Steve Heisler

Teacher Author Speaker


"Every single child wants to be successful. The problem is, if they can't be successful at being successful, they'll be successful at screwing up. Our job as educators is to change the latter to the former."    

- from the The Missing Link by Steve Heisler

All Teachers Will Be Required to Take 17,000 Hours of Professional Development in Instruction (the good news is that they have already taken them!)

I've said for years to young teachers that the one subject they have studied more than anything else is teaching. A recent post I read noted that number somewhere around 17,000 hours. I neither want to nor will bother to validate that number and instead just say it sounds about right to me.

However the context in which this writer posited these figures he noted that since most math teaching is 'bad,' math teachers drawing on such experiences will likely be equally bad.


Well, ok, lets say I watch somebody inattentively cross a busy New York street while texting. Let's also say that as a result of this inattention that person winds up with, as MIchael V. Gazzo might describe it, an "ass full of taxicab bumpers." Let's further say that without thought I decide to do exactly the same thing. What can I logically construe from such an observation?

 If it is that the same thing will not happen to me, I'm might well be in my way to a rude awakening, a very rude awakening. Similarly, if I was poorly taught and I just thoughtlessly teach the way I was taught, I might likewise also be in for a rude awakening, assuming I am awake enough to recognize said awakening when it arrives.

Each of us has billions of experiences from which we are free to learn or not learn. This is no less true about of our 17,000 hours of instructional development that we are all, apparently, offered as a bonus for all the years we are in schools learning other stuff.

Reflective teachers passionate about being outstanding teachers will take all of their experiences and, applying thoughtful reflection, select those actions which had positive impact. Or they will test out an action that may not have worked just as an idea. In any case a thoughtful, reflective teacher will subject each and every professional action to meaningful scrutiny and decide if it delivered the necessary impact, or if it did not. The point is that, good or bad, experience is a teacher and once taught, why waste the experience?

The more important question to ask is if you are supervising a teacher who gives that little attention to his or her profession, why is that person still teaching in your school?