More on teaching as a profession...

Found some more conversation about teaching as a profession and the comparison to the medical field over on Jenny D. Seems some doctoral students were discussing the point and they have an interesting perspective:
But one of the conclusions was that teaching is measured (for whatever reason) by outcomes. Whereas other professions are not measured in only that way.

For example, physicians worry about process first. The correct process leads to the best outcome, so process is first. Physicians share a common language for discussing process and procedure.

Doctors who work with the sickest patients are often the most skilled doctors, and their outcomes are probably not as good as doctors who work with less sick patients. So measuring a doctor's skill might not be best done using outcomes.

It also goes on to mention some process orientated practices - such as Japanese lesson study - and ponders how we might begin to build a process orientated approach.

I don't know how others feel - but working in professional development - we try to integrate these "process" pieces into everything we do. In fact, at our regional curriculum meetings, we have begun to use a tuning protocol to guide our discussions of district and regional issues. Our hope is that something like "pay it forward" will happen - folks who work with and learn the protocol will then use it back in the district as part of their process, who will then use it in their buildings, where it might eventually translate into the classroom. Is that overly optimistic of me?

So we are trying to implement the process piece - but we seem to get stuck! Why is that? What is it about our educational systems keep us spinning in one place?


Kimberly Moritz said...

I can't stop thinking about something in your post.

"For example, physicians worry about process first. The correct process leads to the best outcome, so process is first."

Isn't the process equivalent to teaching methods/pedagogy/strategies? We should be constantly focusing on the process and that process should be different for our neediest students just like for the sickest patients. However, do we have our best teachers working with our neediest students as your post suggests? Not always, that's for sure.

You definitely gave me something to think about Theresa, thank you!

Melissa said...

Process. I have been wondering about that over and over these past few weeks when I first read Theresa's blog. Why aren't things being translated into practice?

In a workshop last week, I was probably the most transparent I have ever been, the most explicit about why I chose the strategy I chose when engaging the participants in the learning process. I wanted them to know why it is important to use the strategies with kids. I wanted them to step out of the new content and debrief the process.

Mistake? - I ALWAYS tell my participants that when teaching kids a new strategy to be sure to use content that kids are comfortable with - don't mix new content and new strategy. Surely, something will be lost. Yet, when teaching new things to teachers, I engage teachers into the learning process and want them to take with them both the new content and the new process. Am I doing/expecting too much?

I keep thinking about what makes me take what I learn and use it so quickly in my learning environment whether it is with the classroom of kids or classroom of teachers.
What connects me to the process? Am I more attuned because of what I do? Yet, why do so many teachers take something simple and run with it? What's the connection?

Kimberly mentioned in her blog that she plans to use the protocol in her school system when it becomes her own after practice. I agree with Kimberly. I practice strategies. Theresa practices strategies. So how much practice and repetition does it take? The reason I ask is that we often only get the participants for a day (or two if we are lucky). Where are we discussing the art and science of teaching? Where is the forum that we talk about what works and doesn't work? Recently, a staff developer told me that she tried a strategy, and it bombed. She is not sure she will try it again.

This year Theresa and her team of staff developers have created forums to talk about what works and what doesn't in the classroom. 37 people came to the first session to talk about their practice! How exciting is that?

So let's translate that into the district! Where are forums provided? Grade level meetings? Faculty meetings? Where do our instructional leaders come into play to be the model of what we know is best for learners? I am excited to think that Kimberly has already begun to make this her own and make some connections to her practice.

Help me think this through. Where is the missing link?