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Monday, December 12, 2016

What I Know About Teaching

Challenged to teach in a way that doesn't make sense to me called me to think about what I know about teaching and learning. Related to the challenge, here are a few learning points I understand. Please correct me if you think I am wrong:
  • Learning profits from a just-right challenge. For example you can't leap from learning your addition facts to solving multistep division problems in short time. It's a step-by-step process where one foundation skill builds upon another. Yes, you may leap during this learning path, but it's unlikely you'll leap if you don't have a strong foundation of skill, concept, and knowledge.
  • Learning profits from positivity. When the challenge is too great, children give up. A positive learning environment is created when there's just right challenge, good coaching, and meaningful learning endeavor.
  • Learners learn in diverse ways. Yes there are some common trends to learning, but in general all learners are unique and learners who struggle present the most unique needs and profiles--there's often complexity that needs to be understood and unearthed to teach struggling learners well.
  • Learning depends on relationship. Knowing and caring well for your learners translates into good learning.
  • Learning depends on valuable and meaningful learning experiences--what we teach and how we teach it matters.
  • Learning is not a march. Instead learning is a dance. It takes on its own shape and motion depending on the learners' needs, interests, and accessibility to learning tools and support.
All children are capable of learning. How we teach those students matters, and this is not a simple science. It's both an art and science that depends on knowing students well and responding to their needs, interests, passions, and challenges.

When the teacher has little say in the curriculum or teaching that's going on, learning is diminished as learning is not a robotic act, but instead a personal, intimate, and thoughtful action.

After teaching for 31 years I do know a bit about teaching. I am open to learning more too as I don't know it all. It's difficult to have what you know be challenged, but it does call you to think deeply about what you know to be true and good with regard to teaching children well.