14 Comments

  1. So completely true, too many teachers handball their authority in the corridors yet wonder why they then struggle in the classroom.

  2. dpmoric

    I could not agree more. The school culture determines what ones classroom will be like and especially when the teacher is invested in the school's culture.

  3. I cannot concur with this statement enough. Forget SMART Boards or iPads, it's shared vision and distributed leadership like the kind that occurs when we're all 'school teachers' that our schools will really transform. This process, though, needs to be modeled throughout our boards and districts.

  4. Great post! My school is beginning The Leader in Me – a character education program (I don't like this word!) revolving around Covey's 7 Habits. The Leader in Me is not a program in the traditional sense – it is a "way of doing business."

    As school ends this week, our staff is being trained in the 7 habits next week. I believe this will move us along the continuum of being school teachers. This program is a focus on raising kids to be leaders of themselves and others. I believe this is what we need now.

    You can check out info on the program at http://www.theleaderinme.org/

  5. I absolutely agree with what you're saying here, George! For the past couple of years, the principal at my school has really been trying to get people "sharing" about what's happening in their classrooms, and helping others put these same practices into place in their classrooms too. We use time at staff meetings to share success stories, we email others about what we're doing, and we offer to help others too, and we have planning time together in grade teams so that we can continue to share ideas with each other. This is a slow process, but things are changing, and I think that's a good thing.

    Getting students to speak up for their needs and wants too, also helps. Last year, my students started to blog for the first time. I was teaching a straight Grade 1 class at the time, and when my students started using Kidblog, I helped get the other Grade 1 teachers and some of the Grade 2 teachers set up blogs too. The Grade 1's all had "public blogs," but the Grade 2's that had blogs were all private ones. Students really liked the public audience though, and from their first day in Grade 2, many asked their teachers about blogging. Now the Grade 2's are blogging this year too, and with "public blogs." This year, many of the teachers at the school have started student blogs, and I think that this comes from hearing what other teachers are doing, but also hearing about what students want. I think that the student voice can help create these great "school teachers" too.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post and really getting me thinking!
    Aviva

  6. I really like the idea about blogging…it seems like too often teachers are competitive and don't want to share. I guess some feel that if they lift a colleague up, they are keeping themselves down! The sooner we all pull together to help nurture independent thinkers…and realize that we are all responsible for helping this growth take place, the better. I'm a second grade teacher….never thought about blogging with my students! However….I would still love iPads to get this going though! 🙂

  7. Sandra (@technolit)

    "They see, even in mistakes, that an opportunity to talk with a child is an opportunity to build a relationship."

    Great blog post, as always, George. The quote above is where it all begins.

    I did a small research project in my school while working on my MEd a few years ago. I had our Grade 7/8 teachers coordinate two groups of students for me to interview…. a group of perceived "engaged" students and one of "disengaged" kids.

    During my interviews, the students' reasons for their interest, or lack of interest, came out loud and clear. Although they did discuss relationships with peers, several of them brought up their rapport with teachers as one of the greatest factors. They weren't looking for anything major from teachers either. I was amazed at the concurrence among them (they literally lit up & sat taller!) when they discussed that all they wanted was for teachers to say, "Hi," when they passed them in the halls. They simply needed to be noticed for even existing. One relayed a time when he was waiting at the office to share "something good" with the principal and felt so deflated when a teacher walked in, saw him there, and said "What did you do this time?" Before that moment, he had been so filled with pride that he was finally there for a positive reason. I'm sure his subsequent meeting with the principal was somehow changed.

    It was one thing for them to feel valued by their peers, but it was the teachers' actions ("school" teachers, not just their "classroom" teachers) that most greatly affected their sense of belonging & intrinsic value. There is so much more power in that simple "hello" than we realize…. And, all of us know that a happy, secure, engaged student is one who learns to the best of his/her ability.

    A goal for all teachers could be to say hi to every student every day with whom we have eye-contact in the halls, and also to a minimum of 3 students per day who don't even "appear" to see us. Believe me, they notice us….. and they need to know we notice them, too.

    Thanks again for this, George. I'm going to share your link with our school district.

  8. Absolutely! I totally agree – it is all about building long term relationships and trust with pupils – across the whole institution.

  9. Rob Darrow, Ed.D.

    Right on! This is true whether the teacher is face-to-face, online or blended. The difference is always the teacher (as compared to other things like technology or the curriculum). And getting teachers to work outside their four walls is always challenging but occurs when the school has built relationships and trust over time and when teaching is viewed as a cooperative vs. competitive. In the online world, I have had trouble having two online teachers in the same discipline to agree that the same online content is acceptable. Their response always seem to be, "Well, it is ok, but it heeds to have this, this and this." Ultimately for any school to be successful, whether face-to-face or online, teachers need to be able to have control over the curriculum and to tweak it as needed, but they also have to transform to the sharing and cooperative mindset.

  10. SPatras

    So true. In reviewing Provincial Achievement Test results (PAT's) recently with staff we discussed the fact that the celebration of these results is a tribute to all teachers, not just those teaching the specific grades in which the tests are administered. The challenge is putting structures in place that help create a culture where we are all school teachers… this includes our support staff, volunteers etc.

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