What is in an essential question? What is in an objective? What is in a learning target?
More than the acronym “TSW”, I can tell you that.
I pose this question seriously, however, because beginning with the end in mind is paramount in affecting student achievement. Furthermore, it helps set the stage for students’ engagement also.
Teacher clarity is a a research-based tool used to focus a lesson, and guides a teacher to the most succinct elements necessary to deliver specific and detailed instruction for the most pertinent parts of what students are meant to learn. Think of it as, what one of my good friends tells me, “Keeping the main thing the main thing.”
Doing this requires taking a laser-like look at individual learning standards to determine and identify what students should be able to know and do, and what success looks like. Once precisely defined, the teacher can then develop learning progressions for the intended learning. This is done for all the standards within a unit of study. Teachers then are able to support students by creating an image for success. Students are then empowered to learn and with explore with a better understanding of the objective and improved engagement.
How much more successful could our students be if we truly were their clarity? Sometimes in the haphazardly scribbled EQs on whiteboards, we fail to accurately show kids what the end outcome of their learning is supposed to be. My district is actually moving to learning targets this year, which I am excited about–it takes the guessing away from the students when they are trying to articulate the answers to the very broad questions they are sometimes presented with at the beginning of the day. With explicitly identified intentions for learning, our kids are set up for achievement before the leaning even begins!
State standard support documents are helpful in creating teacher clarity, but it is far from enough. This careful analysis of learning expectations requires collaboration amongst grade level team members and subject-specific teams; there would be great power, especially, in looking at these expectations vertically.
This, teacher clarity, could truly be the “remedy” our students need in order to fully engage in the tasks we present to them.