Now that you have decided to read this because you think this is going to be an assault on teacher directed instruction, or one size fits all professional development, I am actually going to propose that we do some sittin’ n’ gettin to improve our practice. Now, this is not your sit and listen to an expert tell you how it is. I think to improve instruction, we need to have teachers spend time in each other’s classrooms. They need to see how students are attending to classroom instruction and activities. I have been amazed by some of the data I have collected while doing classroom walkthroughs this year. Students actually do pay attention to a lecture done right. Cooperative learning only works if the teacher actively coaches instead of passively sitting on the sideline. Teacher proximity makes a huge difference. Questioning techniques can make or break a lesson. Every effective lesson includes some sort of informal assessment. Teachers who take the time to greet students at the door have better discipline. A personal story from the teacher often makes the students stop everything and listen. These are things I never noticed until I started visiting classrooms to watch what was going on. One of the most powerful experiences I ever had as a classroom teacher was some feedback from a fellow teacher after she watched me teach. I had no idea that 90% of my questions were asked at the knowledge based level. I also had no idea that I always allowed the same five or six student to answer the questions because I never directed my questions directly to students. For some reason we have failed to harness the power of these teacher to teacher visits. Are you willing to improve your practice by watching students in another class? You might really enjoy watching how great your neighbor is in the next room….. Go out and take advantage of Sit N’ Get!
Picture Credit: Dave Meister