For students, highly effective teaching isn’t typically a framework that is used when evaluating teachers. Instead, they are often assessing whether or not they “like” the teacher or the content. As a child, your framework for who was a great teacher might have been who had the best snacks, or who showed your favorite movies, or who had the easiest tests. They might not have taught you anything, but you enjoyed their company! Or maybe there was a teacher who really knew their content, but they did not know how to explain it to you. They loved chemistry so much that they struggled to break it down in sizable chunks for you as a 7th grader.
Being a highly effective teacher is about more than being likeable, and it’s more than knowing your content. At KCTR we borrow the thinking of Gary Howard and the Achievement triangle when thinking about what makes a good teacher.
What does being an effective teacher mean?
Highly effective teachers (meaning those who most highly meet and fulfill the role of educator) are those who have a deep knowledge of their students, of themselves as a teacher, and of their content. It’s the combination that really changes the game. When teachers have and display a deep understanding of those three areas (themselves, their students, and the content) that’s when students are most able to engage with the content and learn.
We use this framework as an aspirational goal for education in Kansas City. We believe that every child deserves a quality education; and we believe that will come with a teacher who really understands themselves, the student, and the content. Every child deserves to have an equitable educational experience.
KCTR’s approach to Highly Effective Teaching
So that’s what KCTR sets out to do through our residency model. Our program is meant to deepen each teacher’s understanding of themselves. This includes identifying strengths and weaknesses, uncovering biases, and leveraging their role at their school. Our teachers grow in their knowledge of their craft by engaging in culturally responsive teaching practices. This deepens their own understanding of content and effective teaching strategies. Our program is Kansas City focused, and equity centered. The first experience of the residency is a course in diversity, equity and inclusion including the history of Kansas City educational landscape. Residents are charged with developing practices to connect with and build positive relationships. We want them to know their students individually, and the communities as a whole.
By preparing more teachers in Kansas City we are making a difference in the educational outcome of Kansas City students as a whole.