How Can We Elevate Teachers?
Nicole Comforto
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I’m reminded of an article from the summer edition of American Educator (published by the AFT — yes a union — the dichotomy being drawn, even on Medium, between reform and unions is unfortunate), Bryan Mascio discusses “True Teaching Expertise: The Weaving Together of Theory and Practice.” He likens teachers to doctors, especially the way in which doctors and teachers alike must incorporate research from multiple fields into their practice.

“When a student gets something wrong, our first job is not to give him the correct answer; it is to understand why he thought his answer was correct. This is not to say that the student doesn’t need to eventually get the right answer; it means that teaching him is far more complex than just relaying information . . . an incorrect answer represents current understanding, and that’s the starting point”

In my practice, I emphasize the “breach,” the place where thinking becomes visible. Breaching is powerful because it gets the student and those around them — whether peers or teachers — on the same page. It allows for everyone to have that ah-ha moment, about the text, about the thinking, and about the learning.

Unfortunately, too many students have had too many teachers who thought their first job was to give the correct answer. We know that learning doesn’t happen that way. So why would we teach that way?

Reforming the training and preparation of teachers must go hand-in-hand with informing the preparation with current theory drawn from multiple fields. Thank you for drawing attention to this vexing issue!