After a relaxing school holiday, including a cruise, much time spent with family and friends, a few good books read and movies seen, I’m back to work. I’m hoping to post some thoughts and reflections on teaching each week and here’s whats been on my mind this week.
Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.
— Alain de Botton (@alaindebotton) January 27, 2013
This thought provoking tweet recently caught my eye and started me thinking about how I have changed and developed as a teacher over the last 13, (I can’t believe it’s that long!), years. There are certainly a few moments that I cringe over when I think about the way I went about things in the past, although at the time I had every confidence in what I was doing, and I’m sure that when I look back in another 13 years time I will have added to those moments.
There are two students I clearly recall who challenged and ultimately changed the way I went about things in the classroom.
The first child was quite bright. If ‘child one’ chose to they could do the work at a standard higher than many of their peers; however ‘child one’ rarely chose this option resulting in low grades and frustration for me. (‘student one’ didn’t seem to mind at all.) The second child (a different year and class) had some learning difficulties. There were times when ‘child two’ would try quite hard; however it was passive learning taking place – ‘child two’ was never really excited about what was happening in the classroom and I’m sure their motivation was to make sure I didn’t ring home about incomplete work. Initially, after conversing with the parents about their child’s experience in my classroom, I was quite sure I was doing everything I could to try help these students succeed; however on reflection I realised that perhaps there were some things I could alter.
I’m reluctant to say it is the job of a teacher to make learning fun; however I have no hesitation in saying that it is the job of a teacher to provide authentic learning experiences that engage students and provide the opportunity for active learning to take place. If these things are present in the classroom then they students will enjoy their learning and might even say they are having ‘fun.’
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking there’s nothing more we can do. It’s the student at fault not the teacher. It is also easy to resist change; however we should constantly be re-evaluating what we are doing and not afraid to alter our practice to better meet the needs of out students.
I hope that in the coming school year I can provide authentic learning experiences that engage all my students and I know to be successful in this I’m going to have to try things in the classroom I haven’t tried before.