The Definition of Excellent Teaching

Several years ago a group of educators formed a committee and worked on a document that became known as the DET. This acronym is Gilman’s Definition of Excellent Teaching. Over the years, it has been a defining outline of what each teacher strives for in their daily teaching of the boys. Included in the list of priorities for good teaching is teaching methods and instruction, relationship with students, and professional expectations. Teachers regularly reflect on these categories and look for strengths and areas for growth. This year, the administration will be reviewing current methods of teacher evaluation and revisiting aspects of the DET. As an institution, we recognize the value in supporting teacher growth through the evaluation process and continue to encourage ongoing professional learning.

As we transition into a newly revised evaluation plan, we have asked teachers to take this year and reflect on aspects of their own teaching by observing good teaching in others. Everyone was tasked with looking for three ways that they could observe teachers developing their craft in the classroom. It might be an educator across the hall or a room full of students at another institution that offers inspiration and ideas. Roland Park, Boys Latin, and Bryn Mawr have all hosted teachers from lower school this fall. The idea is that we are all better through our collective knowledge as educators. Teachers have come back from their experiences enriched and excited to try some novel ideas of their own.

I was fortunate enough to visit a school outside of Boston for the day after meeting many of their teachers at a workshop in Detroit over the summer. They provided more inspiration for our MakerSpace, MakerLab, and STEM program through examples of cross-curricular design projects happening throughout their lower school. Their space is known as the “Eureka Lab” and it contains many of the elements of our design and woodshop combined with lower school and middle school innovation areas. This winter a group of teachers who attended the summer workshop will be working together to develop a one page philosophy statement related to “maker” at Gilman K-12.

A yearly reminder of excellence in teaching is our annual winter concert. Mrs. McElroy and Mrs. Cyman, along with our language and art teachers, pulled off another amazing show this week. The variety of arts that are showcased, the assortment of music chosen, and the mastery of arranging so many voices to sing in unison or harmony is inspiring in itself. Walking into a music class, art class, or foreign language class on any given day will give a glimpse into good teaching technique and classroom management. The annual show is a perfect showcase for many months of lessons.

I have been struck several times this school year by the adoration of parents who attend these events. Watching from across the aisle yesterday, or from the back of the room at a recent second grade play, I was heartened to see so many proud and appreciative parents. Many are behind the quintessential camera phone poised to take in every line or action. School performances are treasured moments of parenthood, and I am reminded of my own experiences as a parent each time! I hope everyone who had to miss the delayed concert yesterday was able to watch it live or on the recording. Pictured below are some shots from today’s lobby performance (which does not include adoring parents) – rather adoring teachers enjoying a sing-a-long with their students on “pajama day”. Memories are made and treasured each year! Have a wonderful winter break!

Teachers rehearsing for our own rendition of “The 12 Days of Christmas”!

I hope that my communication with you each week encourages “talking points” to inspire conversation with your son or sons. Here are some “talking points” based on recent school events.

  • If you are in Kindergarten- What art and pictures are you bringing home today in your school bag? Which are you most proud of?
  • If you are in Prep-One- When you go outside for recess and snack, why does everyone sit on the scorekeeper’s structure on the ball field? What do you pretend that it is? Where is Snickers spending the holiday?
  • If you are in First Grade- What ideas are you brainstorming for your “mitten story”?
  • If you are in Second Grade- Who did you wrap presents for today? How was yours decorated?
  • If you are in Third Grade- What did you make for your “little buddy” as a holiday gift? How did you enjoy time together at the cookie decorating party? How did your science test go?
  • If you are in Fourth Grade- How was your visit to Bryn Mawr last week? Are you enjoying your book for the book club with the girls? How did you do on your big science test?
  • If you are in Fifth Grade- Did your “little buddy” enjoy his holiday gift? How did you do on the math fractions test this week?




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