May I see your lesson plans?

Have you asked your mentor this question yet? How comfortable are you sharing your lesson plans with someone else? Would you be willing to show yours to a colleague?

Dr. Van Dyk presents an interesting challenge to all of us in Chapter 5 of The Maplewood Story (2007). I don’t know that I have shared my plans with too many folks in my teaching career, just the occasional administrator who would evaluate me or ask for a copy.

A couple quotes from chapter 5:
“I know that experience can easily create havoc with refelctive planning. The longer we teach, the more we rely on our experience, and the more strongly we are tempted to go on ‘automatic pilot’ or just ‘wing it.’ Unreflective planning occurs when we quickly scan what we’ve done before, then just do it again.” (p.27)

“…a reflective approach to lesson planning requires that teachers ask key questions: Do my goals and objectives, my strategies, the content of what I intend to teach, and my assessment procedures reflect my foundamental worldview and my philosophy of education?’ (p. 27).

Dr. Van Dyk encourages this occasional practice. Give it a try this week with your mentor/protege and see what develops.

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Is your school hot?

As a recovering principal 🙂 and supervising teacher of pre-service teachers, I have the wonderful opportunity to walk the halls of quite a few schools. I love to ‘check the temperature’ of each school in the first five minutes after I enter. What is the first thing that I observe when I open the front door? Who is the first person (if anyone) to greet me? What is my ‘gut’ feeling about the school? I don’t think I am alone  While these temperature checks are never comprehensive enough to make a judgement or generalization, they are pretty valuable as a first impression.

On pages 19-20 of The Maplewood Story (2007) Dr. Van Dyk asks some great questions about Maplewood during his principal-led tour. Does the school breathe an air of reflection? Is this the kind of place where a reflective culture will feel at home? Is it safe to say that ‘a school is a school is a school”? Are all schools essentially the same and different only in the details?

An idea for you to consider: Take an individual walk through your school and respond to some of these questions. Post your responses to this blogsite for the rest of us to read and consider. After walking through your schools, I have some thoughts to share but would be greatly interested in comparing my perspective with yours!

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Mentoring to Make the Mountain

A mountain might be a decent metaphor when you view the task of teaching from the eyes of a first-year teacher. Mountains come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of difficulty. Some of the trails are narrow and treacherous while others are wide and incredibly refreshing to traverse. One thing we know for sure, mountain climbing is much easier when we travel with someone who knows the trail. He/She can point out some pitfalls that exist, warn us when the trail gets dangerous, and help us enjoy the magnificent sights and sounds that we will encounter.

Our purpose is to facilitate this journey between two climbers. This blog will serve as a venue to talk about the trail. We will use Van Dyk’s The Maplewood Story to frame our discussions throughout the year. I hope this book will be a very enjoyable read as it takes us through a school year in a most reflective manner.  Please do not limit your responses to this novel, but enjoy the opportunity to share your experiences with others who are on a similar journey (just on a mountain located in a unique part of the range!). Each of you can post and respond so let’s keep the conversation going!

May God bless our travels,

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