Learning is a Process, and so is Teaching
‘Tis the season for professional development. Before the hubbub of students arriving and the frenetic pace of each school day kicks in, this is a great time to get back in touch with why we teach, what great teaching looks like, and how we hold ourselves and our peers accountable to that standard of excellence.
Teacher accountability is a fraught topic, and understandably so. Of course we want to ensure a standard of quality in our school buildings. We want our children to arrive every morning to safe, nurturing environments that will appropriately challenge them to learn new things and consider different perspectives. Of course we do.
But as always, in the name of ensuring a standard of quality, there is a balance to be struck. The easiest way to standardize is to make everything the same. Teachers teaching the same age group should get the same results, right? So we group students into similar age groups and give them all the same test. We tie teacher compensation and school funding to this sameness. By making things the same, we throw out nuance; we throw out situational awareness; we throw out the individuality of the person who teaches and the individuality of each student in the room. When we back individuals into a corner and take away professional judgment, we incentivize cheating and corner cutting.
But we can’t do nothing; we need some standards. We need to provide teachers with guidance, and we need administrators to have ways to evaluate and coach their teachers.
What I love about teaching frameworks
Teaching frameworks, like the Danielson and Marzano systems, work to find a balance. These frameworks define what great teaching looks like, providing a common language to assist administrators and educators in having professional conversations to improve their craft. Here’s what I love:
They recognize that teaching is complex.
These frameworks don’t impose artificial sameness across age groups and classrooms. Instead, they push toward a standard of quality by improving the skill and professionalism of teachers.
They lay out a discrete set of important teaching strategies and techniques.
The frameworks are slightly different, and I think that’s okay. The important thing is to have consistent strategies that teachers are improving on from month to month, year to year.
A framework provides structure and focus.
The ways to improve instruction feel limitless, and it’s important and helpful to focus a teacher’s attention. Putting those best practices in a structure reminds us every day what to stay focused on as we develop our lessons. Having those strategies organized in a framework makes it easier to look at, remember, give feedback on, and improve them.
They recognize that improvement is a process—ever-evolving and revisited.
For teachers to improve, we need to expect ups and downs. Lessons will be learned and forgotten; teachers will need reminders just like students.
As we head back into the school year, let’s remember that teaching is as much of a process as learning. It is a very human, personal and passionate process with highs and lows. Getting better at it requires feedback and compassionate mentorship. By choosing a teaching framework that aligns with your school’s goals and values, you can create sustainable strategies to make this school year the best one yet!
Want to learn more about teaching frameworks? Check out these links!
This week’s post was written by Pear Deck’s Chief Educator Michal Eynon-Lynch.