Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Push Me, Come on You Know You Want To.........

"Find some peers and push each other."
            Seth Godin

Interesting quote. Seth makes a good point (and I am going to use it a little out of context - just letting you know). It is easier to improve when you work with other people. When was the last time a peer walked into your classroom and challenged you on something that you did? I mean truly and constructively challenged you. I am not talking about administrators either. Conversations with local and division administrators are often fairly one sided. They are your bosses. Enough about them. I want to talk about peers - the people we work with. There is nothing better than to have a group of people who can offer critisizm without having some sort of private agenda. Critisizm aimed at making you better - not at improving their position.  Praise for a good lesson is also easy to get.  We hesitate to say anything negative.  Remember though, it is all about student learning - not about pride.  So stop worrying about whether you will look bad and accept the critisizm.

Right now I am team teaching a math class with two other teachers.  I love it.  I get to watch how other people teach.  I also have other professionals who are watching me teach.  We help each other out and ask for advice.  I use them to let me know when I did not quite get the ideas across.  Sometimes it is easier to notice these things when you are not actually the one teaching, when you don't have personal investment in the lesson.

Critisizm aimed at collaboration.  I like the sound of that.  Push me.  I can take it.


pcone said...

Gary I am SOOOOOOOO jealous. You get to TEAM TEACH. How cool is that. It is about as close to teacher heaven as I can imagine!

Gary Ball said...

It is awesome. We were struggling with our math classes (I mean that our students were struggling) so we had to try something different. We don't have our modified students (for that grade anyways) separated. We felt that the more bodies in the room the better the students would do. I think that it is working awesome.

The other nice thing is that when you teach you are always trying to be at the top of your game. You are teaching in front of your peers. The students get to see the real benefits.

I love it too. Unfortunately, next semester one of the teachers will be moved to another classroom and the other one is leaving us to go back to school. Hopefully her replacement will be as good as the people I am losing.

Ryan Nickell said...

Gary, I miss you. This blog post is right up your alley. You are the guy that pushes. I like how you are honest. I think that we were able to achieve a healthy work relationship because of your honesty. You offered straight up criticism (I think that is how you spell it…not critisizm) without sugar coating things. As teachers, we need to do more of this. We need to share and critique honestly, without emotions. Perhaps your socially awkward friends helped you to be that teacher that pushes and challenges. I know that I have grown tremendously as an educator because of working along side you.

Gary Ball said...

Thanks Ryan. It went both ways.

As for the criticism - well you know I mostly teach math. That darn little c just eluded me.

Hey and stop talking about my socially awkward friends otherwise I will send some of them over to cast a level 7 fireball on you.

Tammy said...

I like what you’re saying about peer collaboration and team teaching but hate that you seem to dismiss conversations with administration as being truly helpful. I respect that you are honest enough to share your take on it and now I hope you can help me figure out away to be less of a "one-sided" communicator. As an administrator, I want to be someone who is able to participate and share in engaging conversations about of best practice and share insights & ideas. How do I remove the teachers’ impressions of our conversations has being only evaluative or worse? What would help teacher’s feel less apprehensive about having open and frank discussions with me?

PS: Most of the time, when teachers are sharing their classroom experiences with me, I’m actually a little jealous and living vicariously through them … there are days when I miss the classroom and teaching to the point of physical pangs.