The mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimension – Ralph Waldo Emmerson
I have been grinding the glacier over some issues around my instructional practices. I left a private school system for the public system because I felt like I was teaching in a box. A box that was becoming smaller and tighter each year. I was the outfielder standing alone in left field waiting for someone to throw a new ball my way: differentiated lessons, co-operative learning, professional dialogue, anything. I stood alone until I finally quit the game. Now I feel like I’m miles behind everyone.
I’ve discovered I can stop fighting with my big picture learning style, honour it and teach with it. I can provide my students with the “big picture” of the lesson, from objectives to work/project examples and return to it at the end of the lesson. Did you meet the objective? This was a very huge realization for me as I’ve fought against my own learning style since I started teaching. It always seemed that I figured out how to do something right or better after I finished doing it. How embarrassing to “get it” in June instead of September!
I have been working on solidifying some ideas around relinquishing control of the information and letting the students own it, of relinquishing my teacher power to control the discussions and/or avoid uneasy topics or questions and to replace this with language of least power. It’s time to roll with the students. But I still have to do this within a guided framework as I’m not in complete agreement with the constructivist theories of education.
My research groups do not need to work on a project. They need to work on the skills needed to do a research project. I do not need to feel pressured into producing some elaborate end result with them, we need to work on the process in a manner that allows them to own their own learning and for me to own my teaching.
I have not refined these new ideas yet, but that will come with the process.
What drives your instructional practice?