Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Power of Teaching

There is a great deal of power in your hands. Educators have the ability to shape the direction of our students lives (not too shabby). However, what qualities make an effective teacher? The “Power of Teaching” is a behavior pathway analysis created by Dr. Joseph Wise and David Sundstrom. The program hopes to lead educators in becoming more aware of their teaching style, behaviors in the classroom and there impact or effectiveness with students.

At first this program seemed, to me, to be another fad approach to conducting staff evaluations, but upon a more creative twist I found it to be a great tool for coaching effective teaching strategies. Here is a great way to understand it. We all feel that we are effective in the classroom, I mean as you all know I was an AMAZING teacher! :) But sometimes we miss an ineffective thing we do that could be detrimental to a lesson or might not harm anyone but could be improved upon. Imagine you videoed a lesson you taught and had to watch it back and observe yourself (I can hear your stomach dropping. After all we are perfectionist and are own worst critics!) When we look back on ourselves and step away from what we are doing, behaviors that we would never pay attention to become more obvious. For example, how someone might pace back and forth when they lecture, or constantly move their hands while they talk (Guilty!), or as I mentioned in a faculty meeting, only give general praise like “Great Job!” instead of a specific message to a student for what they have done a great job doing.

The confusing part about observing someone or yourself is to know what your looking for. The “Power of Teaching” provides a tool designed after a meta-analysis of over 600 national educational studies based on teaching styles. This instrument outlines what would be considered effective or ineffective techniques for specific categories of behaviors. When used correctly it can gather information about things you do during a lesson and the frequency at which you do them. You can then make an assessment of which of these behaviors you would like to target based on the level of impact on you and students. If you didn't do anything with it at all its at minimum great information to have! You received a copy of this form during one of faculty meetings. I have also attached it here.

Since it might be easy to blow off certain ineffective things we do when watching our own lesson, I found the best use of the form is to have the feedback of a peer without any administrative involvement. We not only learn from the feedback, but also learn from watching other professionals.

How comfortable would you be observing a colleague or being observed yourself? I would love to hear your thoughts.


  1. I think the idea of peer coaching is great! We do this with our students because we know how effective it can be, so why not help each other. I would feel very comfortable asking a friend/colleague of mine to constructively critique my teaching. I am always looking for ways to become a better teacher. I would welcome the suggestions of others whom I respect.

  2. I am not quite sure how I feel about having others observe me... I think for me, it would depend on who the person is (that is coaching me). I would have to feel comfortable enough with the person/colleague who is coming in; to know that I am not going to be judged outside of the classroom. At the same time, I have often thought about how nice it would be to be able to observe other teachers teach. We have great teachers in our building whom I respect greatly and I know that I can learn so much from them, given the opportunity.

  3. I am open to being observed. In my position, there are other teachers in my class all the time. I wouldn't mind some constructive criticism to improve myself as a teacher.

    I don't know that I would feel as comfortable observing someone else.

  4. The opportunity to learn from other educators through observation is a great idea. This prospect is exciting, but it makes me feel jittery at the same time. No matter how many times I am observed, I still get a little nervous.

    I agree with Kay. I would like the assurance that only constructive criticism would be offered. At this time, I do not feel comfortable critiquing another.

    Are the books “Swtich” and “Power of Teaching” available for us to borrow?

  5. I am not sure how I feel about observing my peers. I was a part of a district summer program back many years ago that involved observing other teachers teaching styles. It is very hard to be totally honest with any type of criticism when it might involve the hurt feelings of your peers. I am, however, all for grade level sharing of activities and techniques that work. We should have more townwide grade level meetings.