Certainly the title of this article exudes hyperbole, but teaching teachers is a job I would not take on. Some hubris is required to be a good teacher and some are quick to judge teaching methods or styles they themselves would not utilize or adopt.
During a visit to one of my old college buddies, I was lucky enough to tag along to a professional development meeting for teachers that he was required to attend. He wanted me to meet some of his colleagues and then go to lunch after the professional development class was done with.
Prior to the entrance of the speaker, I could easily detect the disdain and lack of enthusiasm many of the teachers had for being at a function that might expose them as bad teachers. My Mom, who was a professor at an Ivy League School, was fond of the phrase teachers make the worse students.
A school admin then introduced Carol Ann Gittens, a psychologist from a school in Santa Clara, CA, who was the poor soul saddled with the task of teaching obstreperous educators. This woman miraculously reversed the mood of the room and managed to engage even the most sullen members of the audience.
She produced an excellent example of the difficult to define term, critical thinking, where she shared a pacemaker story. I believe a decision had to be made on whether to upgrade a pacemaker on a girl who had a congenital heart problem. Many teachers got involved and some rousing exchanges occurred with one of the teachers claiming to have first hand experience with some sort of insurance issue. The kicker was that it was the speaker’s daughter who had the marginally defective pacemaker and an informed quick decision was the most important thing in her life at the time!
I was appalled at the number of teachers on their smartphones or engaging in distracting cross talk or other things that they would scold students for in their own classrooms. I would wager some of the most egregious offenders are the same teachers that would be the most pissed off if their kids were acting that way!
Gittens had some great material that I will use in my profession including the idea of shut down cliches which are things students and teachers can say that will stymie a healthy learning environment. For example, a student when defending his point of view might reply that is just what I believe or it is just common sense. Carol declared that these type of “arguments” have no place in critical thinking exchanges.
I don’t know who her boss is, but she deserves a raise for walking into semi-hostile environments of teachers who have been ordered to be there and often possess haughty attitudes towards any suggestions that they might be able to do their jobs better!
Finally, I was impressed with her polite, but firm, stance on the perils of standardized testing, especially PARCC.