Hansel and Gretel
Instruction is . . .
Formal Education is Three Things: Curriculum. Instruction. Assessment. Always, those three components exist within ever-shifting political, social, and economic contexts. And — whew — those contexts have multiple layers which are often in conflict with one another: the classroom, the academic subject, the school, the community, the city/town, the state, American society… Every school day, each learner and teacher implicitly or explicitly negotiates (or not) those three educational ingredients, their contexts and contextual layers;
Instruction precedes Assessment. Instruction is the skilled facilitation of the learner’s understanding and engagement of the forest;
Learners require Safety and Trust. Classrooms, especially for middle school and high school learners, can be emotionally precarious places. Learning requires that learners risk themselves often, their answers, positions, insights, feelings, beliefs, dreams… As such, the learner’s willingness to risk requires a classroom environment of emotional safety and trust. The teacher’s, and school’s, first job is to create and protect that culture;
Great Teaching is Three Things:
- the teacher’s wise heart for each learner,
- the teacher’s always-curious and creative brain, and
- the teacher’s commitment to the mission of the school;
Masterful Teaching is the Sustained Evolution of Those Three Things toward an Imagined, Shared Ideal;
Teaching and Learning are Extraordinarily Complex. The multitude of competing, always evolving, educational values, theories, and practices, none a clear-cut winner over two thousand years of formal, Western education, reveals that a single path to learning is an illusion;
Especially in Growth Schools, Powerful School Leadership Empowers Teachers. With clear goals and processes, powerful school leadership empowers and leads the vast capacities of the teachers and staff toward the continually improving achievement of its mission;
Teaching is the Professional Service to Learners, not vice-versa. Schools must be built (e.g., courses, schedules, extra-curricular activities) around the needs of the learner, not those of the adults who work in those buildings;
For the Future of Our Society, Teaching Must Become More Ennobled. Teaching is the only profession which carries the mandate of transmitting our society’s knowledge and values to every member of our future society, our young people. Daily, teachers transmit all the essential knowledge and values for our society to perpetuate and evolve itself: the essential components and nuances of our principal language, English, and those of other languages influential to who we are, including Spanish, French, Chinese, and Latin; the histories, arts, and literatures of who we are in this pluralized society, and where we came from and why, and the histories, arts, and literatures of those peoples and places, too; the essential legal and economic principles that underpin us; the laws of biology, chemistry, and physics; how our human bodies and minds work; how our environment interacts with us and with itself; the emerging capacities and relevance of technology, like blogs; and, certainly not least, basic morality and ethics, as right from wrong behaviors and attitudes are taught and managed all the time; and
Teachers are a School’s Most Important Asset. As so very many schools struggle to more powerfully influence our young people, as society rightly expects, the last way to get there is to devalue the teaching profession. We devalue the profession in countless ways, some understandable, many abhorrent. Today, most public education teachers will tell you that the profession lacks the status that it must have in order to achieve what society expects of it. In a small way, one goal of this blog is to improve that status by providing sincere insight into many of the challenges of public education — and ideas for moving ahead.