I said give IT up not give up! What is “it”?
“It” is CONTROL.
I have an awesome student teacher right now and this morning we had a very stimulating discussion about the philosophy of education. Now I remember back when I was in my college ed classes and preparing for going out into the field, one of the things everyone tells you is that when you go for interviews they will ask you about your philosophy of education. Well, the reality is that I didn’t always get asked that but occasionally a principal would ask. I couldn’t even tell you today what I answered but I am sure it was much different than if I were asked today.
The number one thing affecting student learning is this: Students have to own their own learning. It is not about teacher centered classrooms. It is about helping students discover and uncover. I know I have written about this before but it really is the key!
The teacher is not the “giver of all knowledge” and students are obviously not always grateful for all the wonderful knowledge we can impart!
It isn’t a hard thing to do either. Mostly, it’s about how you phrase things. “Why did you think that?” “How did you find that?” “Tell me why?” “What do you see that you wonder about ?” or “What don’t you understand?”
This week I video taped a student teacher in another classroom for her capstone project. This lady has a PhD in chemical engineering and is going back to school to become a 2nd grade teacher! Good for her, first of all, but what I observed confirmed two things: 1) Age has nothing to do with being ready to teach or not ( I have had student teachers much younger who were better at “reading” a student’s engagement) and 2) The degree of education doesn’t ensure good teaching either.
The lesson plan for the class was very detailed and sequential and all the other things I am sure a supervisor would be looking for. The problem was the delivery and attitude. After only 8-10 minutes she had talked non-stop to the point the students’ eyes were glazed over and most had tuned out. I would say 80% of what she was saying was restating directions over and over again. Out of the hour long lesson the students were only actively doing anything for less than 10 minutes. How much do you suppose they learned or remembered?
So, GIVE IT UP! Give up the control, give up the idea that you, the teacher, have all the knowledge. You don’t know everything and guess what? The students will be fine with that. Give students a gift. Even for adults, it is much more fun to unwrap the gift, letting the anticipation build with each layer of wrapping paper, tape and packing peanuts. Let students open the gift of knowledge themselves. Don’t be the teacher that just hands them the gift already unwrapped and out of the box.
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