Teacher Clarity

  • by Ashley Taplin
  • Oct. 20, 2020, 2:52 p.m.

By Ashley Taplin

According to Professor John Hattie’s Visible Learning research, Teacher Clarity is one of the top influences that can greatly impact student achievement (Visible Learning, John Hattie). Teacher clarity focuses on intentional learning targets and success criteria. Through writing learning targets and success criteria, a teacher can gain greater understanding of what they want students to know and be able to do (DuFour’s 1st PLC question), and additionally, help students develop essential SEL skills such as self-regulation and metacognition.

Success criteria is most effective when it: (thinkingpathwayzclarity_webinar)

  • links to the learning intention
  • is specific to a learning experience or task
  • is discussed, co-constructed and agreed with learners prior to undertaking the learning experience
  • uses child-friendly language
  • is visible and referred to during the learning experience
  • provides a clear scaffold and focus for learners while engaging with the learning
  • is used as the basis for feedback between learner and teacher and during peer and self -assessment
  • is tangible and measurable

Below are a few ideas to help make teacher clarity effective and engaging in virtual instruction.

3-2-1 Success Criteria Evaluation with Pear Deck: Before and/or after a lesson, the teacher can use Pear Deck to ask students to self-evaluate their knowledge of the target. Click here for a Pear Deck template.

Checklist for Success Criteria: Use a check-list format where students check the success criteria they feel confident about before and/or after a lesson. For math teachers, consider using a platform such as Desmos. Click here for the example shown.

Zoom Poll: Joellen Killion shared a strategy using Zoom in which she set up a quick poll for participants to review and self-evaluate the learning target. Similar to previous examples, this could be a really great tool for teachers to compare responses at the beginning and end of the lesson.

Numbering Success Criteria: By numbering the success criteria and asking students what success criteria they’d like to focus on, teachers can then use Zoom breakout rooms to divide students by heterogenous or homogenous groupings. The breakout room can provide a space for students to ask questions or give support on specific success criteria.

Ashley Taplin is a secondary math specialist for a large public Texas school district. She works with schools to implement PLCs, incorporate strategies in the classroom, and write curriculum for our district. She taught high school math and was a department dean before her current role as a district math specialist. In the summer of 2013, she traveled on a Fulbright scholarship to Germany and gained new knowledge and perspective in curriculum, diversity, and differentiation.

This year she will present the online seminar Increase Student Perseverance to Improve MATH Learning for the Bureau of Education and Research.

Visit Ashley’s blog at

Contact her at 713.824.2939