One Thing All Successful Teachers Agree On

Recently, I was at the Teacher of the Year Annual Meeting where Teaching Channel had the opportunity to talk with former National Teachers of the Year and this year’s crop of finalists. There were many valuable takeaways from these conversations, but the one thing that all of them consistently brought up was this: We cannot improve and grow in our practice in isolation; in order to continuously evolve, we must open our classroom doors and accept constructive feedback from coaches and peers.

Practicing What I Preach

With this in mind, two of the educators I most respect, Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey, sat down together and watched one of my classroom videos, When a Lesson Goes Wrong. Using Teaching Channel’s Notes feature, they were able to offer thoughtful and specific feedback while helping me learn from this experience. If you’ve never used Notes, it’s a great way to collaborate with anyone, anywhere.

Doug and Nancy are accomplished educators, researchers, authors and presenters who have seen countless classrooms that span every discipline and grade from pre-K to graduate levels. While a great deal of their work is grounded in literacy, their pedagogy is centered on the gradual release of responsibility (see Better Learning Through Structured Teaching). Teachers who want to support autonomous learners have a clear learning purpose and turn over the cognitive load of learning to students.

You might wonder why I’ve brought up so much of Doug and Nancy’s backgrounds. It’s because knowing the framework that your coach is using to view you through will help you respond to their feedback and adjust your lesson changes accordingly. Take a look at the notes they left me and share in the comments what you think:

Sarah's videos - calling out notes

Practice Using Notes

Are you a coach or using a coach? Are you helping peers to improve their practice? What aspect of your practice are you currently working on? Classroom management? Behavior?

  • Use the Topic filters on the left side of videos page to narrow the focus of available videos.
  • Select a video that that matches your interest, and click on the Notes tab to the right of the player. You can type your thoughts on what you’re viewing in real time, and with the time stamps you’ll be creating, you can easily return to the part of the video where you added your Notes with just one click.
  • You can also share your Notes by clicking on the arrow below the Notes entry field, or you can keep them private.
  • All of your Notes are accessible either from the video page where you took them, or from your Workspace.

Sarah Brown Wessling is a high school English teacher in Johnston, Iowa. She is the 2010 National Teacher of the Year and is the Teacher Laureate for Teaching Channel. Connect with Sarah on Twitter – @SarahWessling.

Click the image to find more blogs on staying engaged with your professional development.

Click the image to find more blogs on staying engaged with your professional development.



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