I listened. I did. I promise. And what I heard did not feel good. What I heard helped me find my way, a very small calling. What I heard shifted ever so slightly the way I engage with my world.
I filmed myself teaching last week. I filmed myself and then I put it up in front of my colleagues – colleagues I see and work with every day – and asked them to look for when kids looked engaged using the sentence stems “I see…” and “I hear…” to objectively point it out.
Granted, the video was not perfect. I was trying out some new technology and mostly got the tops of kids’ heads, and I just filmed my teaching, no dog and pony, just filming.
The discussion began as planned. Then one person pointed out DISengagement and the people who followed from that point on couldn’t helped but follow. One of the kids looked like he had a fight spinner, he didn’t know/ understand what you were doing…
A simple protocol, point out examples of engagement. Simple… and yet we could not do it. And I don’t say this as I condemnation – I would like to be extremely clear about this. I place no blame, I place no judgement- rather I offer this observation/ experience as a symptom of a much larger problem in academia.
We teachers are so trained to analyze behaviors, academic works, the learning of our students (or lack thereof), that we have a difficult time noticing when our students do it well. In fact, this experience has shown me that we have a hard time doing it for EACH OTHER as professionals.
If we can’t watch one another teach to point out where it’s going well, how are we going to build the trust to work together when it’s not?
Let’s face it – I can take any lesson I’ve taught and tear it apart. I can point out in any liven lesson who’s not getting it. What I can’t do by myself is to notice, analyze, and leverage what I do well.
After all, it is my faults I notice the most. It is what I don’t do well that I craft and hone to become better. What if we helped one another, as colleagues, become stronger by first noticing our strengths, the ways kids are engaging in our teaching so that we could grow those practices?