Imperial Academy Teachers Prepare for Academic Year

EDMOND—Dozens of Imperial Academy teachers and staff members are preparing for the upcoming school year by studying a variety of teaching techniques to improve the experience for students in the classroom and online. The preparations include weekly two-hour meetings and simulated classroom situations, all of which revolves around learning to “teach like a champion.”

Teach Like a Champion consists of dozens of specific techniques of instruction from author Doug Lemov’s extensive research and observation of top-level teachers. Previous IA principal Wayne Turgeon advocated using the book several years ago, and new principal Joel Hilliker read and recommended to teachers the updated version of the book. Its 62 techniques include tactical-level tips such as “Right Is Right” (holding out for answers that are “all the way right”), “Format Matters” (holding out for the proper expression of the right answer) and “Culture of Error” (reducing the fear of stating an incorrect answer for the sake of increased participation).

“These are terrific techniques for improving the experience for our students,” said Mr. Hilliker. “They give our teachers specific tools for getting kids thinking, writing and communicating at a higher level. And making the classroom more engaging and fun at the same time.”

In May, teachers and staff read through the 512-page book, meeting twice a week to discuss their thoughts and ideas on implementation. Mr. Hilliker asked assistant principal Cole March to create a training series for Imperial Academy teachers during June. On Fridays, March leads a two-hour interactive lecture using the book, its associated videos and discussion with teachers. Teachers also attend and participate in classroom simulations where they adapt the Teach Like a Champion tactics to other teachers and staff in the room and connected online who fill the role of students.

“Designing the trainings has been a fun, rewarding challenge,” March said. “I am learning a great deal, and I believe others are too.”

Imperial Academy is also finalizing its revamped teaching roster for the coming academic year. Twelve full-time teachers and about 35 part-time teachers will teach classes including Algebra, Bible, Journalism, Microsoft Apps, Study Skills, Video Editing, Wood Shop and World History.

“Teaching is like other trades. You want the best tools, and you want to use them as effectively as possible,” March said. “In the short time we’ve been training this summer, I already see in the simulations teachers using the techniques and becoming more skilled at teaching. Ultimately, it is the students who will benefit the most from their efforts. That is our goal: to best prepare God’s young people for their tremendous future.”

“Training to be teachers—we know all about this in God’s Church,” Mr. Hilliker said. “We are called to be teachers forever. So we want to become the best teachers we can possibly be. Matching the vision of our calling with the tools we need is really exciting.”

The 2021-2022 Imperial Academy academic year begins August 16.