Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Essential Efforts to Teaching Well

What does it mean to teach well? What do you do?

First, it is essential to know your learners well. Understand who they are, what they love to do, and what they want out of life. There are multiple ways to do find this out including conversation, collaborative projects, surveys, letter writing, class meetings and more.

Next, it's essential to know what it is you are tasked to teach, and then make that learning meaningful, accessible, and memorable. There are countless ways to design meaningful, memorable, accessible learning experiences with and for students.

After that comes assessment--how is the child doing with the learning tasks? Can he/she independently apply the learning in meaningful ways? The assessment should lead to needed next steps which may include revision, re-teaching, new learning, and/or meaningful share.

To teach well means that students are mostly active learners who are developing knowledge in meaningful ways on their own and with others--they are doing the note taking, questioning, navigation, decision making, and presentation--it is their targeted activity that leads to positive learning.

To foster this good learning, teachers can effectively use questions such as these:
  • Tell me what it is that you are learning here?
  • How do you find the appropriate materials, website, resources to learn this material?
  • What questions do you have about this learning?
  • What helps you to learn this best?
  • How can I help you?
  • What online and offline tools can you use to help you master this material?
  • Can you teach others this idea, knowledge, or concept?
  • Why do you think you are learning this--why is this important to you and your world today and tomorrow?
So at all times, educators need to be thinking about how they can let the child lead his/her learning in meaningful, productive, and memorable ways--how can students be in charge, and how can the educator be an "intelligent assistant" in this regard?

If you teach a child to learn, the child learns for their whole life, but if you give the child the answer or do the work, they only learn for the moment. Teaching children to learn is our essential job now as educators, and we have to help one another reach that goal in meaningful, targeted, and child-centered ways. This is a fundamental switch of priorities from content to learning-to-learn for many educators, and demands conversation in order to modernize education in ways that matter.