Monday, July 21, 2008

The Essences of Teaching: No. 3 -- Share, Spread, Show

Third in a Series of Three

(Review Part 1, Part 2)

And thirdly, great teachers, share what their doing—the pitfalls and panaceas—with others. The best teachers serve as resource not only for the students in their classrooms to other teachers down the hall, and beyond. They build bridges of collaboration and reflection, of experience and experimentation, and strategies and support. Teachers who share ideas, concerns, plans and materials redouble their own ability to create meaningful lessons for their classes.

Great teachers spread the word of their students' work (and their own expertise) by showcasing it with their administrators, parents, and community as their audience. It's important personally and professionally to let the world know what we accomplish with our students—how we strive and thrive in the classroom. Having stakeholders see us at our best can take the edge off when we risk a plan that doesn't turn out was well as we had hoped. Somewhere along the line, teachers as a profession became shy about telling others about the excellent work they do. Today we can't afford to be reclusive.

In this age, it's key to success of our profession to invite others into our classrooms and to show them what school is like nowadays. (My, how different from a decade ago!) Explain how we meet the challenges in creative, effective ways, and how we foster meaning and achievement for our students. Some teachers would argue that this is showing off. Well, yes it is, but as the old saying goes, "quality doesn't sell itself." Teachers must share their stories as well as their scholarship with other stakeholders besides their students.

Showing others our good work despite myriad challenges of low funding, lacking prestige, rising numbers of learning disabilities, and infrequent moral support from media, is good for everybody's sake. Students gain security and motivation knowing they're in the care of pros. Parents can rest assured their students will be equipped for tomorrow. And teachers can enjoy receiving some credit for their labors. Everyone benefits when teachers show the many, many ways we are effectively meeting students differentiated needs.

Now as the back-to-school season starts, is time to reflect, and shape ways to tell our stories, lay claim to our scholarship for the love of learning, and share the good news about teaching and learning in today's schools with everyone who will listen and then some.

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