Foreword to Wendy Ward Hoffer’s Phenomenal Teaching
By John Hattie
I have visited classrooms with Wendy where these Phenomenal Teaching ideas are being implemented. The success of these approaches was visible in the language of the students who welcomed the struggle of thinking, saw learning as hard work, knew the power and had the skills of collaboration, and demonstrated great respect in being critical evaluators of their own and others’ ideas. Ashley, one lab host teacher we observed, “engineered” these things to happen; it was not by accident or osmosis. She did not dominate the learning, and she taught the skills that allowed students to become their own teachers.
This book captures the methods, the thrill, the skill, and the evaluation of this form of teaching. This work is based on identifying where there is excellence, and then scaling this up. Too often, we look for failure and remediate—here, we are beginning with assets and growing from there.
I find it fascinating that when we ask adults about who their best teachers were and why, they tend to report two major attributes: great teachers turn students on to their passion, and great teachers see strengths and successes in students that the learners had not previously seen in themselves. These attributes can be developed through the methods and messages described in these chapters. For students, this leads to a sense of wonder, of excitement, of seeing errors as opportunities for learning, of making class an inviting place where they want to be.
The analogy of a rope is used to identify the six key strands of the Public Education & Business Coalition Teaching Framework. We need to recall that the strength of the rope is not in the strength of any or all of the strands, but in the overlapping of the many strands. Using these approaches together, we can teach students strategies for learning, the pleasure of discovering ideas, the skills for relating these ideas, and the delight in transferring their learning to new situations—the actions of agency and understanding.
Given my penchant for wanting evidence of impact, and that I have seen the impact of the strands woven throughout this book in action, this is a phenomenal book. Enjoy.
Excerpted from Phenomenal Teaching. Wendy Ward Hoffer is PEBC’s Senior Director of Content Development and Publications. Attend a PEBC Institute and learn how Phenomenal Teaching applies in your content area