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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Teaching: Two Many Chefs, Not Enough Cooks

There are countless ed consultants and administrators, public and private, in our midst today. I get numerous emails daily that advertise their offerings online and in real time. I am grateful for this outpouring of potential support.

I worry too, however, that we're at a time when there may be too many chefs and not enough cooks, which means we've got a lot of professionals that have left direct teaching in order to consult or lead and not enough teacher leaders who are still teaching.

How do we remedy this gap?

First, we need to move towards more distributive models of leadership so that teaching is not such a demeaning and oppressive profession. Teachers spend lots of time learning and obtaining professional credentials, and then when they begin teaching they are often in situations when they have to "do as they are told," rather than use their expertise and experience to teach well. This is one factor that leads many teachers to leave the profession--a factor that opposes Pink's research in Drive which supports autonomy, mastery, and purpose with regard to optimal leading and working.

Next, we need to build in more hybrid models of teaching and learning. These models combine direct teaching with leadership. In this way teachers are leading each other while using their expertise to teach students well. This keeps the leading and teaching real, empowered, and engaging.

Then we have to match these consultant groups with greater depth and result with teaching teams. Too often consultants come and go with little ownership of final results or impact. We need better models of collaboration so that educators and consultants are accountable for outcomes.

I'm sure there's more to say, research, and ideate with regard to this issue, but these are some beginning comments. What would you add?