art of inspiration blog  

The Art of Teaching

They gave her a script! All I could do was shake my head. The pressure to perform on high stakes tests has gotten to the point that teachers are being given scripts to teach from. This is a travesty. As I thought about this I could only arrive at the conclusion that those who make these decisions have let the pressure of high stakes testing override their understanding of teaching.

In my experience, excellent teaching is comprised of two very important parts (in truth it is more complicated, but let’s just keep it simple for now). The first is content, a teacher must understand the content and earnestly endeavor to employ a variety of methods to help students master it. That being said, technology is now available that will always be able to give students access to more content than one individual teacher could ever hope to. And teachers are evolving, shepherding students to resources and helping them to gain mastery over the opportunities that new technology provides.

The Art of Inspiration

The second is, a part of teaching that no technology will ever be able to replace. It is the art of inspiration. It is impossible to teach in a training course, it can’t be gained from a new miracle method. Quite simply, the dedicated teacher develops this through trial and error. The veteran teachers can guide rookie teachers in finding their authentic way of inspiring students. It is intangible, it is special, it is magical.

It is why you remember the teacher that changed your life (shout out to John Sbordone!). It is what you do at that moment when you help a student face a life crisis by just listening, or when you chastise a student for not performing up to their potential. It cannot be measured in a new fangled evaluation rubric, and a teaching script is its death knell.

Why I created Quick Key

All of the above being said, we still feel the pressure. The students must perform, the rubrics must be filled out, the appetite of the evaluators must be satiated. But I will not turn my classroom into a fear of failure based worksheet factory. I created Quick Key so teachers could have access to formative data that they could use to support their out of the box teaching practices. When data exists that can back up the wacky and wild ways that educators find to inspire and educate their students, everyone’s needs can be met. I can have the freedom to teach, and at the same time have clear measures of student progress toward the standards. Let us marry data with the art of teaching to the benefit of our students. We must teach inspired!
 Walter Headshot
Walter Duncan is a 15-year veteran K-12 teacher. He is the co-founder of Quick Key, a tool that allows teachers to grade paper quizzes and tests with any mobile device, and school leadership to know how their students are progressing toward their learning goals in real time. Quick Key requires no student devices, hardware, or WiFi, and set up and implementation is effortless.
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