|Tremble world, I am reborn!
||[Jan. 13th, 2006|02:35 pm]
Invertebrate with dreams of stardom
|[||In my ears
|||||Radiohead - Paranoid Android||]|
When I am king, you will be the first against the wall
With your opinion, which is of no consequence at all
- Radiohead, "Paranoid Android"
One of the finest ways of learning something is to teach it. I have spent the last week racking my brain trying to decide what it would be important to teach to teachers, as my assistanceship has progressed from simply being the field observer on student teachers to doing that AND teaching them all I know.
Problem is, I have never taught anything other than college students. I do have fairly hefty college teaching experience (6.5 years), so I do consider myself capable of teaching, but there are simply things I don't know how to do, like, say, teach physics to 7th graders. So I'm learning through osmosis, copious reading, and, frankly, by sheer accident.
Despite any nervousness on my part, I am a fairly wily teacher, and I've always been at my best provoking metacognition and dysequilibium. In laymens terms, I baffle students with a paradox and force them to rethink their assumptions. I'm very spoiled by working with college students, who can awaken to this relatively quickly, after 12 years of state-mandated mental slumber in standardized classes; they're simply ready for any excuse to rebel against further programming, and I allow no such opportunity to pass by unpunished.
I got in a few nice "gotchas" yesterday. I started class with my two student teachers, by doing nothing more than being social with them. We know each other from last semester's work, so small talk was easy enough to do. What I had done, however, was create on the board an objectives list of what we would accomplish. I had also written "Please fill out your index card" with instructions as to what was to go on them, and left index cards prominently in their first day handout packets. At some annointed time, D. took the initiative to fill in the card, and R. followed suit seconds afterwards. After a minute or so, they were done and looked up at me.
"Why did you do that?" I asked. I got a few mixed answers, that since I had written on the board, there were tasks to do, that from where I was sitting in relation to the students I was the teacher, that I was the first in the room. All of these I replied to fairly neutrally, saying that yes, I had gotten there first, but I didn't indicate where students should sit, and I didn't do anything at all since people had entered. Similarly, R and I had a huge spray of papers around us, so there were no obvious trappings as to who actually bore responsibility.
"Because it was on the board," D replied.
"I did it because I saw D doing it, R admitted.
"Ok, so you looked for normative classroom behavior. D looked around for cues from the classroom for what to do. But I didn't do anything yet. What made me in charge to give you instructions?"
"So there was information available to you all as you came into the classroom. There's also norms to classrooms, things that you're trained to look for. I didn't have to do anything, really, because what I created gave you enough information to figure out what was going on," I said, with a lot of growing confidence -- it's been a few years since I've taught, but it's a muscle resistant to disuse. I wrapped up the "hook" activity by explaining to my students that I had not even introduced myself yet. "One of my tricks that I've been opening class with for a number of years is this:"
I wrote on the board "You are the most important person in this class."
"Why would I say that?"We had a great discussion on lesson planning that followed, including ripping a pre-generated concept mapping activity I gleaned off of the web a new one. When, at the end of class I admitted that I had violated my own description of the importance of review, both R and D agreed that we had done a thorough job on the topic. I was happy enough with that; if they say they've learned, that's good enough for me.
"Because," D said, who is always the first to respond, "we're the students, and it's our job to learn."
"R, your thoughts?"
"It puts the power in the students."
"Exactly. There's no way I can know that you're learning. I can assess products of learning, but there's no way I can get inside of you and tell for sure."
Today, I have been captain productive. Nothing like a little messing with minds to spark a flurry of activity.