The Loneliness of Teachers
Can someone who’s constantly surrounded by people feel isolated?
It seems odd, and yet that’s exactly how many teachers feel, says former sixth-grade teacher Alex Grodd. They instruct classrooms full of kids all day, but may have only fleeting contact with other adults. They have to come up with new and interesting lessons to capture their students’ attention, but there’s often little support or sharing of such material among their peers.
That’s why Alex and a group of fellow teachers founded BetterLesson, which allows teachers to come together online and share lesson plans with each other. Talking to Alex today, I was struck by his remark that the most popular feature on his site is the one that allows teachers who contribute content to see how many people downloaded their material for use. It’s the kind of peer affirmation that what one is doing is useful and important that teachers too often lack.
Alex and his partners are now gearing up to offer teachers’ wisdom, not just on what to teach, but on how to teach—the practices and techniques and approaches that work best in the classroom. Readers of this blog know I’m committed to writing about scientific research on learning. But I’m also aware of the limits of such research—of how much researchers still don’t know about how we teach and how we learn. As Daniel Willingham, one of the best cognitive scientists around, puts it: “Craft knowledge trumps science” when the scientific knowledge base is thin or inconsistent.
Teachers are the ultimate experts, and BetterLesson gives them a way to share what they know. Check out the site here, and let me know what you think.