What is teaching?
Too often teaching has been narrowed down to a very basic checklist of
performances that can only be identified if they are in a specific sequential
order. I often wonder how we got
here. Where did this idea that all
instruction has to look and sound exactly the same way in order to be deemed
I have the very unique privilege to see teachers in action
in their classrooms and I have found a plethora of different ways of providing effective
instruction to students. I have
witnessed master teachers at their craft; they can be mesmerizing in the way
that they engage students in content.
Part of my job is to analyze teacher practice, so I’d consider myself a
pretty good observer and interpreter of what is happening in any given
I’m glad to report that no two teachers teach the same way,
because no two teachers contain the same body of knowledge, experience and
skill set. And more importantly
there is no recipe for effective instruction that can be applied across the
board of teaching with a paintbrush.
We know that there are great elements and strategies that are evident in
effective instruction, but there is no one size fits all when it comes to
In this new era of teacher evaluations I wonder how often
across the country teacher practice has been reduced to a simple checklist for
something that is so complex? I
challenge the idea that it is solely up to the teacher to demonstrate effective
practice. There might be a
responsibility on the shoulders of those that evaluate to probe a little
further beyond the checklists and sequences and to actually analyze teacher
The ability to recognize and analyze effective teaching
practices is a skill that also carries it’s own set of complexities. It is not enough to pass through
classrooms and ask a few students to explain what they are learning. A true and meaningful teacher
evaluation requires that both parties, teacher and evaluator, are equally
knowledgeable about teaching practice and high quality evidence. Maybe effective evaluations aren’t just
about the teacher.