Sunday, January 08, 2006

Asking Hard Questions of Colleagues

Yet another quote from Deborah Meier's book:

Expecting teachers to take responsibility for the success of the whole school requires that they begin to accept responsibility for both their own and their colleagues' teaching.

This made me think of something Ron used to say a lot - "Care enough to confront." He was referring to students, but I think the same thing applies to our colleagues. I think we need to respect our colleagues enough to ask hard questions of them. That's part of what I'm trying to do with this staff development - ask hard questions of each of you (and myself) to make sure we are doing all that we can to make our school a success. I don't think it's okay anymore (if it ever was) to just say "I'm going to close my door and do whatever I want." It's not enough to be successful as individual teachers, we need to be successful as a staff if we want our school to be successful - and if we want our students to be successful and achieve to their potential.

Of course there's a fine line between pushing our colleagues to do their best teaching and conveying the impression that "my way is right, your way is wrong." But I think that's a line we need to walk. I think if we fail to approach the education of our students as an entire staff - with a coherent approach and clear goals for what we want to achieve - we will be mediocre at best. And I guess I'm at the point in my career where I refuse to be mediocre - or part of something that is.
If we intend to dramatically improve the education of American kids, teachers must be challenged to invent schools they would like to teach and learn in, organized around the principles of learning that we know matter.


  1. I agree in some respects Karl-I do think we need to be on the same page as teachers and as a staff. If we had everyone following some of the same principles, imagine what could be done. But part of me thinks that is such a lofty aspiration because people are so set with their ways when it comes to philosophy of teaching. But, if we are to become a true community of educators and learners, we may not see eye to eye on some things, but we could come together and try new things and toy with new ideas that may make us better. How do we know if we don't try?

  2. I think that if we start small--start in our small content teams to discuss best practices, pacing of the curriculum, and the key questions of: how will we know when our students have learned these essential learnings?

    Again, at the DuFour conference, Rick challenged teachers to really re-think assessments. Create your own he says and then find out how to make yourself and others in your department better. I was so excited about this (and nervous), but I feel it's so necessary for us to get better.