6 common “confusions” that inhibit the continuous improvement of teaching and learning

Dennis Sparks

1. Confusing good intentions with a strategy.

2. Confusing a goal with a plan.

3. Confusing activity with accomplishment.

4. Confusing professional development with professional learning.

5. Confusing teamwork with any group activity.

6. Confusing management with leadership.

Taken together, these “confusions”  dissipate energy and help preserve the status quo.

Fortunately, principals and teacher leaders can turn confusion into clarity through professional study and dialogue.

That clarity can include meaningful, stretching goals that guide and fuel robust plans through which seemingly impossible goals can be achieved.

Students, of course, will be the primary beneficiaries of educators’ clarity.

What other “confusions” would you add to my list?

7 Responses to “6 common “confusions” that inhibit the continuous improvement of teaching and learning”


  1. 1 Mike Phillips October 10, 2013 at 5:52 am

    Steven Katz book, Intentional Interruption, talks about “barriers” to professional learning and how instructional leaders can “intentional interrupt” these barriers.

    He explains in his writing how teachers confuse (and pick) a well known strategy over another strategy that may have more purpose and fit better, thus better addressing the needs of each student.

  2. 3 cm9384Carol October 10, 2013 at 7:28 am

    I believe most teachers and leaders clearly define strategic goals, objectives and expectations-through district and building school improvement plans….the follow up you refer to as “professional study and dialogue”.

  3. 4 Andy DeFreece October 10, 2013 at 7:40 am

    Great list Dennis! I”d suggest that “confusing rhetoric with realization of implementation” inhibits the continuous improvement of teaching as well.

  4. 5 Sara Trotter October 10, 2013 at 7:52 am

    I love your blog, Dennis! Thanks!
    I think educators often confuse ‘differentiation’ with ‘student engagement’ and then, understanding the different levels of engagement (Authentic Engagement, Ritual Engagement, Passive Compliance, Retreatism,Rebellion).
    Cheers!

  5. 6 Vanessa Stuart October 12, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Confusing strong school culture with something that “just happens” rather than something that is intentional and planned.


  1. 1 World Class Rhetoric Trackback on December 1, 2013 at 4:24 am

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