Thursday, September 8, 2016

Best Practices - What are They?

If you are in education you have heard the term, "best practices."  What are they? What does that mean?  In delivering a prescriptive program a consultant will tell you about researched based "best practices" and how, if implemented correctly, you will teach the curriculum with fidelity and success.  I do agree with this, I have done my own case studies where I compared teachers that were trained in programs vs. those that weren't and their relative effectiveness.  This was on a very small scale within in one building, but I would agree with the statement; when a prescribe curriculum or program is taught within a context of "best practices" fidelity occurs and your maximum gains are achieved. 

But I want to go a little deeper.  What about the other 70% of the time you don't have prescribe programs.  What about "best practices" in those quick interventions, quality conversations, feedback sessions, management techniques, engagement tricks, etc. What are "best practices" in these situations?  Areas where you may not have been trained, but are still important.  We can never be trained in everything we do in education.

I feel they are individualized.  Your "best practices" may not be mine. I may not be an outgoing over the top actor in front of my class.  I may not be the most creative lesson planner.  I may struggle with technology. I may think outside the box continuously.  What are my "best practices"?

In these instances I believe "best practices" are individualized and repeatedly improved with coaching, conversations, collaboration, trial and error.  When you have never tried something before and you can find very little to go on as a guide, what are the "best practices"?  My opinion is that "best practices" are necessary at times, but growth in development as a lesson planner and teacher occur outside of "best practices".

They occur in "new practices" that become "best practices" after practice.  Sorry Allen Iverson, practice is important.  It just may not always be your best, which is okay if you are getting better.

So next time someone says to you "best practices" ask them what they mean?  Do you mean a program or that other 70%, because there is a difference in how we practice.  

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