I’ve been thinking lately about our need to capture everything we see in both our lives and while on holidays on camera. Of course, then we immediately post these photos to social media, instantly documenting our experiences in a personal museum, for others to peruse.
Are we that obsessed with capturing the moment that we forget to actually experience it? While we didn’t all grow up in the instant sharing generation, most of us now have completely ‘adapted’ and feel like we will miss something later, if we don’t capture it now.
Our students, however, have completely grown up in this universe. I remember a time not so long ago where I went through a phase where I had to have all my photos (much less numerous per time period than now!) immaculately organised, and each one of them recorded via social media. Now, I tend to upload ‘as I go’ and am much more likely to use a mobile device to do so, however I am finding I’m only uploading ‘highlights’ of the collection, so to speak.
This has made me think about the impact on my students and for my classroom. If our students have grown up in a world where capturing each and every moment is seen as the norm, they are much less likely to stop and experience a moment for what it’s worth and may go through life with only a superficial view and superficial knowledge of their experiences.
Perhaps we should be taking the time in our classrooms to reflect on the value of reflection!
It’s worth thinking about.
Well here I am in my second term of teaching and while it hasn’t always been easy (who am I kidding – it has sometimes been very difficult!) I have recently taken some time to reflect on just how much I love my job.
Reason #1: all the beyond wonderful students that you meet. There are just so many students who just blow you away with their attitude and maturity. Notice I don’t say with their academic capability – there are plenty of those too but the ones that really astonish me and make teaching beyond worthwhile are the ones who are the truly fabulous human beings.
Reason #2: All the new stuff I am learning. Every day I learn something new, even though I might not realise at the time. I was so astonished and excited to realise last week that I have improved since last term. This excites me. It isn’t a massive improvement and I still have a long way to go by any means but it’s good to know that progress is being made, and I love that I have a job that is all about personal growth as well as helping others towards their own personal growth. And I think that’s why teachers stay teaching for so long (in many cases anyway!) – they enjoy making and seeing progress. It’s not just a case of mastering a single skill or set of skills and that’s you’re entire job – it’s new and challenging and fabulous every day.
Reason #3: The fabulous colleagues and other professionals you meet. There isn’t a single person I have met that I haven’t learned something from. Some are truly outstanding and inspiring – from the colleagues that are exemplary teachers and who exhibit the best classroom management techniques, the colleages that come up with the fabulous and inspiring lesson plans and ideas, the colleagues that make learning fun, and the ones that somehow find time in their busy life to make a chocolate cheesecake. AND share it. Yummo.
I am very lucky to have a neighbour with years of teaching experience, and also resources that he is willing to share. Anyway so he said something about classroom management that I wanted to share with you all:
If you know your subject matter well, your classroom management skills will improve.
This is encouraging.
I have decided just to focus on trying to improve my classroom management skills on a day to day basis, and even if they improve incrementally, I’m happy with that. And my particular focus for this year is going to be creating lessons that are so engaging, that the students are so busy learning that they forget to display inappropriate behaviours.
Wishful thinking? Maybe. But I can only try!
With school starting up again soon, I have started to think about what exactly I want for my students in the new school year. What do I want them to get from their schooling experience? And what do I want my classroom to look like – me talking and doing all the work, or them actually engaged and making an effort in the learning process?
The issue of needing students to become independent learners was particularly prevalent in my second placement, where I was teaching a class of Year 7 students. Some of the girls were having trouble understanding the concept, and hence, working out the answer to the problem. So their solution was to bug the teacher for the answer. I tried explaining it to them as best I could, but as I was feeling under pressure to attend to 25 students at once as well as to cover the unit, I *may have* cut corners in my explanation. Their response? ‘Miss, you’re not supposed to tell us the answer!’
What did I learn from that experience? Firstly, students want to learn. Providing their basic needs have been met, they actually come to school engaged and motivated, expecting to learn. We cannot crush that. And secondly, in order not to crush their natural enthusiasm for learning, we have to engage them from the beginning. This means that from Day 1 of Year 7, students must be encouraged to find answers for themselves, and perhaps more importantly, think of new questions.
Imagine if your students still couldn’t think for themselves by the time they reach Year 12? How would they survive in the real world?
It might take a little extra effort and planning at the beginning, but planning lessons that encourage students to be independent learners and thinkers is easier and better for both you and your students in the long run.
In traditional education settings, we focus on answers. But what we probably should focus on is how a student behaves when they don’t know the answer.
If the question is ambiguous, the clarity needs to be in the answer.
I was listening to ABC Classic FM in the car yesterday, and there was a piece that was really bugging me, because I couldn’t for the life of me find the beat! Every time I thought I had it, I knew immediately I was wrong. By the time the piece was over I had worked it out though (with much concentration and effort!) – it was in 15/8! Fifteen quavers to a bar!
That made me realise that now I know how my students who struggle with rhythm and aural skills feel! So I then spent some time reflecting on how I would help explain to these students how to identify a time signature in an unknown piece of music, as well as what strategies I would provide to them.
Most teachers think they know their subject. I know I did. But what I have discovered during my prac placements is that I have great potential to be able to explain my subject effectively, but just because I know something to be true doesn’t mean I can explain it to each of my students (who might all need different information in order to glean their own understanding) or provide pertinent examples to them at the drop of a hat.
So, this summer will be spent revising and collecting a wide variety of examples, with the aim of being well prepared for the new year.
One final thought – I have also realised that many students know, accept and expect that their teachers know how to teach – it is the subject matter knowledge that they sometimes doubt that their teacher(s) have. There are various reasons for this, including outside tuition in specialist areas like music, however we are doing our students are disservice if our ability to convey our knowledge effectively is not up to scratch.