Saturday, October 24, 2015

Responsibility to Teach Well

I have a responsibility to teach well. I have a responsibility to do my best by students. Sometimes that responsibility finds me at a point of disruption because what I know to be true is questioned and challenged. Those are the most frustrating points of teaching for me.

For example, once I wanted to use software that I deemed profitable to students and I was prohibited from using the software. I did not agree with the rationale, and the person(s) who made the decision was unwilling to discuss it with me. I became frustrated.

Another time I noticed a poster on the wall that I deemed inappropriate. I spoke up and nothing was done. Then the poster appeared again, and I spoke up again. Leaders even agreed with me, but the poster persists. Why? I've reached out to talk about it, but no one wants to have the discussion.

A third event found me teaching in a way that I thought best given the CCSS goal. I was told that my way did not fit the way of others. My actions were challenged. I've reached out to understand this better.

There are times, however, when the challenge is made and the good research, rationale, and new ideas that support the challenge are shared. For example several years ago I was introduced to the SRSD approach. I initially scoffed at what seemed like a too-laborious approach for the result. Yet when I embedded the work in my practice with depth, students writing and, even better, their confidence related to writing rose. I was convinced.

Also, I'm continually improving my craft as I watch my colleagues work their magic. Their work inspires me and lifts my work as well.

No one knows it all, and I'm the first one to change my practice when I see or hear of work that truly impacts children well. However, on the other hand, it's difficult for me to change with regard to directives that don't seem to match research, engagement, or good result. Yet perhaps in these cases I simply don't understand why these directives matter or make a difference.

Similar to my students, understanding the rationale of directives and initiatives matters with regard to my ability to successfully implement and support directives. Further, it's important that the rationale is one that pertains to student growth, engagement, and positive development too.

As educators we have a responsibility to teach well, and with that responsibility sometimes comes a need to speak up and ask questions. If we feel demeaned, overpowered, or under-respected, we may become frustrated or perhaps silent, but truly if we want to serve children well we have to reach out respectfully for common understanding and evolving, collaborative practice that impacts children with care and strength.