Tuesday, March 16, 2010

10,000 hours

They say you need 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. I guess the idea is we need enough time to make our mistakes and learn from them.

Today I’m thinking about conversations with teachers at school. Most teachers these days are worried about their future, especially new teachers. So why is the district wasting money on raises for everyone else? Why are they leasing luxury cars for high-level administrators? Why are they buying new computers?

Wait a second hold the phone. Why are they buying new computers?

Jewish Children with their Teacher in Samarkan...Image via Wikipedia

Getting past all that what is the justification for me to have a computer. Can I not do my job without a computer? I can keep record on a notepad, I can teach without the computer. I’d love to use a projector and Smartboard and stuff, but I don’t have those. I don’t teach the entire class anyway.

No what I need a computer for is to deliver some of the interactive intervention programs we are buying.

What you can’t teach you just put the kids in front of your computer?

No, but there are times when I will bring one or more students to my computer and we can work as a small group using some excellent programs like Geogebra.

Ok why not go to the computer lab?

Well other than the fact that technically I am not supposed to remove the students from the core classroom, but rather augment the learning that goes on. I also use the computer for other purposes.

Why we connect, was a post that was hot this week (can't find it now). So why do we connect? We connect to get those 10,000 hours in of course. We don’t think about it that way naturally, but we are doing it.

For some teaching is a job. They spend a few late nights writing lesson plans and jump into the classroom to teach. At the end of the day they complain about the amount of paperwork they have to do, but that really has nothing to do with teaching. Rather it has to do with administration. So these teachers spend on average 10 hours a day working their craft for the first year or two then they find their groove and they can cut back the hours to maybe six and a half hours of actual teaching a day for the next 28 years. Maybe less if they start just going through the motions. Really, if a teacher is just reteaching old lessons without thinking about how to make it better is he actually improving?

The other teacher learns to leverage technology to continue learning about teaching. We use computers and internet access to follow other teachers. We spend our evening talking or listening to teachers from around the globe talk about what they taught and how they taught it. They go to conferences on line. They reflect on their lessons and sometimes even put the lesson out there for the world to see.

The other teach might get to 10,00 hours in just a few years. What can you do if you are a master after only 3 or 4 years? How much better can you be?

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