Developing Expert Teachers

After reading this chapter, it is clear that a teacher’s competency is directly related to student achievement. In classroom discussion at SPU, we have talked a great deal about putting high expectations on students, as well as placing high expectations on ourselves as teachers. The “expertise” of the instructor, which Ericsson and Charness (1994) refer to, goes hand in hand with the level of expectation on the students (p. 215). This is also supported in standards set by the EALRs and GLEs. In light of this discovery, one must focus on becoming an expert learner in order to become an expert teacher. The text says that this capability does not simply come from good genes; instead it is developed by a “well-articulated knowledge base and deliberate practice” (Marzano, 2010, p. 216). As a learner with both a speech impediment and poor short-term memory, this reinforces the adage that hard work pays off when coupled with diligent learning.

Of all of Marzano’s (2010) nine types of lesson segments, the classroom routine events resonated with me because it is an area where I see room for improvement (pp. 218-219). In these reoccurring events, Marzano highlights the importance of both communicating and making learning goals, feedback to students, and consistent routines and classroom procedures (Marzano, 2010, p.221). Looking back on my first year of teaching, I could have been clearer about how I conveyed learning goals by taking more time to map out where we were going as a class. Since I move from classroom to classroom, I easily got swept up by the rush of setting everything up each day and many times forgot to explain the daily goals.  With that said, I wonder if there is an efficient way for teachers who move from classroom to classroom to have an organized space that maintains classroom rules and procedures? This difficulty no doubt exacerbates any issues a teacher has with setting the tone of the classroom and communicating the daily goals of class lessons.

At the end of the chapter, Marzano (2010) says that teachers should devote time to deliberate practice, and in this point I believe that “practice” is the key word (p. 238). He stated that this “must continue for about a decade” to reach the level of excellence he refers to (Marzano, 2010 p. 238). In reading this, I can see how a teacher could have the temptation to admit defeat early in their career while reaching for a goal so far away. What would some strategies be for a teacher to keep optimism and confidence in the midst of experiencing the ups and downs of a decade-long refinement? Also, this must certainly not mean that a teacher is done honing their craft after a decade.  Marzano (2010) communicates this later in the chapter writing, “One reasonable expectation would be that all teachers in a school district should improve from year to year” (p. 239). In making sure that teacher expertise is improving year to year, Marzano (2010) assumes that the ultimate goals are being met. This only further illustrates the need for educator involvement when designing state testing if this standard supposes to be reaching ultimate teaching goals.  As Marzano writes, “Even small increments in teacher expertise over time could translate into substantial gains” (Marzano, 2010, p. 239). I hope to find joy in the process rather than finding failure, and I hope to find opportunities to learn, grow, improve and eventually, ten years down the road, reach expert performance as a practiced teacher and diligent learner.

Marzano, R. (2010). Developing Expert Teachers. In R. Marzano (Ed.), On Excellence in Teaching (pp 213 – 245). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

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6 thoughts on “Developing Expert Teachers

  1. Joanna,
    I’m glad you brought up the point about teachers struggling with set-up when they have to move from classroom to class to classroom. I’ve heard a lot of suggestions about teachers setting up their rooms to make it feel homey, to facilitate positive learning, etc., but how do you do that if you don’t have a room? This could be an excellent topic to research, “how to quicky set-up and take down a classroom to facilitate positive learning.” I’ll have to look into it more…Thanks for bringing it up! It is becoming increasingly more commons for teachers to be moving rooms almost as much as the students.

  2. I was also encouraged to read that teachers are not born, but hard work and diligent study are the keys to effective teaching. That’s very encouraging that I can learn the skills I need, and this has been my experience in most cases of employment as well. I was a substitute where I had to roam from room to room, and it is very difficult to be set up and ready when the students walk in when you are rushing to get ready. I can appreciate your difficulty and your awareness to see how stating the daily goals could be an improvement. I’m already trying to figure out how to state those goals clearly and concisely when I get in the classroom.

  3. Joanna, I completely agree with your concern that teachers could easily admit defeat well before the ten year mark comes around. I think the only thing that has kept me going some days is the knowledge that each day I’m better than I was the day before. Perhaps that is the key to surviving all those years while the craft is honed? Optimism and a strong sense of those little tiny improvements that are daily reminders of the approaching goal? Either way, I find myself convinced that even after 10 years, teachers must still be constantly learning things. Somehow, I find that comforting as well, that my mentor teacher, and the “expert” teachers out there are still learning just as we are, although I suspect their curve is much less steep.

  4. Hi Joanna. The ten years of practice may initially seem daunting, but after thinking about it, it seems to reinforce that as teachers we need to be lifelong learners. This also reinforces Dr. Algera’s comments today that teaching is a vocation. I also take some comfort in the thought that hard work and perseverance to the teaching craft really do pay dividends, both to the teacher and to their students.

  5. I’m glad you mentioned that good teachers must be good learners. One of the reasons I have chosen to go into teaching is because I love being a student, and I realize that becoming a teacher in many ways gives me the opportunity to be a life-long learner. I am really enjoying learning about teaching and I plan to keep reading research continually throughout my career.

  6. A nice discussion developed on your post. I trust that you were able to gain some additional insights from your cohort-mates. Your first teaching experiences have afforded you some valuable reference points in your own development. By keeping the nine lesson segments in mind, these reference points should certainly help you as you consider how to become even more effective.

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