So THATS what good teaching looks like.

This year I have been spending one day a week at an elementary school as part of my administrative credential program. At first I was a bit apprehensive; I am a high school teacher, I have no interest or knowledge in the k-8 world. I have found the experience to be very interesting. I am learning a lot about elementary schools, and I am learning a lot about younger students. It turns out that they are not so scary after all. 

Last week a math teacher asked me if I would please come by her room and observe her lesson because she wanted to hear my feedback. So this week the Principal and I dropped by the room for an observation. I realized that in 18 years of teaching I had never sat in another teachers classroom to specifically look at teaching, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I was stunned. Not only had I never seen teaching like that, I had never even imagined this level of good teaching! I had a hard time taking notes because I was so fascinated with how she was managing the class. Strategy after strategy being employed without so much as a moments pause. It was like the whole hour was perfectly planned, scripted, and rehearsed. I had never seen such a thing. 

I left the school that day not feeling very good about myself. In comparing my teaching with what I had seen in the math classroom I could only come to one conclusion; I suck. I consider myself a very reflective teacher. I think about how every lesson goes, and how I can improve the lesson next time. I do a lot of professional development, almost all of it on my own dime. I go to conferences and workshops, I use Twitter and G+, and yes, I read blogs. So how is it I could go this long without ever seeing really really good teaching?

When I started teaching (yes, it was actually in the last century) the profession was really one of individuals. We went in our rooms and closed the door. We did not have high standards for our performance. My first Principal told me on my very first day in the classroom “If no one bleeds you are doing good.” We did not collaborate, and we NEVER acknowledged that  another teacher was better than oneself. In the last few years we have started to collaborate and we have some levels of accountability. But we don’t have a system of identifying really good teachers, and learning from them. Until this week I didn’t realize we needed one.

2 thoughts on “So THATS what good teaching looks like.

  1. Mark, the "I suck" realization is very familiar to me – and probably conditio sine qua non for development that goes beyond wasting too much time on the beautiful instead of the useful. As for your amazement, I hope you'll let us know what exactly you saw, and why you were impressed by this…-)

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