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What made me grow

November 28, 2011

Teacher Musings:

How do you change a teacher?  I guess a more positive spin on this question is “how do teachers improve their practice?”  But, let’s be frank.  When a lot of people say the second statement, they really mean the first.  And maybe they have a good reason.  Maybe there is some tried-and-true practice that would benefit students that a teacher isn’t using.  And maybe, just maybe, telling them about this practice informally, or even in their evaluation meeting, would make them use it.

But does that really change . . .or improve . . . anyone’s teaching?

Maybe I just have a problem with being “told” what to do (Mom and Dad – feel free to chime in here).  But I never directly improved from someone just telling me what I should be doing.  Here is what others (coaches, adminstrators, collegues, etc.) have done that have made me change – and improve – my practice:

  • – Suggested that something was wrong or missing with my instruction (especially when analysing student responses) and directing me to resources about this issue.
  • – Listened to me talk about my concerns in my class and validated and clarified what I was saying until I found my point.
  • – Gave me books and articles related to topics I was thinking about.
  • – Looked at student work with me and talked to me about it.
  • – Shared what they were doing in their classroom with concrete resources – and/or let me observe them.
  • – Drank a beer with me while I vented about something – and then drank another beer while we talked through a solution.
  • – Gave an inspiring speech (usually another teacher).
  • – Was humble about their own mistakes and shortcomings before giving me advice.

I’m not saying that teachers shouldn’t be held accountable for some things.  But being “held accountable” for something independent of these other factors listed above rarely leads to growth.  Want to change a teacher?  Give them a coach, send them out to observe and set them up with an inquiry group.  This will lead to growth that is real and owned – not simply compliance.

Yummy Stuff:

In continued Thanksgiving follow-up, here are some pictures along with the link to the wonderful seitan roast recipe.


Mashed Potatoes with Kale (and gravy in the background)

Seitan Roast

From → Reflection, Seitan

  1. Did you read the New Yorker article on coaching?

    I have been thinking about the impact of coaches on my teaching career a lot lately. This year, I don’t have one assigned to me but thankfully my coach from last year is still there for me, even though she does not get paid to do it anymore.

    • That is awesome! You are so lucky to have that! I LOVE our writing coach – she is truly amazing and she continually makes me a better teacher!

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