I’ve been thinking a lot lately about experts. More and more, I find myself quoting experts in my sessions. As a teacher, it used to really annoy me when speakers came to us quoting experts. It seemed that the opening line from any speaker we brought in always went something like, “I have been out of the classroom for 15 years, so it’s great to be back in a school. In his book, Change Leader: Learning to Do What Matters Most, Michael Fullan says…”
Three things would come to mind immediately, and I’d begin to lose respect for that presenter.
- You’ve been out of the classroom for 15 years, and you’re going to tell me how to teach today?
- If you think it’s so great to be back in a school, why don’t you get a job in one?
- You’re going to quote somebody else? Don’t you have any of your own ideas?
I started thinking about what kind of experts I cite in my sessions. I broke them into three categories.
- Current classroom teachers.
- Educators without classrooms.
I wonder which type of expert is preferable to the people who come to my sessions. As I see it, there are benefits and drawbacks to each type of expert.
Plus: People like to hear about things that I developed and have tried in my own classroom. I speak about these things passionately, and I can attest to the fact that they work.
Minus: I’m only one guy – and not a particularly creative one. I’m limited in the number of original ideas I have. The longer I stay out of a classroom, the farther removed these things become.
Plus: They are blogging and tweeting about the things they are doing right now. They reflect on what worked, or why they failed. It doesn’t get more current.
Minus: Some people in sessions want to hear from experts. We are in a bit of a strange profession, in that not all of us consider out colleagues experts.
Plus: Most of these people have organizations that support them in their research. Their stuff is polished, thorough, and well marketed.
Minus: It takes a long time to publish a book, so sometimes it’s out of date before it hits the shelves. Some people question researchers who haven’t been in a classroom for a long time.
Imagine yourself in one of my sessions on assessment. Which of the following three statements is most likely to engage you and motivate you to explore changes to your assessment practices?
- When I taught, students were allowed multiple chances to show me they had learned the material.
- Shawn Cornally, who teaches in Iowa, uses a system called Standards Based Grading to ensure that he provides an accurate assessment of student mastery of the material.
- In his book, Formative Assessment and Standards Based Grading, Robert Marzano presents an assessment system that is supported by his research.
- I’m going to model a problem solving approach that I used when I was in the classroom. I used this one with my Math 30 Pure classes, and they loved it.
- Kate Nowak just shared this lesson with us on her blog. She used it last week in an Algebra II class, and it went over very well. This activity fits our Math 20-1 curriculum. I’d like you to try it.
- In her book, More Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Secondary Mathematics, Marian Small explains the idea of open and parallel tasks. I’d like to try this open task.
If you’re sitting in one of my sessions, who do you want to hear from?