“If we create a culture where every teacher believes they need to improve not because they aren’t good enough but because they can be even better, there’s not limit to what we can achieve.”
– Dylan Wiliam (quoted in Phillips )
“Phenomenal.” This is how education researcher John Hattie described Ashley Bromstrup’s teaching on his October 2016 visit to Denver. He observed Ashley facilitating her third graders as they wrestled to make sense of a complex math task. They discussed strategies, explained thinking, analyzed solutions, shared creative ideas using academic language, disagreed respectfully, and gave and received peer feedback nonstop for 90 minutes.
Ashley’s fine craft as a twenty-first-century educator was molded by years of personal effort and intensive professional development. Ashley now shares her expertise by serving as a lab host to visitors from around the country, who attend structured visits to her classroom to observe her and her students at work.
When we enter the classroom of a phenomenal teacher, we enter a world of wonder. We see learners hard at work, hear them speaking eloquently about their understanding, moving purposefully and respectfully; sometimes we have to look around to find the teacher, perhaps bent over a table chatting quietly with a group while the rest of the students manage themselves. It appears as magic. And yet writing guru Don Murray (1987) reminds us, “Writing isn’t magic, but then magic isn’t magic either. Magicians know their craft, and writers must also know their craft.” Similarly, magical teachers, who appear to cast spells over children and conjure excellence from raw material year after year, know exactly what they are doing. Phenomenal Teaching is a book about those teachers, the magical, phenomenal ones, and about you and how you can be among them.
The truth is, you and your students are already phenomenal. We are here to believe in and support you in bringing your potential into reality in your classroom every day. When we design learning experiences that honor thinking and invite creativity, wonderful and amazing results can’t help but blossom in our classrooms. Wherever you are now, no matter how many years of experience you do or don’t have, regardless of how optimistic or discouraged you may feel, this book is offered as a resource and a guide to invite your continuing reflection and growth.
In Phenomenal Teaching, we walk together step by step to consider the ways in which the complex craft of teaching can produce results for each and every learner. This is not a book of theories—it is based on the experiences of reflective, humble, striving exemplars who work hard in their classrooms every day to bring educational research to life in service of their best hopes for children. You will meet them, hear their thinking, reflect on your own, and find pages filled with ideas to try in your own classroom tomorrow.