February 28, 2009

Teachers on a pedestal

So I am here at the last day of the PLC conference listening to Robert Eaker, who is hilarious. He is the first of two speakers we will see today.  Yesterday was another great day.  In addition to Richard DuFour we saw Michael Fullan, Lisa Carter, and Timothy D. Kanold.

Michael Fullan began his session by talking about implementation.  He stated that, to nobody's surprise, in the first stages of implementation things usually get better before they get worse. But, he said, although it is important to make sure everyone has "training" and is ready to start, it is equally important to start.  Fullan asked that we adopt the "Ready, Fire, Aim" theory of implementation.  Think about this theory and what it means to you...how do you think it would look and what would be the benefits of implementing something this way?  What about the disadvantages?

Fullan also talked about the importance of teachers and the system they are a part of.  First of all, Fullan believes that teachers need to be placed on at least an equal pedestal to students, that is, we need to create a system in which the teacher is at least equal to the student.  Out of this line of thought comes the idea that if something isn't working don't look for someone to blame...look instead at where the system fails.  

That is not to say, of course, that teachers shouldn't be held accountable.  And with that he moved on to his next idea, which was creating success in a collaborative environment.  Basically, within our traditional system, it is difficult to rate ineffective teaching without somebody getting defensive.  I know that if someone tells me something I am doing is ineffective, I am most likely going to get defensive.  Fullan demanded that we drop this type of thinking.  Identifying ineffective teaching and moving forward is a crucial development that the system needs to foster.  He also argued that it is possible to identify ineffective teaching and not be judgmental about it.  I am not sure, however, that he made that sound of an argument.  What he did say, in a roundabout way, was that a true collaborative atmosphere would ensure this type of thinking.  And then I got it.  If everyone is working together to improve student learning and their own teaching methods, then identifying ineffectiveness would be part of the system of that collaboration.  Teachers would be looking at getting better, not based only on their own standards, but by asking for feedback and comparing their success with that of other teachers.  

1 comment:

  1. Just to clarify...I am home now. I am not still at the conference, I don't know why this blog didn't go up sooner.