teaching-insideout

Just another onMason weblog

Archive for June, 2010


What does it mean to “think like a teacher”?

Consider the people you know in different professions. What would they tell you about how their professional training taught them to think? What is their habit of mind for their daily practice?

For example, a lawyer may tell you she was taught to think about arguments, claims and warrants; an engineer may indicate that he understands logic and problem-solving, and a scientist may say she follows the scientific process and examines evidence.

Next, I ask you to blog about what you think it means “to think like a teacher”.

What is essential to “thinking like a teacher”? Is there one key factor?  Is there a common set of thinking?

Does the thinking necessitate:

  • a common knowledge base?
  • specialization in one or more subject content areas?
  • a common set of courses?
  • a Master’s degree?
  • state certification?
  • passing the PPST tests?
  • being National Board Certified?

Join the conversation!

Teacher Be Gone!

Imagine schools without teachers. Are we headed there?  There sure are a lot of efforts to get rid of teachers. DC is just one example- and even with the support of teacher unions.

As in any profession, there are those who are ineffective and in “teacherland” that translates lately to students’ test scores. But what would happen if we reversed the psychology and actually said to teachers:

WE CARE ABOUT YOU BECAUSE YOU MATTER TO OUR WORLD.

WE APPRECIATE WHAT YOU DO FOR STUDENTS EVERYDAY.

WE WANT TO SUPPORT YOUR PERSONAL EFFORTS TO IMPROVE YOUR PRACTICE SO YOU IN TURN CAN IMPACT STUDENTS’ LEARNING.

Why should students invest 50K to become a teacher, with few teaching positions available,  and then be  scrutinized and subjected to a narrow scope of outside assessment? Standards do matter and so do teachers.

There has little conversation about how teachers are motivated to improve their own practice. They are after all the direct players; the ones we all want to be “highly qualified”; the ones who are held responsible for improving students’ learning and enacting a flood of standards. How are teachers encouraged to improve the quality of their teaching?

Is it by the use of incentives like merit pay, a tier professional pay scale, or a “race to the top” by school? Is it by punishments with hordes of teachers being dismissed from their school? The current approach for motivating teachers does not appear to working and some might even just suggest we break the mold.

Despite teachers’ frustrations with the educational system and perhaps the system with them, the one thing teachers know they can change is themselves.

What might happen if we ask teachers to choose to study their own reform effort with school colleagues in order to improve students’ learning?

Revolutionary? You betcha! Students and teachers deserve better than our current approach.