Michael Doyle is the name. I’m sorry if you aren’t following this blog. I really mean that. If you haven’t read this guy, you are missing out. Stop doing that. Read it today. Then make sure you come back often. I can’t continue to dig deep reading the blogs of influential educators without stopping today to make sure a few more people are reading what I am.
Perhaps it is because Mr. Doyle, the “Science Teacher” as his blog is entitled, is deeply creative. Perhaps it is because he seems to have the integrity to follow his philosophy as a mission statement. Or maybe it is more about the fact that he too, is a science teacher. That is the easy connection for me.
I thought about linking to this blog a few weeks back, and instead aimed my comments directly to the author on the pages of the blog. After reading today’s post, What I know now… I decided that’s it: time to share with my readers once and for all.
Honestly, I needed this post today. After the end of yesterday, I needed to be reminded once again why I work as hard as I do. I have always attacked every aspect of my job as a teacher or coach as if it were my 170lb. opponent standing two feet away from me on the mat. While teaching my third period Dual-Credit Biology course, I felt like a king. It was one of those 80-minute slices of life that remind you of why you work so terribly hard. (the online “after-discussion“) As an instructional coach, I get those rewarding slices of time less often than I did when I was in the classroom full time.
When I am able to design an event on the scale of a classroom… twenty-five kids, four walls and me… I more-often-than-not-feel like a maestro. When I scale up any endeavor to include the building level, it feels less powerful, less connected. However, those events are still frequently very rewarding. When it is then scaled up to some district-level event, it too often feels less savory.
Perhaps this is just an indication of a lack of intimacy. This morning while writing this, I think maybe I now understand yet another facet of my own personality. I think I need intimacy. Sharing new things with 100 people in a room can be really fun. Working on a district level committee toward enhancing instruction can be quite rewarding. However, when there are too many strong personalities in one room it gets tough. Too many chiefs and too few indians perhaps. Too little social intimacy for sure.
One thing I learned in the classroom years ago is that often the most valuable thing I can do as a leader is to listen. How do I help steer the discussion in a way so that students can make their own meaning? How is it that I can lead by doing less and end up achieving more? I listen. I’ve become fairly good at it. I get it now.
I wish listening were a universal skill. Not “letting someone else talk,” not “allowing someone to state their opinion,” but listening. Really listening. How about that one, folks? How about we all decide as a group from the top to the bottom and the bottom to the top… from the students to the teachers and the teachers to the administrators… how about we focus on listening? The valuable practice of listening to other people is not “wait time.” Think about it, and get back to me. I wonder if we can find a book published by ASCD, worthy of a book study, sailing along by the succinct title: “Listening: No subtitle- because it just doesn’t need one.”
So after this run-on mess of jabbering, you are probably going to look for someone other than me to follow. You are probably going to need to read something a bit less “cathartic.”
Allow me to suggest a surrogate. Read Michael Doyle. From a careful case made about the disconnect between science and language, to the near poetry of November Light, or the grounding thoughts of Clamming and Competency. Poke around the site for a bit, you’ll find something you personally like even better.
What do I find here? I find nothing short of inspiration in the creativity and thoughtfulness of the author. I find reminders that “goal directed exhaustion is OK.“ Sometimes when I can barely even sleep due to professional fatigue… I really need that reminder.
This doctor-turned-science teacher deserves a wider audience. I hereby nominate Mr. Doyle’s Science Teacher as the “Best Teacher Blog” in the 2008 Edublogs Awards. I am now off to fill out the nomination form…….
Aguiar, Leonardo. “Sea Shells 4.” articotropical’s photostream. 31 MAY 2007. Flickr. 22 Nov 2008<http://www.flickr.com/photos/sensechange/523219230/>.
Audet, Rick. “Collaborate & Listen.” rick’s photostream. 07 OCT 2006. Flickr. 22 Nov 2008 <http://farm1.static.flickr.com/44/263214639_3a3503c31a.jpg>.