Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Learning: Embrace!

New learning can be frightening especially when it's in your challenge area.  It's easy to point a finger at colleagues when they fear an area of new learning, but it's not so easy to recognize your own area of frightening new learning.  For me, it's the microsphere of instruction--the details related to good pedagogy. I can easily grasp the big picture, the new tech and multi-modal learning, but when it comes to the finer points, that's when I cower.

Hence, when our school system adopted the coaching model, I must say it fueled a waterfall of angst:  What will coaches have to say when they watch me teach and notice all the little details that I miss when it comes to instruction?  I can't be it all?  I know where my weaknesses are?  Do I have the time to finesse every single aspect of my teaching?  

Now, as the coach and I move down the coaching relationship road, I am embracing it step-by-step.  I know it's best for students if we work collaboratively, and I know there's always something to learn.  Hence, I'm slowly learning to navigate this new instructional path.

Today was yet another turning point in the journey.  The coach taught the lesson.  I asked him to teach after watching his last lesson and noticing many, many details of instruction that he implemented to better
students' access and learning.  Again today I noticed more details. Details that I want to better implement to develop my instructional repertoire.

The details of today's instruction included the following:
  • Making Learning Safe: Friendly language and simple examples welcome students into the lesson.
  • Explicit Instruction: Prior knowledge is not assumed.
  • Wait Time:  Students are given the time to think and ponder.
  • Specific Compliments: Model accurate language, strategy, behavior by pointing it out.
  • Humor: Makes the lesson enjoyable.
  • Setting Goals: Students are aware of where the lesson is going and what's expected.
  • Storytelling: Makes the lesson "sticky" by adding an emotional, experiential connection.
  • Blind Vote: Close your eyes, thumbs up if you understand, to the side if you kind-of understand and down if you don't understand.
  • Mapping the Path:  Creating a strategy path with students to complete the task.
I have said it before and I'll say it many times again, teaching is an endless path of discovery and understanding.  No teacher ever reaches the point of all-knowing in education--it's an endless evolution of growth and development to best serve students.  The best reaction is to embrace a path of discovery and evolution that's part of your overall professional work.  As my father always says, "A little for today and a little for tomorrow."