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Dear Robin, Why aren’t

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Dear Robin,
Why aren’t teachers insulted by the implication that “teaching” is somehow bad and that it is limited to the action of standing at the front of a room full of students and talking non-stop through a class period? Why aren’t teachers insulted at being told that they willingly do not do their best for their students? Is there any solid, peer reviewed, research that shows that students do or do not learn through any specific instructional technique? What are the citations? These should be legitimate questions in the pursuit of best practices in education.

Apparently I have not articulated my point of view clearly. I teach a student lead physics (and occasionally chemistry) class based in the 5 Es and constructivist principles. My students are creative and often obtain a better grasp of (science) theory than their contemporaries. I refuse to teach every class period and every topic identically, even class to class. Never, in my years of teaching have the dynamics of any 2 class periods been the same. I write individual lesson plans for some students and for each class as a whole. I give presentations about the benefits of and means of implementing the student lead classroom at local conferences. And, the high school where I teach is divided into learning communities which I actively support.

The teachers that I know work far beyond a 40 hour work week, spend their own money on things that the school (or parents) cannot or will not provide, reflect endlessly on their lesson plans and unit plans, attend multiple out of class functions to support their students, and give unceasingly of their time. They are surrogate parents to students who need guidance, friends to students who need assistance, and pathfinders for students who learn differently. They take professional development classes every year to find new and better ways to teach and keep up with one or more professional societies to be on the forefront of education. Does that really sound like a profession that is unwilling to use the latest, researched information to the best of its ability?

This being said, using the word “teach” as something that is negative and derogatory irritates me no end. Teaching is not limited to “direct instruction.” To say so is sophomoric in the extreme and demonstrates an unfortunate grasp of the English language. Further, ALL TEACHERS that I know use a variety of techniques for instruction. Yearly we have it beat into our heads that we are “sages on the stage” and lecturing with PowerPoint or giving book assignments because we do not care or are too lazy to teach. This is ludicrous. In the 13+ years that I have taught, I have met only 1 teacher who felt that teaching was assigning reading out of a textbook then giving a quiz. That is 1 teacher in a group of many – hundreds, in fact.

We are told unpleasant “facts” about how unsatisfactory teachers are without citation or reference. Almost every year some “professional” who is teaching in-service classes to teachers tells the story of the school – sometimes in California, but I have heard of it being in any number of states – where teachers are told that the above average students are below average and the below average students are above average. These teachers apparently could not recognize or did not care enough about their classes to know the students because the mislabeled above average students do poorly and the mislabeled below average students do well, “living up to the teacher’s expectations”. Interestingly, NO ONE has been able to site a reference to this story. However, the old chestnut is trotted out year after year and presented as a truth about teachers, without any apparent basis in fact. In that same vein, I would like someone to site evidence that most teachers choose to be “sages on the stage” and are not concerned with doing EVERYTHING that they can do ethically to help students learn and become creative, critically and analytically thinking human beings. I welcome solid, peer reviewed, research that shows any single type of instruction is not effective or that any type of instruction is effective. Do we really want to base our profession on anecdotes and not solid research? Even worse, do we want to base our profession on someone creating a problem (not based in research) and selling us their method that we should use to fix it?

I am proud to be a teacher. I am proud to teach. Why would any teacher not feel this way?

Now, I will once again try to get off my soap box…… it is so difficult to step down!

