Saturday, November 10, 2007

Reflecting on practice

Reading Adult Education and Technology, I came across a list that the author had gotten from Vicki Davis at Cool Cat Teacher. There were 20 questions in the list, mostly relating to the use of technology by teachers and students. There was one question that I found especially interesting:
19. Have you changed anything significant about ALL of the courses you are teaching THIS YEAR?
I have always wondered how a teacher could just do the same thing over and over again every year. I had teachers like that in high school back in the dark ages, and I have seen teachers like that recently. But I don't get it. Even if you teach the same classes over and over again (Especially if you teach the same classes over and over again!), your students and your classes are never exactly the same from one year to the next. They have different needs and different interests. Why would a teacher not want to tap into those differences each year?

Another interesting question was this one:
14. Is more than 50% of your content relevant "to life?"
As an adult educator, I would like to think that everything that goes on in my class will help students get through life. I wonder, though, if that is true. It probably is true in some long-term existential way, but I am not so sure my students would agree if I were to ask them.

Teaching is not an easy job. If we are to do it well, we must consider the needs of our students, their interests and abilities, and their reasons for studying. We must reflect on our own practice and continue to learn ourselves so we can improve what it is we do and how we do it. The Internet offers teachers a chance to learn and to reflect. All we have to do is make a little effort.


Vicki Davis said...

Learning and reflecting is so important and your blog post here is a great example of effective learning and reflecting. Kudos to you for taking the time to reflect. Thanks for stopping by.

teachagiftedkid said...

Two very good questions to reflect upon. The older the student, the more likely they will be able to make the connection between what is useful in their real life with what goes on in the classroom.

A friend of mine who is a nurse makes it a practice to watch what the children watch so she has something to talk with them while she is giving them an IV. Teachers would be wise to do the same. At least it would be a glimpse into our student's culture.

I remember looking over the 'sea' of students my first year of teaching and realizing that I could never truly be a part of their culture, their discussions, their concerns. It should be humbling to every teacher and it should cause them to seek as much connection to the real world as possible in their curriculum planning.

John said...

I like the idea of change though over the last few years I had gotten a little gun shy about it. I work in a program in which the coordinator seem to discourage much change because it meant more work for her. As a consequence the classes she taught changed some, but the classes she did not teach but made the schedules for went through few changes on paper.

The result was that changes were made in the classroom but not on paper. I kept trying things, but I felt a little disloyal at times when I did something not on the schedule.

Now I am in that person's shoes as coordinator, and I hope to loosen up the reins which will be different for the teachers. We have been together as a team for several years now and used to the former approach.

I think the second point about part of their lives is a little harder to do at times because each year I am farther from their lives in some senses. In other ways, we are going through some of the same experiences.