Teacher Clarity: A Supplement to the Podcast with Dr. John Almarode

Back in October, I had the opportunity to join Dr. John Almarode in a workshop on Teacher Clarity.  John is the lead author of the Visible Learning for Science book that came out March 2018.  This post is a revisiting of an earlier post.  I felt this would be a good fit, given that tomorrow will bring the release of my podcast with John--especially since this post deals with something we touched on, but didn't go deep into on the podcast.

In Hattie's work , he uses effect size as his standard for judging the efficacy of a specific approach to teaching. The threshold for a year's growth is .40, the strategies the Visible Learning group has studied are each assigned an effect size.  Teacher Clarity clocks in at a .75 effect size.  Hattie defines teacher clarity quoting the (unpublished) work of Fendick (1990) as “organization, explanation, examples and guided practice, and assessment of student learning — such that clarity of speech was a prerequisite of teacher clarity.” (Hattie 2009, 126) .

One of the things that I felt was an immediate place to hang our hats was when Dr. John referenced John Antonetti's (who has a new book on Powerful Task Design)work with classroom walkthroughs and how often kids were not able to immediately articulate the what, why, and how of the day's learning intentions.  Here's how it was broken down:

  1. What am I learning?
  2. Why am I learning it?
  3. How will I know when I've mastered it?

The goal is to have the students turn these questions into statements.  The learning intention does not need to be lofty, it merely needs to be clear enough that the kids could answer these questions easily, while connecting to the overarching goal of the lesson/unit/course.  There are many ways it could come together. 

For example:

  1. I am learning how to read a table.
  2. I am learning this because it will help me understand data in textbooks and news stories. 
  3. I will know I have mastered this when I am able to create a table of my own.

When one considers the place to start with learning, the teacher's clarity around learning targets and how to achieve them is the first step.  If a teacher can be clear in expectations to students, then what's left is orchestrating the strategies that will yield the highest growth for students.