Excellence is an Attitude

October 20, 2012 at 10:29 am Leave a comment

When I first moved into my current office, I didn’t really think about the decor, as I don’t spend too much time in my office.  The one thing I did find that I knew for certain I wanted displayed in there was a sign I found that simply stated, “Excellence is not a skill, it is an attitude.”  Coaching people to be “excellent” is part of my job.

One of the greatest rewards of being an instructional coach is getting numerous opportunities to observe and interact with teachers and students in their own classrooms.  Recently, I’ve been to several of our elementary schools to do quick, informative assessments of where teachers are with implementing Math Workshop. We have been doing professional development and making the shift to more of a conceptual, problem solving approach in our mathematics instruction, so it’s a journey. Just like students, our teachers are at different levels on the journey, however one major piece that’s been lacking for many teachers on this journey has been feedback. Meaningful feedback, constructive feedback is SO important in order for teachers to improve and change. Just like students need to be met wherever they are in their understanding, and given feedback that will move them forward, teachers need this too.

Here are a few essentials for providing meaningful feedback to teachers:

1. Find out what they DO know, and what they CAN do.

2.  Be honest, yet humble.  

3. Ask a question to spark thinking.

4. Focus on the positives and build from there.

5. Provide a model of what you are expecting.

These essentials are really the same for giving feedback to students.

In his book, An Ethic of Excellence, Ron Berger describes how providing exemplars, examples of excellent work for students, we help them to see their own progress.  This concept is just as applicable to teachers. (or anyone, really)

While this is a cultural shift in thinking differently than just a right or a wrong answer, this way of providing feedback will move teachers toward greatness. And who doesn’t want a GREAT teacher?



Entry filed under: Professional Reads, Reflections. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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Kristen Hahn

October 2012
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