Debunking the great myth of incentive-based education.
Too often, teachers, administrators, and staff developers focus on the smallest and least significant aspect of the classroom: the lesson. Sometimes they aim even smaller: the question, the questioning techniques, the single-sentence goal written on the front board. To engage in meaningful learning as a teacher, you need to slowly move towards looking at education, and your classroom practice as a progressively bigger picture into which all the smaller, less significant pieces fall into their perfect place, with the correct emphasis.
Classroom Culture: the Biggest Picture That Matters the Most
If I could restructure the way education is taught, and the way that professional development is conducted in one major way, it would be to de-emphasize teaching technique, and to emphasize classroom culture. When you refine your classroom culture upwards through the phases below, you will naturally find that your classroom becomes a place in which your teaching techniques will improve. Once you hit the final phase: "Learning for Learning's Sake" your classroom becomes a place where weak methodology gets recognized immediately by both the students and the teacher, and because all parties involved are learning for learning's sake, making adjustments becomes incredibly intuitive.
How should I progress through the Four Phases of Classroom Culture?
I know that when I started teaching, I would have wanted to jump to Phase 4 immediately, so I would have skipped all the reading on the first three pages. Each phase has its own advantages, and its own inherent learning and refinement attached to it. I'd recommend reading all four phases first, doing some honest self reflection, realizing what phase your classroom is in right now, and then slowly refining your techniques to emphasize the next step in succession. Don't try to jump from Phase 2 to Phase 4 without trying out some of the techniques practiced and learned in Phase 3.
So much of the writing published about education is published by people who don't teach. I figured it was time for a teacher to write about teaching. I've been proud to teach 8th-grade ELA in Dunkirk City Schools since 2007, and to serve at Fredonia State University as an adjunct professor, teaching educational technology since 2017.