There is a rather disparaging yet humorous quote about teachers that says, “Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.” It is a rather cheeky statement, but the truth of the matter is that superior instructors must do. Mere knowledge and doing is not enough to be an effective teacher, however. Great teachers both educate and inspire.
Excelsior Classes is dedicated to excellence in instruction in the online world and grew out of two critical ideas. The first idea is that tomorrow’s world needs deep thinkers, and students must learn to engage in deep thinking to be relevant in an increasingly superficial culture. Deep thinking is hard work, and it requires patience and practice. It is the result of excellence in training and education. As William Byers asserts, “Deep thinking is the essential ingredient in every significant learning experience, which leads to a new way to think about education.”
The second critical notion is that teachers matter. Deep thinking does not occur in all educational settings and is usually found only when students are passionately engaged in learning. It is therefore of paramount importance to have outstanding instruction. It is true that the right instructor makes all the difference in the world for the student experience. Research indicates that teachers who are content experts with high cognitive abilities directly impact student achievement. Studies also show that students benefit from repeated exposure and interaction with highly effective teachers.
Founded in July 2016, Excelsior Classes was a lightning bolt of an idea that resulted from the query, “What is true excellence in homeschool virtual education, and how would one go about obtaining it?”
EXCELSIOR TEACHER DISTINCTIVES
Excelsior Classes seeks to connect outstanding teachers with homeschool students. Our teachers meet five criteria:
- They are content masters, who absolutely know their subject matter.
- They are passionate about their subject and seek to instill that same sense of wonder and enthusiasm in others.
- They create that excitement in the online classroom.
- They see the unlimited potential in each student and relate to him or her in a Christ-like manner.
- They understand and relate to their content area from a distinctly Christian worldview.
Many educational settings tend to stifle teacher creativity and become rigid with policies and procedures over time. Instead of being a school, Excelsior Classes is organized as a consortium (an association) of teachers. Policies and procedures are teacher-directed, and administrative demands and protocols are kept to a minimum so that teachers can focus on teaching.
It is Excelsior Classes’ hope that a shared vision coupled with empowered teachers resonates with students and inspires them to be deep thinkers and to learn more, be more, and do more than they thought possible.
World Scientific. “Deep Thinking: What Mathematics Can Teach Us About the Mind.” World Scientific, Nov. 2014, http://www.worldscientific.com/worldscibooks/10.1142/9247#t=aboutBook. Accessed 4 Feb. 2017.
Policies Studies Associates. “Teacher Quality and Student Achievement: At a Glance.” Center for Public Education, 4 Oct. 2005, www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Staffingstudents/Teacher-quality-and-student-achievement-At-a-glance. Accessed 4 Feb. 2017.
Jodi Guerra is an Instructor and Coordinator with Excelsior Classes, a consortium of online teachers dedicated to excellence in online instruction. She has been involved in the education of children and adults serving in public schools, private schools, and corporate America. For the last twenty years, Jodi has worked with homeschool students in private classes, tutoring situations, and in the virtual world of online education. She seeks to make every learning situation fun yet productive. Besides teaching, Jodi loves to read and finds both cooking and sewing to be creative expressions.