Professional Practice

Middle School Matters Podcast #21

How has professional practice changed over the last 10 years?

  • Medical Model.
  • Teaching ALL (Each and Every) Student
    • Inside-Outside in the Middle Reflective Strategies for Middle Level Teachers by David L. Puckett
    • Drumming to the Beat of a Different Marcher by Dr. Debbie Silver
  • Data
  • Collaboration
  • Expectations
  • Edutainer

How do you tear down the walls of the fiefdom?

  • Establish a relationship with another teacher.
  • Videotape yourself
  • Discuss practice
  • Interdisciplinary units

Observation of another

  • Set up a reciprocal arrangement
  • Agree to the ground rules and norms of observation.

Center the Observation and discussion around observable characteristics:

Observable Characteristics of Effective Teachers

  • Begins class promptly and in a well-organized way.
  • Treats students with respect and caring.
  • Provides the significance/importance of information to be learned.
  • Provides clear explanations.
  • Holds attention and respect of students, practices effective classroom management.
    • “Studium Discendi Voluntate Quae Cogi Non Potest Constat.” – Marcus Fabius Quintilianus
  • Uses active, hands-on student learning.
  • Varies his/her instructional techniques.
  • Provides clear, specific expectations for assignments.
  • Provides frequent and immediate feedback to students on their performance. Praises student answers and uses probing questions to clarify/elaborate answers.
  • Provides many concrete, real life, practical examples.
  • Draws inferences from examples/models and uses analogies.
  • Creates a class environment which is comfortable for students….allows students to speak freely.
  • Teaches at an appropriately fast pace, stopping to check student understanding and engagement.
  • Communicates at the level of all students in class.
  • Has a sense of humor!
  • Uses nonverbal behavior, such as gestures, walking around, and eye contact to reinforce his/her comments.
  • Presents him/herself in class as “real people.”
  • Focuses on the class objective and does not let class get sidetracked.
  • Uses feedback from students (and others) to assess and improve teaching.
  • Reflects on own teaching to improve it

National Middle School Association Standards

  • NMSA standards and guidelines could be turned into observation statements and used to help assess teacher performance.
  • What if we took a snapshot of ourselves as teachers from the viewpoint of the stakeholders?
  • Survey Administrators, Parents, Students, and Teachers.


  • The Ohio Middle School Association’s Annual Conference, February 21-22, 2008 in Columbus, Ohio (
    • Sample of session topics:
      • Dealing with difficult people, Ed. Vittardi
      • Because You Teach, Monte Selby (Keynote)
      • NMSA Toolkit, John Swaim
      • Effective Collaboration Practices, J. Wilson
      • Enhanced Leadership: The Principal’s Role as a Change Agent, D. Major
      • Podcasting: A Creative Hook to Master the Achievement Tests, H. Grunenberg
      • Starting RTI at the Middle Level, B. Kermayner
      • Transescent Transitions to Middle School, S. McGirr (Magnolia Room, Session III 1:45 – 2:45 p.m.)
      • Engage ’em, Assess ’em, … and Watch ’em Achieve: The Classroom Performance System, D. Delaney
  • The Michigan Association of Middle School Educators, March 13-14, 2008 in Saline, Michigan. (
  • Japanese Scientists put a camera in a brain!
    • What I could do with this ….
  • Michigan Joint Education Conference, July 25, 2008 (
    • Presenters wanted on interdisciplinary education topics.