When I first started teaching a veteran teacher told me, “If you stick around long enough, you’ll see everything come and go and come back again. The pendulum is always swinging.” Over the course of my educational career, I have heard this sentiment repeatedly. Be that as it may, I am confident that the pendulum is not swinging back.
The proverbial pendulum gained popularity in the early twentieth century when one of the greatest educational thinkers, John Dewey, proposed that teaching and learning be based on experience, continuity, and interaction. Unfortunately, Dewey was misunderstood by many. His views were seen as radically progressive. Other educational scholars believed that Dewey was calling for “total freedom” in the classroom and used the pendulum as a way to visualize a monumental swing in the opposite direction of their educational philosophy. However, Dewey did not promote “total freedom”. In fact, the message Dewey strived to spread was that learning should be pertinent and innovative within a structured system. These criterion would promote the deepest levels of learning.
Dewey’s ideology continues to hold true today. As educators, it is our obligation to ensure that our students experience learning that is relevant, collaborative, accessible, and suitable for them. Although it may be hard to hear, there are certain instructional strategies, methods of content delivery, and assessment types that have been rendered obsolete and will not be returning. This “radical shift” in teaching can be a big pill for some teachers to swallow, especially in today’s fast-paced world. For me personally there have been many times that I felt overwhelmed as I have grown as an educator. How can one possibly keep-up with all of the research, technological advances, and mandates? This is where an instructional coaching can make a marked difference.
Instructional coaches are non-evaluative thinking partners for teachers. Instructional coaches do not have all of the answers and learn alongside teachers to stay abreast of research-based best practices. Moreover, instructional coaches can help visualize practices in the classroom via modeling, co-teaching, or video recordings. Instructional coaches can help teachers reflect on and discover unrecognized intricacies of their practices. Instructional coaches can help make theory a tangible entity.
In all other facets of our lives we don’t exist in isolation. We reach out to others for a variety of reasons: childcare, advice, recommendations, etc. As a professional educator, reaching out to your instructional coach can be equally beneficial. You have an impartial partner in your journey to best meet the needs of your students. Together you can determine your goals, put them into practice, and say goodbye to the pendulum.