Monday, June 17, 2013

Making Mistakes and Teacher Growth

Ha..thought I'd open this post with a bit of humor since making mistakes isn't something we usually laugh about.
In my class we say, "There is no shame in a mistake." Actually I don't think there is any better way to learn.  I want my students to be risk takers and to not fear being wrong. I was recently reading a book that suggested we should deliberately place complex tasks in front of students to add a component of struggle. It is through the struggle that perseverance is fostered and deep learning is developed. Isn't that what we want for our students?
I think we need to be fair in our approach so students are not bombarded daily with tasks at their frustration level but challenge is good and worthwhile.  

So let's shift the thinking on that from students to teachers.  I'm doing an in depth reading of Marzano's The Reflective Teacher with a group of dynamic teachers. These veteran teachers have all been teaching awhile yet all want to get better at what they do and are not fearful about making mistakes along the way. I love that.
In chapter one we discussed Marzano's thoughts on the concept of deliberate practice. In deliberate practice teachers continuously strive to achieve mastery of increasingly higher levels of performance. In order to achieve this  individuals must focus on the "not-yet-attained" and challenging tasks that define a superior level of performance. Marzano states that "In attempting these tasks teachers who engage in deliberate practice often fail."  He quotes Rathunde and Whalen  on this idea, "Unless a person wants to pursue the difficult path that leads to the development of talent, neither innate potential nor all the knowledge in the world will suffice."
 Marzano writes about the ALACT model of reflective practice.  It stands for action, looking back, awareness, create alternative methods, trial. Teachers use this sequence as they attempt to build their skill in a particular area of their teaching. The cycle continues until they meet with a high level of success.
So are you ready for the challenge and prepared for the possibility of failure? My group talked about how our new teacher evaluation system could possibly prevent teachers from wanting to disclose the negatives in their teaching experiences yet Marzano suggests "making  practices transparent and  knowledge public in the presence of others" is necessary for teacher growth.
So let's put aside teacher ratings and not be hesitant to share and support each other as we grow in our profession.
Is there an area you are going to deliberately practice? I know there are many for me and will be back later to post on those. 
Would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!