Oct 29, 2009

Teaching Teachers How To Teach

... not entirely, but I like the title.

This year, I was approached to lead the new batch of OTF math teachers - 11 first year math teachers teaching in Oakland. Only a third year myself, I questioned if I was capable. Then, I concluded: I know exactly what it's like to be a first year OTF'er and I've got at least a small handle on what's good and what's not in terms of excellent teaching. So, I said yes.

It's an odd thing. You prep for your first day w/ your teachers the same way you prep for your students. You want an activity prepared when they walk through the door. You want to make a good first impression. You want to create buy-in so that each session afterward is not a "ugh, I hate going to this place" but rather something they can look forward to. The nervousness and butterflies that fill me the night before my first day were the same that filled me before my first session.

The only difference: rather than introducing myself as 'Mr. G,' I was just 'Eyawn."

It was awkward at first, standing in front of a classroom of teachers, young adults whose professions match my own. I mean, who am I to teach teachers how to teach with a face as young as theirs?

I opened the session w/ the same type of stuff I open my real class. Opener w/ floating numbers at the top to remind them of their time left. Calling on folks randomly w/ cards. Random question (how tall was the tallest man that ever lived?) then shared a photo they awed at. Etc. Etc. The entire time, I doubted whether ANY of this was worth any of their time. (The meeting was mandatory for them).

And then something happened. I began sharing the methods I employed inside and outside the classroom that got me through my first year. I began sharing what drives my own practice and my own class. Their eyes widened and they started asking great questions. I got flashbacks to how wide my own eyes felt during that first year and was surprised at how quickly and comfortable I was to answer questions now. At the corner of my eye, I saw note-taking. I became a believer of my own abilities to fill this role, and a believer in the role itself - to support first year teachers towards becoming great teachers themselves.

Looking through feedback folders afterward, I take note of positive responses and become quite proud of myself. My efforts to providing an equitable education no longer occur solely within my classroom walls, but possibly ripple beyond to others as well.


Krizia said...

I like the idea of that possible ripple.

Cool job Mr. G.

Lsquared said...

Sounds like a great success. Post some of those tips here too!