Friday, August 21, 2015

11 Serious Questions for Teachers

       Yesterday I welcomed our 200+ secondary mathematics teachers to the 2015 - 2016 school year.  We do this every school year and it is always an exciting day.  We get to see people we haven't seen since last June; middle school teachers get to network with their high school colleagues.  The first day of school is getting closer and closer.

       This year I welcomed them with 11 serious questions about teaching.  Since this week is filled with the details of preparing those first lessons, decorating the classroom, preparing class resources, and learning about any new school policies and procedures, teachers don't usually get the chance to sit down for 30 minutes and reflect on why they do what they do.

       Here are the questions I asked them.  Read each one and take 30 seconds to reflect on your answer to the question.

  1. Why do you teach?
  2. What is your goal this year?
  3. Will you make a difference?
  4. What will you do differently this year?
  5. How do you view challenges?
  6. Where is the line between impossible and very difficult?
  7. Do your students have a Growth or Fixed Mindset?
  8. How do you know when they "get it"?
  9. Do student's term grades reflect their ability?
  10. How do you move your students from procedural to conceptual understanding?
  11. Why do you teach?
       Teachers have a job to do.  It is a difficult, complex job.  And the need to grow and to improve in the job is necessary because it isn't the sort of job in which a person knows everything they need to know when they graduate from college.  Teachers face new challenges every year and their ability to find solutions to those challenges is generally what separates good teachers from great teachers.

       Here is a movie clip I shared with the teachers in which FDR struggles to stand up straight and then boldly says, "Don't tell me, 'It can't be done.'"

       Why do you teach?

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