Experienced teachers recognize in John Milton Gregory’s The Seven Laws of Teaching a thorough and challenging explanation of the many facets of the art of teaching. Like any great work, a Gregory rewards careful reading and discussion. And, of course, frequent re-reading reveals wisdom missed or underappreciated in previous readings. Gregory’s work deserves a featured place in the on-going professional development of teachers.
These exercises are meant to make the limited time
schools have for faculty development engaging and practical. The exercises
assume a 30-45 minute window of time committed to discussion of the principles
and possible applications in individual teachers’ classrooms.
Because most schools will be doing this kind of
training in after-school meetings the sessions are meant to encourage a high
degree of active participation and to be lead from the ‘back of the room’ by
the facilitator. This, of course, models what we want our teachers to be doing
in their classrooms. Too often faculty professional development is done in a
manner that we would not want teachers using in their own classrooms, with
teachers passively listening to a presentation.
So, the following activities are designed to engage
teachers and to model good classroom instruction at the same time. These
activities are ‘field-tested’—that is, they being used successfully with actual
K-12 classroom teachers in actual faculty meetings.
In addition, as much as possible the exercises are
designed to follow or mirror the particular law being discussed. For example,
for the Law of the Learner, which emphasizes attracted attention as the result
of engaging, thoughtful questions, the exercise involves two broad questions.
The selected passages from Gregory include questions and tasks meant to ‘shake
the shoulder’ (in Gregory’s phrase) of the learner and to attract their
attention to the problem.
If these sessions in some way help individual teachers,
and their schools, to grow in the understanding and application of the art of
teaching they will have fulfilled their purpose.