Once again, a post by Jen Marten has settled in my brain and won’t stop rattling there until I pay attention to it. This one is called “What’s Your Groundhog Moment” and it’s highly recommended (along with all her other posts!).
Do you remember Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day? He had to relive the same day over and over again till he got it right.
Can you imagine teaching the same unsuccessful lesson over and over again till you got it right?
But wait a minute.
Imagine if your school had the kind of culture and the suitable framework where teachers could meet on a regular basis and “relive” difficult lessons, without being afraid. Afraid of hearing “tsk tsk” or “honestly, how could you have reacted that way” not to mention (for some teachers) fear of losing your position.
Imagine the professional development the staff members would be getting, without hiring an outside specialist, by analyzing lessons together the way cases are brought to staff meeting in other professions (such as psychologists, to name one). Each time it would be another teacher’s turn, so no one would feel permanently in the “hot seat”.
The turn-taking is vital. I refuse to believe that teachers who never have unsuccessful lessons exist.
The trouble is that the schools I encounter don’t seem to give any space for such reflection. During the school-day there is very little time for such talk, or sometimes any talk at all! Staff meetings are devoted to “business at hand”, are often in the evening after a long day at school. Everyone just wants to get what needs to be done over with and go home. In addition, it’s not at all clear to me that turn-taking would be enough to make everyone feel secure about discussing lack of success in front of others. It’s so much more convenient to close the door, be alone with your class and keep it that way.
For me it seems counterintuitive but true – having a blog is the only place to confront those lessons that call for Groundhog Day treatment. While posting tales of problematic lessons online may seem like hanging dirty wash for all to see, in reality the teachers who actually read teachers’ blogs are those who are interested in reflection themselves. Their comments can be of invaluable help.
My blog is my little Groundhog Friend. We don’t have Groundhogs here, or Groundhog Day, or snow for that matter (well, occasionally is some parts of the country, never in mine!). So many thanks to Jen Marten for lending me the image!