativity accompany lessons to enhance student participation.
“It is perhaps self-evident that more effective teachers use more effective instructional strategies.” (Marzano, 2003, p.78) Stronge (2002) believes that “teachers who successfully employ a range of strategies reach more students because they tap into more learning styles and student interest” (p.43). While preparing for a lesson, effective teachers reflect on each student’s learning style. The many different learning styles are then incorporated into the lesson or unit. Effective teachers will use presentation, direct instruction, concept teaching, cooperative learning, problem-based instruction, and classroom discussion to teach a class. The effective teacher will incorporate Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theories into his or her teaching style. This guarantees that each student will get the information in his or her own learning style.
What is the most important factor impacting student learning? While our common sense screams “the teacher,” research proves this to most certainly be the case (Marzano, 72). A study of 60,000 students across grades 3 through 5 was conducted by Paul Wright, Sandra Horn, and William Sanders. Marzano reported the statistics of the study as “on the average, the most effective teachers produced gains of about 53 percentage points in student achievement over one year, whereas the least effective teachers produced achievement gains of about 14 percentage points over one year” (Marzano, 72). Students lose academically when they have an ineffective teacher for a year.
An effective teacher must be excellent in numerous areas of responsibility – person, manager, disciplinarian, instructor, evaluator, communicator, change agent, and reflector. The teacher must have a passion for children and knowledge, and have a burning desire to communicate that knowledge.
All the way back in April, I asked our readers some questions about the makings of a great teacher convention. To refresh your memory, you can check that post out here. The questions sparked some good discussion among our readers and provided some good ideas for my team as we planned the P78 Conference (P78 stands for Psalm 78, our state’s annual teacher convention).
In the video below, I share some of the things we implemented and how you can use some of those things in your school or classroom. Check it out and leave a comment!