Friday, November 30, 2012

Cruising the blogs

When it csomes to ed bloggers, some of my favorites can be found on NEPC's aptly-named Best of the Ed Blogs, including the likes of Ravitch, Ferlazzo, Thomas, Cuban, etal... In this post, Stanford prof, Larry Cuban wrestles with the progressive/traditional teaching duality when one of his students innocently describes him as a "traditional" teacher. He is and isn't.
After reading Anthony Cody's favorable review of Lois Weiner's new book, "The Future of Our SchoolsTeachers Unions and Social Justice", I ordered a copy from Haymarket Books for possible use in my winter quarter course.

“Education is growth" ― John Dewey 

Another EdWeek (Teacher) blogger, Elena Aguilar offers advice to fellow teacher-coaches in her "Art of Coaching Teachers" blog. I'm a little put off (biased?) by the title and the patronizing tone it projects. It's not that I'm anti-coach. I am a high school basketball coach (among other things) and also direct the Small Schools Workshop where lots of "coaching" of willing teachers and principals has taken place over the years. I appreciate the teacher-as-coach metaphor and what it connotes in the way of democratic teaching/learning. And as a coach, and a teacher, I appreciate being coached by others in my field who are willing to share their experience and knowledge with me.

So why do I feel that old chill run up my spine when I read Aguilar's response to a San Diego math coach complaining that she is seeing "no growth" in the teachers he/she is working with. This all too common response on the part of professional-developers says more about them than it does about the teachers they are trying (unsuccessfully) to coach.

 The coach has no business making such an evaluation. No growth is really a death pronouncement. Isn't it? What kind of teacher would ever deem one of their students to be "no growth."  It sounds like this coach means, I can't get these teachers to do what I want them to do. Big difference from no-growth. This coach needs to go.

But even Aguilar's response to her fellow coaching artist, smacks of the same patronizing tone towards teaching professionals. Maybe it's the way she refers to them as "your teachers" as in,
"Dear Stumped, I know how hard it can be to feel like your teachers aren't making growth ..." 
Yes, that's it.

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