Our Lesson is Our Product

By Christopher McCurry

Guest writer, Christopher McCurry, an English teacher in Lexington, Kentucky, shares his thoughts on the real products of a teacher’s work.

Christopher McCurry

Administrators, parents, and even students would like teachers to believe that students are the product of teachers, and that educators are responsible for student success and failure. Emphasis is placed on how much we do for our students; when instead, teachers should view our lessons as our product.

This is a radical idea.

From the research we use to support our planning, the documents we create, presentation tools we use, to the method of delivery, our craft and our talent is rooted in our lesson design and delivery.

A professional teacher understands that executing the best lessons possible leads to better student outcomes. We know that designing and delivering a class, a unit, or a lesson requires a variety of complex skills that we, in collaboration with other educators, create.

At once, we are researchers, authors, and performers. When we teach our class, the lesson is ours and ours alone, even if we do not make every single document or tool related to the lesson.

By claiming that we teachers produce our lessons, we subvert the idea that we can be solely evaluated on student performance, we also refute the idea that it is too hard to evaluate teachers in an effective and meaningful way. In essence, we gain control and power over our careers, and at the same time, advocate for students by focusing on the quality of our research, design, and delivery.

When we begin to look at areas of growth, we can focus on this craft: lesson writing, document and presentation creation, presentation styles and demeanor. We can have meaningful conversations about how specific choices we make impact student performance.

At first glance, this may seem selfish. We can imagine the questions:

“What about the students?”

“How does this impact student outcomes?”

“Are you saying students aren’t a teacher’s priority.”

The answer is this: teachers who engage with their craft critically and view their teaching as their product, produce meaningfully engaging and rigorous lessons.

Instead of looking solely at student test scores, we can begin to look at the types of instructional strategies used, the integrity of a document, the usefulness of a presentation, and revise and rework until a lesson is flawless and the unique product of an individual teacher, delivered to an audience of diverse students.

Christopher McCurry teaches English, edits a journal for teachers, and makes Youtube videos.