Sunday, December 12, 2010

Teach Don't Tell

“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; 

involve me and I'll understand.” 

-  Chinese Proverb

There are several philosophies/practices that guide my daily work. Most of them I've picked up from my good friend and mentor.  The philosophy of "Teach Don't Tell" has really been running through my mind quite a bit in my travels.  We tend to do a lot of telling in education.  I see it happen everywhere I go.....

  • District Administrators tell Principals what they should be doing.

  • Principals tell teachers that they should be instructing differently.

  • Teachers tell kids that their answers are incorrect and to do it again.

We are all teachers yet we spend very little time teaching.   We have all spent countless hours in meetings and professional development opportunities where we are told what best practices to use and which manipulatives are best.  

How often are you actually taught how to do things?  I would venture to say rarely because it is easier to stand and deliver.  I am proposing a different way of leading from wherever you currently reside.   Take the time to teach somebody the next time you have the urge to tell them what to do.  There is a simple process to employ that is guaranteed to yield greater results than the typical "I'm going to tell you what to do method."

The Gradual Release of Responsibility Model (Pearson and Gallagher, 1993) is used in many classrooms with students and also in coaching situations.  What if it became the way we did business all the time?  What if it became the way we led?

It begins with the expert demonstrating and it ends with the participant practicing independently.  The shared and guided components are the ones that are typically missing.  This model can be applied to many different situations with all stakeholders.  The process can be differentiated by experience, comfort, skill, etc.  

This is where true change and growth will occur.  What if leaders began employing the best practices that we expect teachers to utilize?