As an educator for over 36 years, I have participated in thousands of hours of professional development and learned hundreds of strategies. Like Goldilocks, I have sat in chairs too big or too small and in rooms too hot or too cold while digesting the latest ideas or twists to recycled ones. I have attended professional development workshops when there were other more important priorities to accomplish and when there were other more relevant skills to acquire. At times, the ideas felt nearly impossible to implement given the limited exposure and support offered for their implementation.
How do we, as teachers, remain motivated to spend energy on developing and advancing our knowledge and skills? As demands on our time increase and leave us with less time to reflect on our pedagogy, what can we do?
“Go meta," is one answer. On page 73 of Charlotte Danielson’s book Talk About Teaching, she writes that we should be “encouraging metacognition.”
Metacognition refers to a person’s thinking, not about the events under consideration but about one’s own thinking about those events.
When we think, we use our schema. My schema is the Framework for Teaching Clusters.
The Framework for Teaching Clusters (FFT Clusters) represent the six big ideas about teaching and learning. By strengthening my understanding of the FFT Clusters and applying their features with integrity, I examine new and continuing ideas about teaching with confidence and efficiency. The Framework for Teaching has reinforced my efficacy to make a difference and avoid complacency. It is a roadmap for navigating the ever-changing transformations in our field.
Using the Clusters, I can ensure
- Clarity of Instructional Purpose and Accuracy of Content,
- A Safe, Respectful, Supportive, and Challenging Learning Environment, and
- Classroom Management are in place, then the conditions exist for
- Student Intellectual Engagement with important content to occur, which is necessary to reach the ultimate goal of
- Successful Learning by All Students. Finally, teaching rests on a foundation of
- Professionalism and must be supported by teacher- centered professional learning systems and teacher- powered school improvement efforts that honor and reflect the needs of the whole teacher.
Although I retired in June 2019, I am still constantly considering ways to go meta. I hope to continue to learn from teachers and talk about teaching with you in Lien On Me.
All the best,
The Danielson Group is a non-profit organization that has been dedicated to the pursuit of great teaching for nearly 20 years. Leveraging the widely adopted and research-validated Framework for Teaching, they work to ensure that students and educators everywhere experience safe and inclusive learning environments that promote joyful inquiry, efficacy, intellectual rigor, and reflection.
Teresa Lien is a recently retired (June 2019) Wisconsin public school teacher. She served as a special education teacher and instructional coach for 36 years, and continues her commitment to being “a teacher’s teacher” through her work with the Danielson Group and The Framework for Teaching. Teresa created the “Lien On Me” series, to prompt discussion among educators and share reflective practices in support of teachers seeking to improve their effectiveness and longevity in the profession.
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