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Who Are the Best Teachers of Teachers?

Just ask teachers about their learning. Who inspired them to become a teacher? Who helped them when they became a teacher? To whom do they constantly turn for advice? Where do they get many of their ideas?

The answer most given is almost universal -- other teachers. These role models might be the teacher across the hall, a master teacher in their school district, a teacher who taught them years ago, or a teacher they heard at a convention or even on television or in a videotape. There are, of course, school administrators, students and specialists such as librarians and technology people who have helped, but when teachers are looking for that "just right" inspiration, other teachers can't be beat.

It makes sense. Other teachers know. They are aware of the demands on time and talent. Although no two teachers teach in exactly the same way, they understand what is possible for each other and how to make what seems impossible possible. Teachers recognize those who are exceptional teachers and copy them in their own way. They model what successful teachers are doing and reshape the methods to fit their unique style. Although they may participate in conferences, graduate courses and inservice sessions, most teachers attribute their successes in teaching to ideas and methods gathered from colleagues. No where is this more obvious than in learning how to use technologies and how to integrate them into the curriculum. Let's face it, most schools have never had the luxury of hiring a staff of professionally trained computer experts like industry does to set everything up, train everyone who needs to learn how to use the technologies, keep everything running and provide individualized help when needed. And even if they had this staff of technical experts, the lion's share of teachers' learning would still come from other teachers because computer engineers aren't experts in education and teaching children.