Monday, March 23, 2009

52 Teachers, 52 Lessons #10: Clear Expectations

This week's entry comes all the way from South Korea, where Lauren Teather teaches 6th grade math and science. Lauren brings vast international experience, having taught in Egypt, Ghana, and Zimbabwe before making her way to the city of Seoul.

I think a key component to successful teaching is to be absolutely transparent in your expectations. That might seem obvious to some, but it's not as easy to do as it sounds. I teach at a Christian school and work with a small group of 6th grade girls once a week after school in a discipleship group. One thing these girls frequently open up to me about is their anxiety about assessments, specifically regarding unclear expectations. In my math class I've been taking questions right from the test, changing the format or the numbers, so that they're being asked to show the same skills or knowledge, and breaking those questions into "checkpoints", which I give them periodically and do not grade (so there's no pressure), but have the kids mark themselves in class, so they get immediate feedback on how their doing. I collect them and look them over so I can get an idea of how to differentiate lessons, but pass them back to the students when I'm finished. However this manifests itself in your classroom, transparency of expectations is essential. It's only fair to inform the students what they are expected to learn, rather than holding them accountable for absolutely every tidbit that was covered in a particular unit.

Read more about this project here or add the 52 teachers 52 lessons tag to your favorites. Email your entries to teachforeverATgmailDOTcom. Week 10 will be posted next Monday, March 30th.