Sunday, January 4, 2009

What We Learned from Annette Breaux 1.0

This is the first post in a series of reflections on our visit with Annette Breaux.

On Friday, January 2, we were fortunate enough to have Annette Breaux, educator and author of Seven Simple Secrets, on campus with our faculty . Annette promised us at the beginning of her time with us that we would not be bored for one minute and, three hours later, she had kept her promise. She spoke to us specifically about what it means to teach effectively and how to be an effective teacher. Much of what she covered with us came from her book, Seven Simple Secrets, so I won't reinvent the wheel here and outline every teaching strategy she discussed. I will recommend, however, that every new or struggling teacher be given this book to read. Additionally, there are numerous ideas in the book that experienced teachers could revisit or perhaps try in their own classrooms. I believe administrators would do well to have and/or read this book as well. If you are an administrator and are seeking an exhaustive list of practices you should be seeing every day in your classrooms, this book is a terrific resource. Add this book to your library immediately.

One of the things Annette said really struck a chord with me. She said, "We are teachers not for the kid that gets it but we are teachers for the kid that doesn't get it." I remember from my years of coaching and teaching how easy it was to teach and to love the kids who never caused problems, who made always made the A, who always "got it," often probably in spite of me. The truth is that those kids are most probably going to be doctors, accountants, etc., and successful ones, too, no matter what we do in the classroom. The kids in the middle of the pack, admittedly where many students fall, also will be fine though they do need direction, guidance and instruction more than the first group I mentioned. The students who "don't get it," and this doesn't necessarily have anything to do with intelligence, are the ones who really need teachers. Without teachers, this last group probably will not "get it," will not be successful, at least in the short run. Annette stressed the importance of reaching those kids. Even in an independent school or magnet school setting, some kids will "get it" sooner and more easily than others. Thanks, Annette, for reminding us that we must endeavor to reach each and every one of our kids. If we (teachers) don't, who will?

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