If you aren’t getting better, you’re getting worse

On homeostasis and entropy:

Homeostasis is a simple, yet powerful core concept of biology – that all living things strive for balance

The catch is that the mortal enemy of homeostasis is entropy – the principle that all things in the universe tend to disorder and that it requires energy to resist the inevitability of this disorder.

If I don’t work out every day, my physical fitness deteriorates. I have to put energy in every day to maintain (better yet, improve) my fitness level.

I want to be a better teacher. If I don’t direct energy every day into getting better, I’m getting worse.

A challenge to myself:

Teaching is incredibly complex and if we aren’t careful, we can get worse at it – and quickly. So I’m going to use this blog to help me do some work on my craft. I hope my readers will feel compelled to question, criticize and otherwise push my thinking.

To start down this road, I’m pulling together 3 core tenets of my classroom to place emphasis on. The first is inquiry. Since moving to a new school, I’ve been swimming upstream to try to get back to the headwaters of inquiry. The second is student engagement. More student connection to the content, more student thinking, more student doing. The third is assessment; both formative and summative (standards-based grading).

To summarize, 3 goal areas to improve my teaching practice:

  1. Inquiry (more and better)
  2. Increased student engagement
  3. More effective assessment

How will I improve?

Cal Newport has blogged repeatedly and brilliantly on the idea of deliberate practice. Daniel Willingham, in “Why Don’t Students Like School” wrote:

“… if you want to be a better teacher, you cannot be satisfied simply to gain experience as the years pass. You must also practice, and practice means (1) consciously trying to improve, (2) seeking feedback on your teaching, and (3) undertaking activities for the sake of improvement, even if they don’t directly contribute to your job.” (Willingham, 2010)

All roads lead to practice, it seems. So that’s where I’m going.

The Plan:

It isn’t complicated: Pick a focus strategy, protocol, method, whatever. Plan it. Do it. Reflect. Revise. Redeem. Repeat. Attack those 3 goals fervently, consistently and intentionally. The plan and reflect parts will happen here – for all to see. If I get really ambitious, I’ll post some video. That idea scares me, so that probably means I should do it!

2 thoughts on “If you aren’t getting better, you’re getting worse

  1. Glad you’re back and blogging. Looking forward to your reflections on these new goals. I’m planning to facilitate a group of teachers at my school in some similar action research this year (Will post about it soon). Maybe you can Skype in at some point…

  2. Thanks Edna!

    Let me know what you have in mind. I’d love to Skype in and chat with your group. Please invite them to comment on my posts too.

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