In a blended learning classroom teacher quality is still the number one strategy to improve student growth. This week I shared a post regarding blended learning and implementation strategies, and included our finding that age is not a reliable predictor of success in such a technology-enabled classroom.
Some have expressed concern that older teachers are techno-phobes who will resist changes in the modern classroom. We've seen very experienced teachers make the transition, however. Though it required hard work and dedication, they have emerged with a renewed confidence and enthusiasm about their pedagogical roles. With the right attitude traits, ANY teacher can be successful in this modern approach to instructional design. Below are the three critical attitude traits that we seek in our hiring process.
Perseverence is required to be successful as a teacher, especially in making the paradigm shift to a blended, student-centered classroom. This is a difficult transition with a large degree of uncertainty and a steep learning curve. Practical Intelligence contributes much to the grit-factor, where the person has a strong tendency to learn from past experiences and then use that wisdom to make adjustments and improve performance. One leading indicator for a person with "true grit" is if he/she had to work in order to pay their way through college. Grit includes the ability to work through setbacks, as well as an unwavering long-term commitment. According to the grit expert, Angela Lee Duckworth, "Grit and talent either aren't related at all or are actually inversely related."
Teachers with a coachable spirit are in high demand! These instructional leaders are willing to experiment and take risks, look forward to purposeful change, are flexible, and exhibit the utmost in humility and respect. How can you improve if you've got it all figured out?
Matchbook Learning has achieved a remarkable level of teacher growth in bottom 5% turnaround schools because every member of the faculty receives 40 classroom observations, up to 12 instructional coaching sessions, and at least 4 career coaching sessions each school year! Only the highest level business executives and professional athletes receive that level of individual attention. These teachers understand that the practice of teaching is a process that can and must be consistently improved throughout the year, so they willingly and enthusiastically work with their coaches to achieve better results. (Because we hired or renewed that kind of person in the first place)
Lone Rangers are dangerous in this kind of school culture. We definitely want teachers who share well, seek to learn from each other, and make others in the school better. In schools that are as advanced and sophisticated as these, the contributions of many talented people must be coordinated and connected. Shared vision is at the core of collaboration, and is implemented through a process of cooperative leadership and authority. Schools cannot succeed in this emerging educomony with an "Us vs. Them" mentality that has for too long been the standard operating environment. Teachers and administrators who are expert collaborators will thrive!