Everyone "knows" quality teaching because we were all students at one time. Unfortunately this statement is not at all true and it is many times the root of all evils in whats wrong with education today. WE all brush our teeth everyday but WE don't tell our dentist how to drill out and fill a cavity. Such is the case in classrooms across the United States. In the world of education today the buzz word for quality instruction is labeled MASTERY teaching. The questions then are what's quality teaching? How is it recognized? How is it judged? Who judges it and are they qualified to do so? The first misnomer that must be dispelled is that the mastery level of teaching can be attained quickly, in just a couple years; and that any successful college graduate can enter a classroom full of students, having read the text book and teach the content well. Teaching mastery is attained over time, it cannot be sped up. It takes collegial collaboration, dedication to the craft, hard work and a willingness to immerse your way of life to helping and setting an example for others twenty-four seven; it doesn't end with the sound of the bell. In identifying the mastery level of the teaching profession lets start the most basic of tasks; lesson planning and learning assessment...
In the classic children's book Green Eggs and Ham written by Dr. Seuss the character Sam-I-Am attempts to teach the unnamed character (Cat-in-the Hat) that one must try something new before they know if they enjoy it. Sam-I-Am makes many attempts to get his student to try the Green Eggs and Ham; offering up suggestion after suggestion, example after example or, in other words, differentiating his instruction. Sam-I-Am is altering, changing, re-assessing his approach, his presentation and/or his lesson. Motivating his student to try something new has proven to be difficult. For some reason or another, unknown to the teacher, the student is reluctant, even stubborn about learning something new; he will not try the tasty delight. The student comments, "...I would not could not; not in a box, not with a fox; not in a house, not with a mouse. I would not like them here or there. I would not like them anywhere. I do not like Green Eggs and Ham. I do not like them Sam-I-Am..." Obviously the teacher, Sam-I-Am, is in a very perplexing situation; his student is not receptive to what he is trying teach. This is the exact situation every teacher puts themselves in when they take up of the profession. This is the situation facing every educator when they create every lesson for every child every day. Sam-I-Am discovers over time, after experimenting with varying surroundings, in group settings and one-on-one, in motion and at rest, using trial and error, etc. that the delivery of his instruction is ineffectual. Sam-I-Am is able to finally breakthrough to his student due to shear persistence. He says "You do not like them so you say. Try them, Try them and you may I say." The student replies, "Sam if you will let be I will try them and then you will see..." Over the course of time due to persistence, trial and error along with dedication Sam-I-Am completed ONE successful lesson that now needs to be re-evaluated, tweaked and altered to make the learning experience for others in the future even better.
Graduating summa cum laude from a prestigious university, undergoing a professional semester in a classroom, and possessing great charisma and good looks could NOT have prepared Sam-I-Am for what he encountered in the world of education. Mastery in education is ONLY attainable over time by those that dedicate themselves to countless hours of toil to reach, teach, comfort and inspire ALL students. Mastery in education takes years because quality lessons are experiments in the making; they cannot, will not, be made in one evening or during a prep period. Mastery of the teaching profession is often misunderstood by those who have not, as Sam-I-Am says, "tried" it. This is not intended to be a dig or put down to those that do not teach; it's simply a fact. If you have never taught and you are wondering how to find that person that has truly mastered the art of the teaching profession don't look at the standardized test scores; don't ask the so-called experts or educational reformers. Ask those that have made the choice to remain in the classroom to teach; ask those that have dedicated themselves to the children of the community; ask those that are able to motivate EVERY child to try something new. When you ask this person they will most likely direct to you to a fellow colleague; if so, this humble soul is your MASTER EDUCATOR, that's your Sam-I-Am.