Monday, October 4, 2010

wait, teachers working together?

And another shocking moment in the public debate over education... 
NPR reports that
Teachers learn from each other, they learn from collaborating with one another, and watching expert teachers teach.  It's not a competition.

I can hear the gasps from here. You're shocked, right?

No?  No?

Because you already know it's true. Because you're a teacher and you know you learn best from watching expert teachers- maybe when you were student teaching or during a teaching internship when you saw expert teachers at work. Or maybe during student teaching when you saw not-so-great teachers at work and made notes of what to do differently. Or maybe when you work on teams at your school to plan lessons and units together.

I love when I hear a media story about something we already know works. It's nice that good programs are getting press amongst the "fire them all", "merit pay" and "value added" debates, but it's also frustrating to know that this is news.

I heard this story on NPR on my drive home today- and was impressed yet frustrated with it. This is what works- and what many school districts already have in place. This is why the 9th Circuit Court ruled that a highly-qualified teacher should not be someone doing an internship while teaching- highly qualified teachers should have spend a year in the schools observing before they dive in. No one should entire a classroom as a teacher with only their memories of their own days in education- they should have seen many different models of expert teachers leading different types of lessons, dealing with behavior problems, balancing learners at different academic levels, and navigating the school system.

I don't think the 9th Circuit Court was out to get Teach for America- despite what I've been reading in education blogs that quote TFA as "the best thing education has going for it".  It is because true reform will not come from bringing highly educated people into the schools, but instead by giving teachers experience watching other teachers, collaborating together, and encouraging teachers to be thoughtful about their practice. As a parent you should be upset if your child has a first year teacher with no experience and no internship or student teaching. Those teachers have limited experience to pull from when problems arise- they are merely testing idea after idea that first year to see what works, making mistake after mistake along the way, having no idea someone else could have helped them from their own experience.

So more of this- more talk about collaboration, teachers working together, watching one another, and teacher reflection. Let's focus on what works and then get back to what matters- teaching the kids.

1 comment:

magpie said...

Your blog does this on its own.
Thanks to you and other poster's for being so collaborative.
Let's give ourselves a pat on the back ☺☺☺