Friday, October 22, 2010

Quality Teaching

Today I had the great fortune of discussing quality teaching with several of my colleagues from the Chula Vista Elementary School District. These Principals came to our school to observe proficient teachers and discuss the indicators of successful teaching. The conversation was a true discussion around the areas of communication, engagement, questioning, assessment, and more. We had a rich debate on the indicators of true engagement, reflecting that most teachers don't get past compliance or mental assent to the topics at hand. The ideal is that students become cognitively engaged in the work, in short, that they THINK. However, some suggested that the more elementary learning of mastering facts and skills is a necessary and prerequisite step that will enable students to eventually have those cognitively demanding and robust conversations. You can't start off with cognitively demanding tasks until you've laid the foundation of background knowledge and skills that support those deeper level conversations and learnings.

My big take away today was that we need to provide opportunities for our whole staff to engage in similar conversations around quality teaching in order to arrive at a common definition of what quality teaching looks like. Their participation in the dialogue would hasten the improvement of teacher practice, which is our ultimate goal.