I recently had an experience as a learner that made me carefully consider how thoughtful, targeted and intentional my own teaching is. I was attending four days of training where the content was outstanding and the presenters were charming and above average. So….what was the problem? Well….I love good professional development, but I wasn't learning very much. I realize upon reflection that the presenter was "the" teacher, but she wasn't "my" teacher. She had a set agenda and carefully prepared and researched curriculum which she ticked through in a precise and efficient manner. She did not evaluate or assess where I or other participants were in terms of the content. So at the end of day two I thought to myself, "It doesn't really matter how outstanding the content or presentation is; if it does not meet the needs of the learner, there can't be growth."
Then I began to wonder if I am ever guilty of the same thing. Do I ever follow the curriculum I've been given, plowing from lesson one through lesson whatever without regard for whether or not my students are ready for it or already know it? Do I want to be "the" teacher…..or "their" teacher? If I want to be their teacher, I have to know what they need. I have to let assessments drive the instruction for every boy and girl in the room and I am determined to do just that. I want to be assured that how I felt for four days as a learner is not how a child in my room will feel for 180. I want to be confident that should a guest visit our room, a child will point to me and instead of hearing, "That's the teacher" I'll hear, "That's my teacher."
cross posted at http://www.thedailycafe.com