Thursday, January 21, 2010

Educational Leadership Part II

I used to blog for my old company, but they took the blog down. I am
not actually allowed to own the writings I put up on that blog, but as
I reference them on occasion in my writing I am putting those articles
up in my archives here for reference sake. I'll put the tag GS on those
articles noting that they were originally published on the

Educational Leadership Part II

August 6, 2008 – 4:43 am by Brendan

Sometimes some teachers have more realistic expectations than they do high minded ideals of how students should learn.

OldAndrew’s post is a humorous account of the pointlessness of problems inherent with trying to make students do groups work. He makes a pretty convincing point. It is true that most students aren’t skilled at working in groups, they tend to get of topic easily, and often one person in the group does all the work. So if group work were so difficult why would anyone want to use it as a teaching strategy?

As a teacher I used group work a lot. It wasn’t a strategy I tossed in once in a while because it was something I read in a book or something my principal thought up. Groups work was my main teaching set up when I taught 8th grade math and when I taught 4th grade Reading. It worked well for me, but I also spent a lot of time teaching my students how to effectively work in groups. And that is the key, if I had only used group work once in a while it wouldn’t have been a successful teaching strategy. I had to use it on a regular basis and in a predictable pattern so that my students didn’t think of group work as “effectively an extension of breaktime.”

I think Oldandrew’s point in his post was that when administrators require teachers to use certain strategies because research has shown said strategies to be effective they are missing the boat. The teacher should choose and use the strategy that he or she feels is most effective. Then, in my opinion, the teacher should be testing the effectiveness of their teaching on a continuing basis. As a follow up teachers should try out new and different strategies on occasion to build a repertoire of tools to teach with.

Oldandrew obviously has a different idea of what a quality run classroom should look like than Chris Lehman from yesterday.

That is the beauty and the irksome part of trying to figure out education. The workable idea of one educator is the most idiotic idea every thought of according to another educator.

If you ask these two people how to identify a high quality teacher from a low quality teacher you will probably get two very different answers. However, I would be willing to wager money that both will agree that the performance of one class is a very bad measure of the quality of the teacher in charge. They would probably agree that the performance of several classes over a range of years on standardized tests would still not be a good measure of a quality teacher.

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