Although it may seem hard to let go of old lesson plan books or materials, in order to keep ourselves fresh, no matter how many years we have been teaching a subject, we should always take the time to rethink the way we teach for this year's students. As we improve our practice, so too should our ideas for classroom learning grow and our plans should be updated accordingly.
Try to imagine the following student: He or she is extremely bright but doesn't necessarily represent well on paper because his/her level of commitment doesn't read in the test scores or transcript. You've taught this student once, maybe more and have developed a rapport with him/her. You know he/she will be successful in college, especially if it's a school of his/her choosing. But acceptance letters have been sent and you notice that that student is not looking as excited as the rest of his/her peers. "What's the matter?" you ask. "I've been wait-listed," he/she ...
Effective communication with students who need to hear the most, must happen one to one. Take the time to make sure students are getting what they need and keep students from slipping through the cracks, particularly as Spring fever sets in.
Drawing is another way for students to creatively show what they know. We can incorporate more design in what is going on in class so students can demonstrate understanding visually rather than just in words.
Although testing can be an annoyance to all involved, they are an unfortunate reality in today's educational climate. The best we can do is make the most of the time we have with kids and remind them that it's temporary.
Students are capable of really deep thinking when we allow them an appropriate amount of time to gather thoughts and consider the diverse views of their classmates. If we want students to be critical thinkers, we must give them opportunities to follow their own inquiry and dive deeper into their learning.
Guest post: Laura Gibbs joined the faculty of the University of Oklahoma in 1999, and she has been teaching fully online courses since 2002. You can find out more at her website: MythFolklore.net, which is also home to the "Growth Mindset Cats" -- Cats.MythFolklore.net.
Students who are about to go into the world, out of our watchful environment need opportunities to practice first. Let's give them that and trust that they will take advantage of the chances we provide. Just because there will be a few kids who take advantage in a negative way doesn't mean we should punish the whole group.
Although education is supposed to ensure democracy on some level, the system treats different kids inconsistenly really separating the haves and have nots - and those who don't mind being complicit. We have the power to change this dynamic, at least in our own spaces by giving kids voice in the process.
Most students are curious about many things, it's just a matter of tapping into them. Listen to them while they speak and offer them more opportunities to share their ideas. Try to record it when it happens because magic usually happens and it's great to have proof of those experiences.