14 May 2006

Advice from the Boss Lady

I talked with the Boss Lady on Friday about my continuing struggle to help teachers focus on student learning. Right or wrong, I think this is the most essential component to making change happen in the classroom for all students. I don't really care if teachers ascribe to a constructivist model or adopt an inquiry stance or consistently use brain-based strategies. There are lots of things out there that can help students learn and I know that teachers need to find models that work best for both their students and them. The problem right now is that most of the teachers I work with---especially at the secondary level---are only considering what model supports teaching alone.

The Boss Lady suggested that I put the issue back to teachers in the form of "What would you like me to look for when I visit your classroom?" Keep in mind that this is not meant as an evaluative situation, but rather as a way of coaching instruction. Will teachers say the "right" answers but not internalize them? In visiting their classes and seeing the disconnect between what they say and what they do, will we then be able to have the kinds of conversations that might lead to change?

Most of what I'm reading these days seems to support the idea that there has to be a change in practice prior to a change in beliefs. Maybe I just need to pick a few instructional strategies and convince them to give them a whirl...have them collect some student work...and then look at it with them. Whatever happens, I need to find some way to move their thinking into the "student learning" realm. I'll give the Boss Lady's advice a try.

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