Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Are Great Teachers Born or Made?

 After reading the NY Times Magazine article here:
I ordered the book Teach Like a Champion.  I liked some of the items on the Taxonomy.  I've been using the cold-call questioning technique for years and I like how it gets every mind in the room thinking about the question because every mind in the room is worried about if she/he will be called on.  I like the use of positive classroom management: identifying how we would like children to behave and a right way of being rather than focusing on behavior problems.
I think that the combination of strong content knowledge so that the teacher can provide just-in-time instruction is as important as the ability to manage the classroom environment.

I want to believe that having a rubric of teacher behaviors that are proven effective (or "best practices" as my admin loves to say) will be enough to raise student achievement.  However, I wonder if the article and the book haven't missed a step.  Each of the effective teachers that Lemov studied and identified these techniques from went through a process where by they developed the technique in the first place.  What was that process?  How can we lead our teachers-in-training through a similar experience to develop their skills.

I guess what I am saying is this - My cohort of student teachers all read Pedagogy of the Oppressed, loved it, put our student desks into a circle, and expected that so-called best practice to solve our classroom woes.  Too few of us tried to deeply understand the process by which Freire decided that he wanted his students to sit in a circle.  To few of us wanted to deeply explore our unique teaching circumstances and develop techniques that work with our students. 

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