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Sunday, September 04, 2016

What Is Teaching Well?

After teaching for many years, it can still be challenging to speak up for what you believe in and have learned to be true about teaching and learning. No one educator knows it all, but teachers who have dedicated decades to the profession have certainly gained some knowledge about what works and what doesn't work.

Generally an experienced teacher understands that good teaching is a combination of tried-and-true traditional work plus new researched-based efforts. It's not one or the other, but both.

Good teaching also depends on a level of spontaneity and responsiveness. This means knowing your students well and then choreographing and leading the learning in ways that matter to your students. Good teachers are very observant. They have a stack of great lessons and learning materials, and they employ that collection at the most advantageous times.

Good teachers know that teaching is an organic task--not a static effort. Good teaching is always changing to meet the needs of context, students, new research, and timely materials.

Good teaching is well planned with room for flexibility and response--the kind of "loose-tight" planning that's advantageous to most tasks and efforts that involve people.

Good teaching reaches in and reaches out. We reach in to care for and teach our students well, and we reach out to gain more insight, knowledge, and ideas to do the job well.

Good teaching is a collaborative endeavor that utilizes state-of-the-art effort to learn and employ the best possible teaching/learning plans and effort.

As educators we have to stand up for what we need to teach well including the following:
  • timely, inclusive, transparent communication
  • worthy, collective, collaborative problem analysis
  • good structure, research, and process with regard to decision making
  • substantial time-on-task with students in responsive, sensitive ways
  • significant lead time and value related to planning and preparation
  • educator/student voice and choice
  • up to date materials, tools, furniture, and learning/teaching spaces
  • time for worthwhile, targeted, differentiated, and useful professional learning
  • honest, direct dialogue and debate focused on what students need and why they need it
  • honest, worthy rationale for efforts imposed and directed
As an educator, my focus this year is a focus on good teaching and service to students and families. I will look for honest, worthwhile, and useful ways to build my craft and practice with this in mind in the days to come.