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Brenda's Blog

Learning from the Masters


When I was a student teacher, I made a regular trek to the lab school that was affiliated with the university I attended. Here, I sat with my peers in an observation gallery, overlooking a classroom of elementary school students in learning mode. On a weekly basis, the teachers in the lab school demonstrated excellent instructional practices for us wide-eyed, pre-service teachers, and then met with us afterwards in a conference room to elaborate on their lesson and to answer our many questions. I learned so much from those observation classes and hoped that one day I would become as accomplished as the teachers I watched from the observation gallery.

Times have changed. We no longer have to travel to a lab school to watch exemplary teachers in action. Thanks to Annenberg Media, those accomplished teachers can come to us via the Internet. Through such informative video series as Social Studies in Action: A Teaching Practices Library K-12 and Assessment in Math or Science: Whats the Point?, educators both new and experienced have an opportunity to watch teachers demonstrate effective teaching strategies that aim to make instructional practices more powerful. Filmed in classrooms across the country, the Annenberg PD series shows teachers at work, blending content and methodology in expert ways. Just like my days at the lab school, those free online videos include time when the teacher elaborates on the lesson and the thinking behind it. Thats the part I like the best -- getting a chance to hear how teachers take an idea and give it instructional wings.

The day I used the Celebrations of Light video with a class of preservice teachers, I was reminded just how fascinating it is to watch a master teacher in action. In this video, Eileen Mesmer, a K-1 teacher from Salem, Massachusetts, demonstrated a masterful lesson that led students through an exploration of the many ways in which winter holidays are celebrated and the commonalities among the various celebrations. Through this video, my students were not only introduced to the effective use of learning centers and a multi-discipline approach to teaching, they had a chance to pay heed to the many classroom management strategies Ms. Mesmer employed in the class. As my students said, she makes it look so easy!"

I couldnt help but wonder what would happen if experienced teachers made a regular practice of watching the Annenberg videos. What might we learn and what thinking might it initiate?

You can peruse the many professional development video resources made available by Annenberg Media at There is no cost to view them, however you will be required to register to access the online repository.

Author Name: Brenda Dyck
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Updated 06/02/2009