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Teacher to Teacher: What We Need to Know and Be Able to Do

By Lynne R. Dorfman


Teaching today looks very different than it did when I started teaching in the 70s. We closed our doors and we were alone, for the most part. We didn’t have opportunities to share our thinking with others. We spent a great deal of classroom time delivering the content. Our principals, our rating officers, were often management leaders but not always instructional leaders.

Times have changed. Today, teachers must develop a collective teacher efficacy by going to conferences, reading professional journals, belonging to groups such as PCTELA (Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of English Language Arts) and Keystone State Reading Association, an organization that includes membership in a local council. Becoming a fellow of the National Writing Project by attending the graduate level course for the invitational summer writing institute is a path to continuing staff development by participating in events such as Continuity Days and PAWLPdays, offered by our site, the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project. From these conferences, courses, and readings, teachers need to take back information to their colleagues, talk about it, implement it, and decide what worked and what didn’t work. Ongoing collaboration through study groups, grade level meetings, and district professional development keep us honest, current, and cutting edge.

Three leading questions help us guide the work we do with our students. These questions are appropriate for both teachers and their students:

  • What am I learning today? (content)
  • Why am I learning this? (relevance)
  • How will I know that I have learned it? (criteria for success)

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