Think about this post from Theresa G. on Grand Rounds. Theresa is a staff development specialist working with area schools. She has created this blog as “A space for educators and professional developers to share research in education, discuss what they are reading and doing in school districts, and enhance their knowledge.”
In the post Theresa quotes Jenny D., in comparing the teaching profession to the medical field. Jenny D. says something that’s really sticking with me.
“For example, physicians worry about process first. The correct process leads to the best outcome, so process is first.”
This really reminds me that our forced obsession with results and scores and rankings should never over shadow the process or in our case, the teaching strategies/methods/pedagogy. Further think about this point made by Jenny D.,
“Doctors who work with the sickest patients are often the most skilled doctors, and their outcomes are probably not as good as doctors who work with less sick patients. So measuring a doctor’s skill might not be best done using outcomes.”
I’m not sure we do this adequately either. How often is the rookie teacher given the toughest classes because the more experienced teachers have “paid their dues”? Like the best doctors working with the sickest patients, we need the best teachers working with the neediest kids.
Theresa G. also goes on to reflect on her professional development practices with teachers and principals.
“but working in professional development – we try to integrate these “process” pieces into everything we do. In fact, at our regional curriculum meetings, we have begun to use a tuning protocol to guide our discussions of district and regional issues. Our hope is that something like “pay it forward” will happen – folks who work with and learn the protocol will then use it back in the district as part of their process, who will then use it in their buildings, where it might eventually translate into the classroom.”
I say, yes!, that’s exactly what Theresa G. should be doing. I was at the regional curriculum meeting where we used the tuning protocol. I’m looking forward to practicing it again, until I own it. Then I can return to my building, model it in staff meetings and hope the same thing: that it translates into the classroom. We must be instructional leaders in our buildings and it has to be something we continually focus on. It becomes too easy to just end up managing the building, the 100+ little jobs every day that come over the desk. It’s a constant effort to stay focused on the instruction, the curriculum, and the students. It’s also the most important thing we do, the reason we’re here, the process. I’m going to remember that the next time I find myself immersed in data for too long. I’m going to go sit in a classroom instead.