Responsive Teaching

“If a teacher teaches but no students have learned, has the teacher taught?” Authors Chris Gareis and Leslie Grant ask this important question, emphasizing the idea that learning is an integral part of teaching. When we learn, something changes in our knowledge, values, opinions, or what we can do. Therefore, true teaching focuses not on how or what we teach, but rather on the result or what has changed for our students after being taught.

This shift requires us to focus on teaching individuals rather than merely a group of students. If we have this great and growing variety of students in our classes, we cannot teach them as if they are all alike. Rather, it is our obligation to teach responsively. How is this accomplished at Trinity? 

This shift requires us to focus on teaching individuals rather than merely a group of students. If we have this great and growing variety of students in our classes, we cannot teach them as if they are all alike. Rather, it is our obligation to teach responsively. How is this accomplished at Trinity?

Responsive teaching requires us to create an environment that invites kids to learn. This shifts our role from one of a master puppeteer dispensing information to becoming a student of our students. Reflecting and responding to how all of our students learn best naturally engages them in the learning process.

Secondly, it means teachers must have clarity about what students should know and be able to do by the end of the lesson, unit, or year. Clarity about curricular outcomes forces teachers to begin with the end in mind, envisioning what our work will look like before we start. If we want our graduates to be thinkers, flexible, intellectually curious, and theologically discerning, as well as to seek out service, our lessons and units should be designed to develop these attributes.

Lastly, responsive classrooms focus on learning rather than compliance and control. Managing a class like this emphasizes flexibility that requires a shift in the traditional mindset. A teacher in a responsive classroom has spent time creating relationships with students and has established clear expectations for how the class operates to run smoothly. “We will never be able to address varying student needs unless we ask teachers to learn to handle a classroom where two or three or four things are sometimes happening at the same time,” writes Carol Tomlinson. 

If we, as educators, are intentional about the creation and enactment of teaching responsively, student engagement and learning will undoubtedly result.

Teacher-Made Assessments: How to Connect Curriculum, Instruction, and Student Learning, by Christopher R. Gareis and Leslie W. Grant, Routledge, 2015, pp. 1–2.


About the Author

Kimberly Miller is passionate about teaching and delights in training teachers to be even more effective and inspiring in the classroom. She is a devoted mother of three, a lover of God’s creation, and embraces her inner Science diva!

 

 

Year In Review
2017-2018