Knowing how to think empowers you far beyond those who only know what to think. -- Neil deGrasse Tyson

Middle School Integrated Curriculum-Aspiring Leader-Lifelong Learner

"How can we quit being so

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"How can we quit being so defensive about old and outdated practice and consider all the amazing things we know about how the brain remembers, and align that with how we should help students learn?
Dear Ben and Linda- Allow students to become creative, provide students with the parameters of the highest expectations within their own culture and school, and school community. I am looking for a district that does not have a political agenda so that of all students needs can be met.
Brains are amazing,
“The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size.”
― Albert Einstein

Middle School Integrated Curriculum-Aspiring Leader-Lifelong Learner

You were beyond your years or

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You were beyond your years or an educator in training! Love it Dixie Diarist. Hopefully you are the student who will honestly share when your teacher asks you to evaluate the lesson! Smiles

Teacher, Writer, and Artist

There's truth in chalk. When

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There's truth in chalk. When I was a student in high school and in college, instead of paying attention to what they were teaching, I paid more attention to how the teachers taught and managed their schedule and their students and how they decorated their class rooms. How they dressed and the awful cars and trucks they drove were a source of great hilarity, too. Most of them were of the old school way: teacher … piece of white or yellow chalk … green chalkboard … and a textbook. I don’t believe that classroom technology has made us smarter. Old school teachers¬—supremely engaging and caring and knowledgeable teachers with chalk-coated fingers—make us smarter. Sometimes you don’t even need the textbook or a chalkboard.

www.actionjacksonart.com

Please give the citations of

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Please give the citations of the studies that demonstrate that most teachers are recalcitrant in using new, research based, instructional techniques. My concern is not that we use outdated techniques (I know very few teachers who do), but that we tarnish with broad strokes the work that is actually done in a classroom based solely on anecdotal evidence.

Administrator, author and educator

Dixie Diarist: I enjoyed your

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Dixie Diarist:

I enjoyed your story that you posted earlier. Interestingly different perspective... refreshing.

Your comment here is very perceptive. Thanks!

Ben Johnson
San Antonio, Texas
[quote]Can you imagine if this post was titled, "Great Teachers Teach." There would have been no comments. We would have just sat there and mushed our lips, nodded our heads, while we agreed.www.actionjacksonart.com[/quote]

Teacher, Writer, and Artist

Can you imagine if this post

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Can you imagine if this post was titled, "Great Teachers Teach." There would have been no comments. We would have just sat there and mushed our lips, nodded our heads, while we agreed.

www.actionjacksonart.com

Administrator, author and educator

Jennifer: Awesome job on the

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Jennifer:

Awesome job on the article, and they are headed in the right direction. I especially enjoyed the prezi presentation.

Ben Johnson
San Antonio, Texas

Administrator, author and educator

Why do we try to make the

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Why do we try to make the words "teach" and "teacher" derogatory?

Linda:

No intent, real or implied, was made to denigrate the word "teacher" or the marvelous work that "teachers" do.

The whole point of my post is that it is not about the teacher or what or how they teach. It is about the learner and what and how they learn.

Words have power and if we change the title of "teacher" to something that focuses on what results we want, then that might help shift the overwhelmingly popular practices of teacher and textbook directed instruction; while the students passively listen--to helping the students take an active role; protagonist, inquiry, discovery, exploration--learning, in their education.

In essence, what I am asking is how can we quit being so defensive about old and outdated practices (any one still doing Radial Keratotomy?) and consider all the amazing things we know about how the brain remembers, and align that with how we should help students learn (ever heard of Lasik?)?

I would much rather talk about how teachers can be better teachers using some of the following: Professional Learning Communities, Project-based learning, Inquiry, Collaborative Learning, Japanese Lesson Study, Quality Circles, Working on the Work, Critical Conversations, Data Decision-making, Mastery Learning, Baldridge, ISO 6000, TAP, Ford PAS, Accelerated Learning, Breaking Ranks Framework, Working Systemically....

Ben Johnson
San Antonio, Texas

Parent of three lower school boys in Denver and author of a parenting blog

I recently interviewed two

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I recently interviewed two educators in Colorado Springs who are really promoting the concept of Personalized Learning and how it gets teachers to rethink their roles as a "sage on stage." I posted part of that interview on Fresh Ink, a Colorado Springs Gazette blog. They are finding so much success that other states are sending their education leaders to Colorado to learn from them. http://www.csfreshink.com/profiles/blogs/personalized-learning-dudes-kee...

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