My colleague, Barb Gonzales, shared an interesting fact with me. In the book, Making Teacher's Better, Not Bitter, it states that only 5% of all educators are considered experts. With this in mind, how can the remaining 95% become like the Michael Jordan's of the profession? First, we must ensure we lay the foundation. We can begin by asking ourselves: Does everyone have the same foundational skills? Although we have good intentions, the answer is likely, "No." We can begin to ensure a common foundation by discovering common definitions. In the article, "Words: The Power of a Shared Vocabulary" by Jim Knight, he states that "a common vocabulary [can] help us share emotions, share ideas, grow" (Knight). Further, he states that "powerful professional learning happens when teachers agree about the meaning of words." With an established system for common definitions, we must next create a model and resources that encourage innovation, creativity, and forward thinking. What does it look like to be accomplished in the area of differentiation? What resources can I use to help differentiate product, process, or content?
As you continually review, refine, and reflect, it is imperative that you utilize data to inform instructional decisions and necessary changes. If we continue to "sit and get" at professional development sessions and ignore data that leads to our necessary changes, we are living the definition of insanity. "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
To begin the understand the Literacy of Effective Teaching, we have to begin with a basic understanding of the effective components of a lesson. Then we can move to a more advanced understanding of the strategies and resources that advance a teacher from a direct-instruction model to a symphony of learners. What do I mean by this? Imagine walking into a classroom where students are each playing their own "music," in their own way. The music is beautiful and the teacher is invigorated. Students feel successful because their talents can shine. The teacher is the guide on the side because mentoring and coaching becomes their job. They no longer need to lose their voice from 50 minutes of lecturing. Instead, they can sit down one-on-one with students, build deeper relationships, provide authentic feedback, and develop independent students with the skills they need to succeed in our ever changing world.