“Aaaawwww, shucks!”, said the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz.
I hear his grumbly, humble voice in my head each time an administrator calls or writes and says, “I hear you’re an amazing teacher, Dr. Soifer.”
As a frustrated and admittedly cowardly stage actress, teaching teachers has become my way of performing – usually, I’m glad to say - to a captive audience. After decades of working with all kinds of learners from those in diapers to those in need of a shave from gifted to twice exceptional to those experiencing struggles with learning challenges, I shifted gears. I began to teach teachers more regularly. It has been my way of reaching more children.
When teaching teachers, I share practical knowledge, real-time techniques, and anecdotes galore that help these educators recognize their own students in my tales. I know my approach is working when I see that look on a teacher’s face that says, “Oh my! That’s Jonathan!” Once I had a teacher ask me if I had “been eavesdropping her classroom?” since I was describing several of her students.
Heads of Schools, superintendents of districts, conference directors both national and international, non-profit administrators, college department chairs, all appreciate my mantra, “Give them something to do in the morning.” The truth is that is what teachers truly need and really want.
Effective teaching is a Venn diagram of What? How? Why? No matter the topic I am addressing with teachers, my approach is to teach them What? to do and How? to do it, while smuggling in Why? through references to contemporary research (and providing bibliographies) and many, many examples and demonstrations.
Practicality. Immediacy. Effectiveness.
Talking isn’t teaching but sharing and showing in real time gives teachers something important to do with the children in the morning.
I’ll be glad to travel the Yellow Brick Road with your teachers to encourage and enhance their learning.