Monday, February 18, 2013

You can lead a horse to water...

So on Monday morning (Family Day holiday here in Ontario), I ran across the following tweet:
@principalspage: Can you teach someone how to teach?
And I replied with the cliche
@sig225 You can lead a horse to water...

Much like any skill, you can teach (or, more specifically, go through the motions since teaching should imply learning) anyone anything.  I've sat in an audience being 'taught' many times but unless I not only hear and engage with the material and then bring it to some meaning in my own life (and that can be academic, personal or social) that I haven't really been taught it.  The teacher can try all they want, some of the responsibility lies with the student.

When it comes to teacher education, and in this I include both pre-and in-service, we've all sat in PD and even when energized by the information we don't adapt our teaching style even if we know student learning would be improved.
In part it goes back to a quote from Dylan Wiliam that I keep foremost in my head when I'm planning professional development: "Improving practice involves changing habits, not adding knowledge".  We don't need to teach our teachers more, we need them to forget the things that we know are wrong (relying on lectures, not promoting discourse, using learning styles, etc) and actually have them teach like they've been taught (balance collaboration & teacher direction, reinforcing skills & using projects, etc).
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