Preping for NECCIt’s an exhilarating time.  The phone calls have diminished as has the e-mail.  Most educators are winding down the new year.  Brenda and I will attend the high school graduation of a niece this afternoon, just before dropping my son off at the Train station for orientation at UNC-Charlotte on Monday!

For some of us, we’re winding up for NECC, preparing presentations — and as a result, thinking and rethinking about teaching, learning, classrooms, and schooling in this time of rapid change.  I’m especially excited about the preconference workshop I’ll be teaching on Sunday (June 24).  Since NECC provides presenters with the e-mail addresses of educators who have registered for our workshops, I can contact them and learn more about their needs.  For this particular workshop, a wiki has been established, where attendees are quite literally participating in the planning and even setting the agenda of the event.  I will feel much more confident that the learning I plan to facilitate will be what the audience needs.

In amongst all of this thinking and planning and thinking and planning, I was interviewed last week by Kansas educator, Kevin Honeycutt for his Driving Questions podcast.  Honeycutt asked some great questions, and as is often the case, I didn’t think of the really good answers until after we’d laid our Skypes to rest.

One of those questions regarded skills for beginning teachers, right out of university.  This one hit home as my daughter has only one more year of college before entering the education workforce.  I gave some rambling answers, but two ideas occurred to me today — days later.  One question that I might ask, as a school principal interviewing a prospective teacher is, “What have you learned today?” 

I’m not looking for teachers who merely know how to teach.  I want professionals, for which learning is an active and conscious part of every day life.  I’d want to know what they’ve learned today, and what they think about it — might be a useful conversation starter.

The other thing that I would ask is, “How would you go about preparing a particular unit (and here’s the good part) without a teacher’s edition to the textbook.  How would you learn what you’ll need to know, what will you do with what you’ve learned in order to give it energy, and how will you convey it to your learners?”

One of the ideas that keeps hitting me over the head as I plan for my NECC presentations is that we do our children a disservice by teaching them from pre-packaged, scientifically classified knowledge.  It’s teaching by killing the content and mounting it.  Our students today must come to learn by living with the content in it’s own habitat, observing, experimenting, exploring, and discovering.  EduTopia this month asked sages to speak out on whether teaching is an art or a science.  I would say that it’s a bit of both —

— but to say that it is wrong to say that teaching is a science.

However, it might be useful to say that learning is!

3 thoughts on “NECCPrep”

  1. I like your questions and your perspective…. it helps me articulate what really is important. I am in the middle of interviewing and I may try out your questions there but i think they also belong in the faculty room daily.
    On the other side of things I was getting ready to write about a post and article I read that reminds me that we need to keep talking because there is a lot working against the change and a lot at stake.
    Below is an excerpt form what I read…I think it speaks for itself and underscores your point..

    I came to this article via a blog from New Zealand. Your probably should read the article ( and the blog ) it in it’s entirety but here are a few excerpts from the article.

    “When Seattle elementary-schoolers open their math textbooks this fall, they’ll all be on the same page — literally….
    In an attempt to boost stagnant test scores, elementary teachers will start using the same math textbooks and materials and covering lessons at the same time as their colleagues at other Seattle elementary schools, the School Board decided Wednesday…..
    The move is the latest step toward the district’s goal of streamlining and standardizing the math curriculum. The district has two formally adopted math programs, but over the years, teachers have had the flexibility to create their own math lessons, culling bits from various other math programs they liked….
    That piecemeal approach has worked well for some schools, but not all. And the inconsistency has made it difficult for students transferring from one school to another.”

    There is so much wrong with this picture…

  2. David, you are so good at posing questions and posting thought provoking statements. After reading this post, I had to gather my thoughts on my own blog:

    I agree with David’s thoughts. I enjoy learning something every day, and often want to share my discoveries or observations (thus the blog.) I even have a block in my office that reads, “Learn Everyday.” I feel strongly that it is important we model for students the process and joy of learning independently, as opposed to spoon feeding a class of students, “Read Chapter 9 in the textbook and answer the questions on the worksheet.”

    I hope you’ll read the complete post at and maybe even leave a comment. Thanks for the inspiration, once again.

  3. I thought the two questions you proposed were so thought provoking I forwarded a copy of this blog to my principal and vice principal. I especially liked the direct connection to technology the second question raised as many are not aware how to teach without a teachers guide and probaly would have trouble researching how to teach something they are going to teach or incorporate inot a lesson.

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