Today, my zumba teacher, Sandy, was absent. So, another gal stepped in. She was good, but nothing like Sandy. Sandy has this innate ability to lead in a nonverbal manner. When she teaches, no one falls over their feet! Her class is truly a high intensity work out... not because of what we do, but how we do it. She constantly changes the routines, however, because she knows how to use nonverbal gestures (such as eye contact and movement), with purpose, she is quite effective.
Effective Teachers... now the hot topic in education. I'm not sure why this is a hot topic, now, because I believe we should have ALWAYS been concerned as to how to measure whether or not our teachers were effective! (But, that is a topic for another blog!) If one were to define the characteristics that describe an effective teacher, they might defer to Danielson's Framework.
Charlotte's four domains, each of which contain components and then, further break down the components into elements, clearly defines the characteristics of an effective teacher. The four descriptors: Unsatisfactory, Basic, Proficient, and Distinguished, categorize those characteristics into levels of effectiveness. Charlotte advises that one needs to strive toward the descriptors in the Proficient column and as teachers, we only "visit" or "vacation" in the Distinguished column, since it is ultimately impossible to "live" in the Distinguished column.
In my experience, I find it safe to say that there are lots of "good" teachers out there... those who fit the descriptors in the proficient column in Danielson's Framework. They do a nice job; they connect with their students, the students learn, and successfully move on.
I am, however, challenged by Charlotte's statement regarding her Distinguished column.
I, personally, have seen and worked with teachers who are the superstars, the cream of the crop, those who "sparkle" (as one of my former supervisors used to say). They rise above the sea of teachers within a school system and make cognitive memories for students. Deep learning, in addition to content knowledge occurs, and that's what they are known for. I'm talking about the "Sandys", or "positive deviants" of the teaching profession. What separates them from everyone else?
I believe (and research states) that those teachers possess characteristics that make them exceptional and that the difference between them and the "proficient" teachers is that those characteristics are innate. I asked Sandy where she learned to lead a class in the manner that she does, and she looked at me like I was crazy. She didn't even KNOW that other teachers do not lead like she does. I have had this experience with teachers (who were positive deviants) in the field when I was a principal. They don't even realize what they are doing that makes them effective.
So, here are some questions to ponder:
What would happen if we harnessed the talent of that highly effective teacher and empowered him/her to support his or her peers in order to advance learning?
Would he/she be well received? or would his/her colleagues be resentful?
Are we our own worst enemy? Hmmm... What are YOUR thoughts on this matter?
Dr. Frances A. Miller,