March 22, 2010 at 12:41 am (Uncategorized)

I just finished grading the tests on the first unit completely taught and directed by me. The results? Less than stellar.

Following my CT’s lead, on my pre test day review, I asked questions directly from my test and in the exact same order as they would appear on the test. And still, the majority of my students got a D or F. The majority! Perhaps more frustrating, a few of the industrious students got 100% right on the multiple choice and matching sections (as they wrote down the answers that I revealed letter by letter in class), and then bombed the short answer portion. This reveals to me that, though they were smart enough to memorize the one letter answers, they didn’t actually learn anything during the unit that they could use to answer a short answer question that requires higher order thinking.

I’m kind of at a loss. I structure my units and lessons in a logical way. I try to place our learning in a historical context. I set up my notes in such a way as to promote understanding, rather than mere memorization. And yet I’m met, time and again, by students who, either by conditioning, limited faculties, or my own failures, refuse to deal with the material in an interactive way and prefer to keep their heads down until the lesson is over and then go on to the next class.

I need to talk to some experienced teachers who’ve worked in districts similar to mine who also believe in the student-centered activities I learn about in my graduate studies. Too often the only experienced teachers I find are those who scoff at “theory” and cling to direct instruction.

I certainly don’t know it all.


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No Two Ways About It

March 22, 2010 at 12:33 am (Classroom Observations)

There is not two ways about it: teaching is hard. Student teaching, I suspect, is especially hard.

My biggest hurdle right now is the struggle to make my instruction relevant and interesting. I guess that’s what most teachers struggle with. It’s just that I had a somewhat cavalier attitude about my ability to make my class exciting and engaging, even for those kids who had hated history. My expectations have crashed with the harsh realities and I find myself, sadly, amongst those teachers who find their grandiose dreams hamstrung by limited self-motivation amongst the students, resistance to change and hard work, complaining, and behavioral issues which limit my ability to assign group work or discussion.

I don’t mean to whine. Really, I don’t! Rather, I’m about mid-way through a reflection process. What I mean is, the problem(s) have been identified, and now I’m looking around for solutions. I know the solution is not a reversion to only direct instruction. At the same time, many of the innovative and student centered activities I’ve learned through my studies have failed when I’ve tried them in my specific classes.

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