Teacher Feature!

Roger Klinger, Grade 3 Champlain Elementary

Culturally Responsive Teaching is Holding All Kids to High Expectations

It is crucial that we communicate a sincere belief in each and every child's ability to succeed and achieve at high levels. We need to send the message that, "I know you can, I expect you to, and I'm here to help." If you're not yet familiar with the work of John Hattie, it's worth the read. Hattie is the author of Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning (2012), a synthesis of more than 800 meta-studies over 15 years of research about what works best with regards to student learning in schools. Hattie ranked 195 influences on student learning and measured their effect sizes. His results show that a teacher's estimation of what students are able to achieve has the most significant impact on their actual achievement.

How do you communicate high expectations for all students throughout the school day? In your classroom, for whom is positive attention and affirmation particularly important?

Roger Klinger - High Expectations, Building Community, and Accountable Talk

In elementary school, teachers use the first several weeks to set the tone for the year, build a sense of community, and teach into classroom routines. Even so, Roger doesn't miss a single opportunity for content-rich learning.

Roger is using the Engage NY ELA Grade 3 Module 1 to teach students about access to books in different parts of the world as he sets his expectations for Readers' Workshop. This rich, integrated unit begins with anchor texts including Rain School by James Rumford, The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter, and My Librarian is a Camel: How Books are Brought to Children Around the World by Margriet Ruurs. As Roger shares these read-alouds with his students, he fosters a sense of respect for people in different parts of the world, guides children to make connections between their own lives and the lives of the children in the texts, and encourages his students to consider the perspectives of people whose lives are different than theirs.

Mr. Klinger holds all his students to high expectations, communicating his sincere belief that each and every one of them are capable of success and responsible for contributing to the class discussions in meaningful ways. He explains "full-body listening" by asking them, "What's going to be happening in your head? Thinking! What's going to be happening in your heart? Caring!" This call and response between Roger and his students reinforces the fact that learning can look different for each child, but that he has expectations for everyone's active engagement.

In Roger's classroom, there is an entry point for every child. As questions come up, he validates their thoughts but doesn't always answer. He encourages them to keep thinking and embrace a growth mindset. Roger is a master of "wait time," posing a question, waiting while they think, than asking them to "turn and talk" to their peers. In this way, students are accountable to each other. Peers depend on each other to stay engaged and make meaning of these complex texts together. Roger prompts them as he models a "close read," encouraging them to figure out what unfamiliar vocabulary words mean by talking in small groups. Roger fosters a sense of respect and interdependence in his classroom.

Want to recommend a colleague for the next Culturally Responsive Teacher Feature?

Please contact Rebecca Haslam and tell her all about your wonderful colleague! No pressure to write up something fancy; Rebecca will go visit the teacher and observe their practice. Psst -it's also okay to nominate yourself! Perhaps you are proud of your own inclusive teaching practices, intentional work around affirming students' cultures and identities, or want to showcase a lesson or unit. It's okay to shine a light on yourself! Consider it a gift to your colleagues.