their own performance improve
until they reach the capable level.
Although they may still need
to concentrate intently to carry
out a teaching strategy, capable
teachers are increasingly comfortable with a growing repertoire
Teachers who continually
reflect on their practice can eventually reach the inspired level.
This means they hold vast stores
of possible teaching strategies and
responses in mind and can sense
which ones are most effective at a
Students will show
us how to teach
them if we remain
open to the clues
given moment for given students. They
chunk information, meaning that they
make associations novices don’t and
connect disparate facts so quickly that
they appear to have strong intuition.
photo by kyle Steichen
Beyond “Know, Tell, Control”
People are quite clear that they want
good teachers, yet they often have a
simplistic idea of what good teachers
do. The public expects teachers to
know their subject, explain it to kids,
and maintain order—in shorthand
terms, to know, tell, and control.
But to understand how inspired teachers operate, we must
remember that teaching is a multidimensional activity.
Teachers observe students, talk with them, explain material,
and facilitate activities, often simultaneously, adapting as they
go. Although knowing, telling, and controlling are essential
teaching behaviors, they aren’t the whole story.
© Stefanie felix
Here’s why. The core teaching behaviors of knowing,
telling, and controlling have something important in
common; all three are mostly sending behaviors. Although
knowing a subject well may not seem like a sending behavior,
in the classroom teachers use their previously acquired
knowledge more like a “pool” or a tool; they sift through and
then select prior knowledge to use to send messages to students. When we are telling, we are clearly sending out information. And as we manage a classroom, we spend ample time
announcing rules and consequences. Even when teachers
demand explanations for problematic behaviors, we usually
hope for a short, apologetic summary.