Open Your Door!

As a classroom teacher, I hated to be observed. Heck, I hated to teach in a room where another teacher was working, even if they weren’t even paying attention to me? I never could figure out why I felt that way…

Now that I have begun to live my life online — open and transparent, as much as possible — I realize how debilitating that prior mindset was to my teaching. Of course I learn a lot fromthe other great souls who are teaching and living out in the open. But my openness is forcing me to be more introspective and reflective: Why am I doing what I’m doing, and what can I do to make it better? Opening the door to my online persona has caused me to be more introspective and reflective. It has helped me to grow professionally and personally, even if nobody ever reads a word that I write.

I firmly believe that the average teacher’s, well, openness to openness is directly proportional to that of the school’s in which she works. It is a learned behavior that is nurtured by the institution. If a school were to implement a healthy open-door and/or walkthrough policy — with the goal of observation and not appraisal — it would be an easy step for those teachers to begin to share their professional practice to a wider audience.

So why are schools in general and teachers in particular so reticent to openning their doors, either to their parents or their colleagues or to the world? What are they afraid that others will see? Maybe more accurately, what are they afraid they themselves will see?

Image: ‘open door‘ licensed under CC BY NC

3 thoughts on “Open Your Door!

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  • May 12, 2010 at 7:20 am
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    Hey Clint,

    I was exactly the same – I’d always get very nervous about someone coming into my classroom to observe me. The thought of teaching in an open space (like I do currently) would have been very unnerving to me as a young teacher.

    The more of an online presence I have, the more reflective I become. I don’t ever believe I have all the answers, but sometimes the answers I do have might be useful to others. Goodness knows others’ ideas have helped shape my practice.

    Is it a product of getting older and more comfortable with this job we call teaching? Or is it more of a willingness to admit to both successes AND failures in an arena where people are supportive and understanding?

    I’m in the process of writing a blog post about my latest failure. I’ll keep you posted…!

    K-L

    Reply
  • May 12, 2010 at 1:05 pm
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    I don’t think it is a function of age or experience: I know plenty of older or more experienced teachers who have the same sort of hang-ups.

    I wonder if it stems, partly, from that idea of the teacher being “the expert”. If you have another teacher in the room, particularly a supervisor, who becomes the alpha-dog then?

    The cause doesn’t really matter though. I think your point about acknowledging failures is spot on. We will all fail at something (If you’re not failing, you’re not trying, right?). That lack of total success should not be used to judge somebody. Rather it should be celebrated as a way of moving forward and improving. Joe Bower just linked to a great video on failure.

    Reply

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