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Friday, October 8, 2010

What is Good Teaching?

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution.
- William Foster
I participated in a workshop recently where everyone in the room watched the same videotaped classroom lesson. We were then asked to rate the lesson on a standard A-F scale. The room consisted of administrators and curriculum supervisors. This is the group of people that evaluates and coaches teachers in their respective districts. The grades ranged from an A to an F with everything in between. How could this happen in a room full of highly qualified educators?
First, I would almost guarantee the same grade distribution would happen in your district. It comes down to the simple fact that everyone has a different view of what quality instruction looks like. It is very difficult to move an organization forward without a sense common vision of quality.
I have been reflecting on the walkthroughs, learning walks, and instructional rounds going on in schools every day.  I spend a great deal of my time out in schools coaching principals through learning walks and reflective conversations.  How effective are these practices without a clear framework of what quality looks like?
Try a similar activity with your staff. Simply view a videotaped lesson and have each teacher grade the lesson. The data is astonishing and the conversation that results from this activity will move your school forward on the journey of defining excellence.
How can we begin to come to a common understanding of what quality teaching is? It begins with a conversation.
How would you define good teaching?  What would you look for?