The Paradox of Exemplary Practice
Exemplary teaching is paradoxical. What is it like, in such a complex activity as teaching, to "get it right?" How can we learn from study of theory and practice, from observation of others and reflection on our own teaching, to become and remain an exemplary teacher? For classroom practice to serve as an example of excellent teaching, what occurs must be observable and describable. Yet to identify all the elements of even a single teacher's skillful teaching, for even a single day, would be a mammoth undertaking. Moreover, once those elements were captured they would not represent in detail the classroom practice of other teachers, nor would they be replicated on subsequent days by the teacher originally observed. Excellence in teaching is not attained through training in a packaged set of behaviors. How can we learn? From study, observation, and reflection — and from the desire and energy to become and remain an exemplary teacher. The articles that we have chosen for our themed issue illustrate the blending of sound theory and good practice in different facets of language arts.