Sunday, July 16, 2017

Teach Well: A Systematic Approach?

I reached out to a colleague to learn of her plans for the upcoming school year. I reached out as this colleague has authority over my practice and decision making so I wanted to be prepared for the new initiatives.

As I read through the host of initiatives, I found that I agreed that those areas of teaching/learning should be prioritized. There was one area for which I disagreed, however. I didn't see real merit in that focus and wondered why it was chosen? In hindsight, I should have queried more about that choice, and will do so in the future.

Instead, I noted that I disagreed with the choice since I felt that most students already grasped those concepts well, and toady as I scrutinize the NBPTS guide, What Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do, I wonder if the effort I disagreed with was chosen with systematic process.

It's integral that the decisions we make and efforts we engage in do respond to a systematic process, a process that can be led with questions like this:

  • What are the goals we want to meet? (In this case, the goal is teaching standards and embedding the standards of practice with behavior and mindset)
  • Where do we currently meet those goals? Where aren't we meeting those goals?
  • Why are we meeting the goals we meet, and why aren't we meeting the goals we don't meet?
  • What do we need to do to better meet the goals we've set? 
Good analysis is part of a systematic approach. Transparency and inclusion with that analysis as well as the difficult debate and conversations that follow are important too. 

As educators we can elevate our leadership, voice and choice by asking about the systematic processes in place that lead to the decisions we're asked to follow. We can inquire about the rationale, research, and focus of those processes, and we can challenge processes with evidence, experience, and observation that we feel can be revised to better serve teaching students well.

As the NBPTS guide suggests in Proposition Four:Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience. Similarly it's important that our system leadership employ systematic practice, reflection and revision too as we work together to develop relevant, meaningful and successful teaching/learning communities for every child.