HOW TEACHING HAPPENS IN MY CLASS
I’ve been teaching for twelve years at an alternative school, working with students who are at risk. Ever heard that old saying, “Those who can’t, teach”? Well before teaching, I was a Social Worker, a Newspaper Journalist, an Internet Business Consultant, Web Designer, eMarketer and Published Author. Now, I teach. I love teaching. I love bringing all my skills from life to the classroom. And I love being challenged by the changes in society and technology that encourage me to step it up in the classroom, each year.
But I also love all the new skills teaching has given me. If you are in a situation where you are delivering lessons because of COVID-19, here are a few insights on how I deliver learning that might make your journey easier.
Let's start with some universal tips.
Tip #1: Always remember what you are teaching. Do you want them to learn how to reflect on their cooking? Then you aren't marking spelling in their written reflections. You are marking their ability to reflect on their cooking. This is an important tip to keep in mind.
Tip #2: Time is only important in timed assignments. Are you marking their ability to manage a project within a set time period? If you are not, then you should not limit their time in completing the assignment. As long as your child/ student is working at a steady pace for them (I repeat - their steady pace) then you are waiting for the final result which will be their best effort. Don't add time to an assignment just "because". Many students don't perform well under pressure and by adding a timer, you're limiting their ability to show what they can do.
Tip #3: Nothing is more important than your relationship with your child. Don't keep teaching if you are getting frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, or even more frustrated ;). You can put yourself on a time out. You can take the assignment and hold it in the air and crumple it up, then toss it in the garbage can and move on. You can gather up your loved ones and go outside for some fun. Don't sacrifice your relationship for education.
Tip #4: Don't compare your child's progress to anyone else's. Your child will learn at their pace and that is okay. Public education paces children together because it has to. Teachers can only do so much, and we have to categorize children somehow - so we do it by age. At least, that's how we've done it in the past 100 years or so. But, that education structure was designed to offer the best learning to the largest numbers of people. If you're at home with your little one, take your time, move forward when your child is ready, for faster or slower, trust yourself to be the judge.
Tip #5: There is no "right" way. Teach your child in a way that is conducive to them learning and being happy. The experience counts.
Interested in this education stuff? Read on to learn how it's done in my classroom.
How Teaching Happens in my Classroom
The Golden Rule of the Order of 3's for ASSESSMENT/MARKINGThe “Order of 3's” refers to how many chances a student should get to practice knowledge or skills before being marked. Students generally experience learning in this order:
- Learn it / Experience it (teacher feedback/diagnostic of learning)
- Apply it / Do it / Deconstruct it / Explain it (teacher feedback for improved skills)
- Create it / Innovate something new with skills learned / Argue it / Present it / Do or / Deconstruct another it (final marks on unit)
Generally, student marks for the report card come from step 3, AKA the third chance a student receives in which he/she can show learning.
In secondary school, classroom learning is usually broken down into units - chapters or packages of learning on a topic, theme, skill, text, idea, etc. A course can have 4 - 10 units.
How a Unit is Born
See the "A figure of speech" graphic of the man with the crow on his head? I saw it on Facebook and decided I would turn it into an English lesson on idioms.
LEARNING GOAL: students will be able to understand and use an idiom in a text.
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “When will my child ever need to use idioms?”
Well, the figure of speech (idiom) is part of the English curriculum and it is the focus. The skills and knowledge applicable to life that will be practiced while achieving this learning goal will include:
- · Using critical and creative thinking skills
- · collaboration skills
- · presentation skills
- · reading
- · drawing
- · writing
- · skills
- · learning skills (learn it, apply it, create it)
- · communication skills
- · tech production skills
The Lessons in the Order of 3'sHere are the learning lessons students would need to complete in order to achieve this learning goal. I would deliver these lessons in this order to ensure proper learning. If a student has most of this learning already, I would allow them to move ahead and work quietly on the next section to avoid boredom if that decision was right for that student.
Engagement Reading or Enhanced ExtensionsEngagement is always the key to a successful Unit. Sometimes a teacher can engage with a question, sometimes with an answer, sometimes with a video or a reading. The students have to be hooked before their brains will absorb. For this unit, I would start with this picture and do a visual reading, or perhaps the following reading I scooped off Facebook. The article could also be used to keep those advanced students busy and extending their learning while waiting for students who take a little longer.
But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't even afford to buy a pot; they "didn't have a pot to piss in" & were the lowest of the low.
Roll Out the Learning
1. Learn it
2. Practice it
My Teaching Style
· I engage students in the topic with "what if's?", humour, and contests or reading (see example below).
· In the order shown by the images, I chunk knowledge and skills in learning steps, building upon each previous step, introducing and consolidating each step.
· I allow students to work individually sometimes and in groups at other times.
· I provide timelines for each step, but also allow students the time they need and engage those who finish early with enhanced learning or student/teacher conferences for improvement.
· I get to know my students and their personal interests and incorporate those interests into the unit learning.
· I deliver and accept knowledge and skills through different learning styles/intelligence (visual, verbal, creative, written, performance/Kinesthetic etc.)
· I expand each lesson with class discussions drawing on students' critical thinking.
· I make learning a game whenever possible (and I teach grades 9-12).
· I provide all supplies needed, no student is shame or disadvantaged because they don't have learning materials.
· I use intuition to read the students and when they are getting bored or restless, I shake it up, step it up, throw it out, or flip it.
· I encourage competition and movement and support those who need boosts to compete.
The Summative Marking
So, there you have it. A life in the times of a classroom teacher in creating one unit.
If you're teaching your little ones, just enjoy it. Don't feel you have to meet any standards that are onerous. Just build on your relationship while you build on their knowledge and skills. Do things you enjoy. Let those connections flow. Let the child lead you. Feel blessed for the time together. And know when to toss out that assignment and take a break.