What Can Teachers Learn From Chocolate Sea Salt Crostini?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnYxRF6IH7Y A. This was second most popular YouTube cooking video of 2010.

Let's say you are NOT planning to make this dish.

Can you still learn from it?

I did.

I learned something about...

*Olive oil *Sea salt *Cutting and toasting bread

...stuff that I can use for other stuff I make.

B. Now let's say you are a teacher.

You watch video of another teacher. But

You teach Grade K and the video is Grade 10 or You teach biology but the video is reading class or You teach in Atlanta but the video is from a school in San Francisco or Your students are mostly Hispanic but those in the video are mostly white or You teach in a charter school but the video is from a traditional public

Do you tend to tune out?

For many novice teachers, the answer is: yes.

C. An Idea

I spent Thursday and Friday at a conference organized by New Schools Venture Fund. Many heads of teacher prep programs, whether traditional or alternative, described this reaction as common.

Of course there's some merit to that "Ah, that won't help me, my situation is different" reaction. But we all agreed that a decent chunk of rookies would develop more quickly....if they were more open-minded to learning from "imperfectly matched videos," those that didn't mirror their exact classroom situation.

A modest proposal. Our little conference group (Kimberly, Jesse, Roxanne, Scott, Brent, Andie, and Lennay Kekua) came up with an idea for an "inoculation video." Something short, fun, and zippy, maybe 90 seconds. It'd be a tool any teacher educator could play before teaching with classroom video. The goal: "You can learn something valuable by watching this teacher, though we acknowledge her situation is almost certainly different from yours." Email me (or comment) if you have any thoughts on the creative side, or already know of something that fits the bill.

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Update: Reader RFC notes Seth Godin on same topic:

The search for the exact case study or the exact prescription is the work of the resistance, a clever way to stay safe, to protect yourself from your boss or your self-talk. If you wait for the perfect map before departing on your journey, you'll never have to leave.

It's also true, though, that you have never once had to solve a problem that is exactly different from what's gone down before. We'd like to romanticize our problems as unique, as the one and only perfectly difficult situation that is the result of a confluence of unrepeatable, unique causes.

Your problem is your problem, and it is like no other. But it's close enough to those that came before, close enough to the ones you've studied, that it probably pays to stop stalling and take the leap.