Saturday, October 22, 2011

"This" or "That" in Education

After more than twenty years of classroom teaching, trying new strategies and reflecting on pedagogy, I have shaped my teaching philosophy from "This" to "That".  Let me use this funny commercial to introduce the concept.

We all have different ways to learn lessons and adjust our direction in teaching.  Trial and error, watching others, reading books and talking to  colleagues are just some of the various methods.  Regardless of the method of learning, the result can be very powerful and forever change the way we approach assessment, pastoral care, dealing with parents, curriculum and instruction.  Here is my list of ways I have grown over my many years of teaching from "This" to "That":

“This”…(But, now I  ..)
“That” (I used to….)
Now, I allow them to come in at lunch so I can give them the opportunity to complete the work and at the same time I find out how I can help them with meeting deadlines.
I used to take late marks off student assessments when they didn’t hand them in on time.

Now, I give lots of formative assessments, allow students to redo work and learn from their mistakes and I give fewer quizzes and tests.  I never give “pop” or surprise quizzes.

I used to believe that my class would be more rigorous if I administered more summative assessments in the form of “pop" quizzes, regular quizzes and tests.
Now, I differentiate many of my lessons and one of my “stations” involves students working with me, one-on-one, to discuss their portfolio.

I used to work on marking or planning while students were working individually on a quiz, test, project or assignment.
Now, I ensure students complete all work assigned to ensure we are getting a chance to formatively assess their learning progress.  I never assign a zero.
I used to give students a “0” if they failed to complete an assignment.

Now, I stand at more doorway to greet students with a smile and sometimes a joke and I deal with latecomers with kindness and respect (waiting for a private moment to discuss what happened).

I used to lock my door when the bell rang and if a student arrived late I would make them wait in the hallway until I was able to deal with their tardiness.
Now, I have taken care to ensure we discuss the assessment scheme (or rubric) for all assignments before students. And, I go over a few samples as exemplars (high, low, medium) so students have a chance to use the rubric before they begin.
I used to give projects and assignments with what I thought was a clear assessment scheme.

Now, I incorporate experiential learning into my instructional design so kids can experience what we are learning in the community by booking trips to wetlands, pond studies, fire stations, ski hills, etc.
I used to feel most comfortable teaching in the classroom.

Now, I am sharing ideas and communicating with other educators around the world everyday through Twitter and Blogs.
 I used to believe that professional development only meant conferences and attending sessions.

Now, I never give notes, nor do I have students take notes.  I use a variety of different instructional strategies to ensure students have engaged and inquired to a point where their learning is “beyond notes”.
I used to believe that students needed to take notes in my class to ensure they had the content necessary to regurgitate back to me on assignments, quizzes and tests.

So, as hamsters in the video proclaim, "The choice is yours, you can deal with 'this' or you can deal with 'that'!"

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