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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Teaching Is Like Riding a Bicycle

Teaching is like riding a bicycle. Once you learn, you'll never forget. Writing a thorough lesson plan gets you up on that bike, rolling down the sidewalk.

New standards provide a framework for excellence in teaching, but in reality, it's just oh-so-easy to pick up that old textbook and teach it from cover to cover. Teacher evaluation programs give us much more specific criteria, but they only assess. What would happen if we coached teachers to create thorough lesson plans and then assessed those showcase lessons? Teaching and learning would improve.

Let's bring back the bicycle analogy. Teaching a child in a school setting is like teaching a child to ride a bicycle:

  1. Objective - We explain the point: "Today you will learn how to ride a bicycle."
  2. Direct Instruction and Modeling - We tell them how to do it and show by doing it ourselves.
  3. Guided Practice - We hold them up and run along beside them while they try it.
  4. Formative Assessment - We ask how it's going. We let go and and see what happens.
  5. Independent Practice - We ask them to do it themselves - - - over and over until they get good at it.
  6. Differentiation - We use strategies to address different rates or ways they learn.
  7. Collaboration - We let them try it with their friends.
  8. Higher Order Thinking Skills - We take them to a new level.
  9. Assessment - We test them out to see if they're ready to venture out on their own.
Using these time-tested strategies is essential to a high score on teacher evaluation rubrics. More importantly, they're essential to good teaching and learning.