This blog is a place to ruminate on the problems of teaching. If I am thinking thoughtfully, my posts will hopefully raise more questions than answers. By problematizing teaching we reflect on those questions that are constantly behind, in front, and at center of everything we do in the classroom. Feel free to comment. I'd love to hear what other teachers are thinking about on these and other issues.
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Every once in a while
Every once in a while a student does something wonderful that sends my head spinning. Usually, this incident is out of character and even though you hope he'll do this precise thing he's just done some day, you're just not prepared for it when it happens. You hope that it will happen even if you are not the one to witness it. But you don't hold your breath because you might just be disappointed. When it does happen you suck in your breath and hold it there for a moment not believing your ears and your eyes. But, there it is. The moment you've been hoping for: a student takes the initiative to verbalize his appreciation for someone else without being prodded, enticed, encouraged, coached or any of the other things we do in the hopes that, if we do them often enough, they'll stick.
"What a great holiday gift," someone said. So true!
Sometimes, I plan too many teaching points for one lesson. For example, instead of focusing on one strategy that students need in order to become more proficient readers and writers, I try to teach several strategies at the same time.
Sometimes, I stretch out a teaching point beyond the 10- or 12-minute time limit I've given myself because I worry that my mini lesson wasn't enough or my students won't have understood what I intended to teach. So, sometimes, I beat the lesson to a pulp one too many times, or forget to have the kids practice the lesson before they go off to read or write. (Asking students to practice a lesson after you teach it, with you right there to observe and help guide students through the process, is very effective. Try not to skip this step!)
Here's an example of a mini lesson that lasted less than 10 minutes and resulted in better learning.
My students are in the second round of historical fiction book clubs. In a couple of weeks, we will start …
I want to write a book. A professional book. I think I have a lot to say. I think others could benefit from my experience. After all, I have been an educator for over 30 years.
But, what could I possibly say that hasn't been said before? What new knowledge could I add to the table? Who would even bother to read what I have to say?
These are questions borne of fear. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of not being able to complete such a daunting project. (At least, that's what it feels like to me right now.) Fear that I won't make time. Fear that I'll run out of time.
But, over the last couple of days, I've gotten some encouraging words of support from the Innovative Teaching Academy - #ITA17 Facebook group.
You can do it!Write for yourself. But the message that is propelling me forward is this one: It doesn't matter how many times something has been said...each time someone else says it, new people hear it...and that's where you make the d…