Round & RoundBy Lory Hough
Borrowing a page from the medical school world, educators at the Ed School are showing teachers and school leaders how to find common ground when it comes to learning and instruction.
Sarah Fiarman, Ed.M.’05, Ed.D.’09, remembers being with a group of educators as they sat in a classroom observing a reading lesson. The teacher was asking lots of questions and students were constantly raising their hands. All of the textbooks were open. Afterwards, the group of principals, superintendents, and union leaders gathered to talk about what they saw. As Fiarman remembers it, the comments were all over the map.
“Some left feeling like, Wow! Did you see how engaged the students were? Others thought the text wasn’t useful,” she says. Other comments were directed at the teacher’s performance. Fiarman herself felt like no real learning had taken place.
Now a principal at a K-8 school in Cambridge, Mass., this former teacher realizes that everyone was on different pages when it came to describing the scene and evaluating the classroom. “We didn’t have a shared practice,” she says. “As educators, we have such different ideas of what effective teaching and learning is.”
Now imagine that the educators are medical students and instead of observing a class, they are in a hospital room with an experienced doctor visiting a patient. Later, huddled outside in the hallway, the group talks about what they saw. Their comments are factual and based on evidence: I noticed this; the patient did that. Questions get asked. Eventually, a diagnosis is offered, as well as potential treatments. Everyone is on the same page before they move on to the next patient.
Could this same medical training model — one that includes a shared language and a common sense of what’s effective — work for educators?