Wiggins, G. (2010). What’s my job? Defining the role of the classroom teacher. In R. J. Marzano (Ed.), On Excellence in Teaching. (10th ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Wiggins (2010) starts off by listing some of components in Danielson’s (2007) “framework for teaching.”  After a cursory reading of these components, Wiggins swoops in and points out that “few of the domain components stress the teacher’s need to commit to and cause results [emphasis in original].”

He goes on to state that a lot of other jobs have measurable goals, except for teaching.  I like his fervor, I like his point, but he is really tiptoeing around an even bigger elephant in the room.  Namely, that elephant is, how can you prove that a teacher has

  1. Caused successful learning?
  2. Caused greater interest in the subject?
  3. Caused greater confidence in students?

I firmly believe that it is not enough to simply have goals like this, but it has to be possible to measure this.  Without measurement, there can be no iterative improvement.  Without a metric, i.e a means of measuring progress, it is foolish to think that progress will magically happen.  I think that taking this point of view means that I am advocating standardized tests of some sort.  Those don’t actually come up in this article for a few more pages.

First Wiggins dismantles the notion that some teachers think real goals can be supplanted by “apparent learning goals.”  He assures us all that if we start with the goal in mind, our assessments our activities, will all flow out of them and real learning will occur.

Second Wiggins (2010) dismantles the objection that some teachers will hav that they need to teach to the textbook.  Wiggins (2010) writes:

Marching page by page through a text-book should never be the job of a teacher—ever. The textbook is written completely independently of teachers’ goals and students; it merely pulls together a comprehensive body of information in a logical package for use by hundreds of thousands of people with varying needs.

In this section Wiggins will talk specifically to standardized tests and how superficial and unengaging their questions really are.  He sees the exams as driving the mindless marches that teacher do through poor textbooks.  I couldn’t agree more that textbooks are the crutch for those with no compelling content.

Third, Wiggins (2010) urges teachers to be engaged with other faculty, and with students and topics outside the school walls.  He urges all teachers to collaborate across the subject aras and across grade levels.  Only then will curriculum be coherent and motivating.

Finally, Wiggins (2010) counters the objection that his vision for teaching stifles educator freedom with undue obligation.  He does this by returning to his thesis that teaching is about knowledge transfer.  And

…if transfer is the goal, then spending the most time in class lecturing is inappropriate; if meaning making is the goal, then instructional strategies have to involve students doing such things as research, Socratic seminar, and analysis of problems and cases (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998).

If real meaning making is the goal then something has to change, namely the focus of all our activities in the classroom.  Those are radical words, but that can and must be the role of a teacher

References

Danielson, C. (2007). Enhancing professional practice: A framework for teaching (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Wiggins, G. (2010). What’s my job? Defining the role of the classroom teacher. In R. J. Marzano (Ed.), On Excellence in Teaching. (10th ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2008, May). Put understanding first. Educational Leadership, 65(8), 36–41.

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