08 December 2006

Snipe Hunting

There's a proposal in the district that would pay teachers $100 for "good" units. I don't want to go into great deal about the "good" part here, but rest assured that it is being described and a template is being generated.

What I do wonder is whether or not good lessons and units are transferrable from one teacher and classroom to another. Can we really distill everything that goes into good instruction---engaging activities, differentiation, authentic assessment---into a document that can be interpreted the same way in every classroom with the same results? I do believe that a basic scaffold can be adapted by most any teacher to the needs at hand. But a magic lesson that needs no tailoring is akin to snipe hunting in my mind.

So, what communications do we need from good teachers about what works? How do we capture on paper what happens in effective classrooms in order to support other teachers? Can we develop a system to share wheels instead of everyone making their own...or does each one have to be different because every classroom is different?


Anonymous said...

It isn't possible to simply transfer one teacher's stuff to another and have it work -- however, being able to see what does work for another teacher is immensely useful. Think of this kind of sharing as cross-pollination.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of it being cross-pollination. And I like the idea of getting paid for cool ideas. Me, I would compare such units to training wheels. Any teacher has to find their own balance and have their own bike to get anywhere, but someone else's plans might be what they need to steady them.

I know one of my compatriots has been ripping off half of the things I've done in a class I've been teaching for 3 years and he has for the first time. He tweaks stuff, but otherwise, he had little idea what he wanted to do with the new course.

And of course we don't all have rip-offable compatriots next door, so, I think this is a sound enough hunt.

The Science Goddess said...

I don't know that I've run into any teachers who feel proprietary about their stuff (It's good! But you can't have it...sucks to be you, eh?). They are typically pretty supportive. Training wheels are good things.

On a side note, I also wonder about all those lessons we carefully plan and are sure will be home runs...then fall flat as a pancake. What happens?

Mike in Texas said...

When I taught in Florida we were given two days a year to observe other teachers and what works for them. I have never run into another school district with that policy but thought it was a pretty good idea.

The Science Goddess said...

We have a program in the district which provides teachers with 3 days for peer observation. The problem we keep running into is that teachers don't want to leave their classrooms. I absolutely understand that time with kids is at a premium, but we all need to factor in opportunities to learn and grow in our profession.

Anonymous said...

I once had a mentor tell me "You know things are going well when you break off from the plan." A lesson plan is a great place to start, and a unit plan can be immensely helpful (by eliminating a great deal of preparatory work and creative idea planning) but the teacher still has to do the work of making it happen in their classroom. I think this is a great idea, because it will allow us to stop "re-inventing the wheel" and focus on what makes us good teachers.