St. Margaret’s Episcopal School has always known what research has been recently identifying – expert teachers are critical to student learning and achievement. In recent studies that aim to identify which factors within schools are most critical to learning, teacher excellence always accounts for the greatest variance in achievement.
Further, we know that excellent teaching is both an art and a science, and the best teachers are given the flexibility to respond to student needs, take advantage of new information, anticipate problems and improvise strategies. The best teachers have an integrated knowledge base and can combine new subject matter content with prior knowledge and change, combine and add to curriculum based on student needs and goals. Expert teachers give frequent feedback to students, are sensitive to the affective components of learning, and have deep respect for students. They are problem solvers and decision makers who challenge their students and have very high expectations for growth, their students and their own. Excellent teachers connect with their students, know their unique learning styles, care for them and about their success, are passionate about student learning and believe that each and every student can and will learn. At St. Margaret’s, our teachers are excellent.
Excellent teaching is a constant work in progress. Further, we know that modeling learning is an equally effective tool to nurture and inspire lifelong learners. Our teachers are given opportunities to continue learning and exploring passions through professional development. Excellent teaching is also a collaborative process. Therefore, we have developed structures for teachers to engage with each other in professional learning communities. Excellent teaching requires feedback and frequent reflection. At St. Margaret’s, our teachers benefit from frequent reviews and annual goal setting and reflection meetings.
While we have worked to align our curriculum both horizontally and vertically and make certain the there is a cohesive learning plan for each student, our teachers are given the flexibility to make decisions about teaching and learning at the classroom level. Our teachers inspire curiosity, foster lifelong learning and model the behaviors we seek to develop in our students.