One thing about teaching that irks me more than anything else is the lofty lingo. Often times it's more about what you say you do than it is about what you do. I noticed this when I stepped into my classroom for the first time this summer. My mind was overwhelmed with the task at hand. Coming into my room are several students who are significantly behind grade level. I immediately started diagnosing the parts of my instruction that needed some serious reworking. I then began the process of prioritizing the list. But when I talk about my shortcomings with my colleagues I rarely find meaningful encouragement. Instead I get advice. Not that I don't want advice, it's that I'm seeking meaningful advice. The advice I hear includes all of the modern buzz words that must be said - guiding reading, thinking strategies, data driven, studies show, student engagement - as though those words hold some power when spoken. Then the teacher gives me an example of what they do and the conversation ends.
But really the conversation never began. If all of these teachers were being more successful than me, then my kids would come to me on grade level. Their test scores would be much better than mine. My classroom would look more like the black sheep instead of just another zebra. Those things don't happen though. If it makes us all feel better, let's use the buzz words. But I think people prefer those words because it automatically shows that they know what they're talking about. Whether they do or not.
I want the conversation to allow for me to talk about the things that aren't going well without people assuming everything in my room isn't going well. I want the conversation to result in change, be it small steps or large, instead of confusing language. I want the conversation to take place between teachers who want the best for everyone instead of between teachers who just want to be the best one.
Last year toward the end of the year my grade level team began to reach a point where we had real conversations. They were very meaningful and resulted in change. I hope that carries into the 2009-2010 school year. If it does then change will be seen. Let the conversations begin...