Doug Fisher had a profound affect on my outlook today, and I’ll likely spend the next few days putting together some more of my thoughts that came from his shared session. At this moment, I’ve got this one stuck in my craw:
We need to model expert thinking for our students.
All too often, he states, we see too much “explaining and interrogating,” and not enough of modeling how we think through a text, how we go about finding information when we really need it. My standard line when it comes to this has to do a lot with Penny Kittle’s book Write Beside Them and our work with the National Writing Project in that if we are teachers of writing, we must be writers ourselves. We need to show that there are processes and skills that even we as educators, who have already done this thing called school, still work hard to figure things out.
He works in a high school with his colleague Nancy Frey, called Health Sciences High & Middle College and the shift to the Gradual Release of Responsibility has helped that school make incredible gains in learning and literacy. What it took was a huge shift from investing in the “magic bullet” programs to an equal or greater investment in teacher ability. For those of us who are in charge of providing professional development or making sure it is available to our teachers, that’s a huge shift. Amy Sandvold asked “why is it that teachers feel that the Professional Development expert have to be 50 miles away from your district in order for teachers to believe what they say?”
I’d like to see what we could do in our schools if we did invest in our own abilities rather than rely on some external force or program.