When I worked on getting National Board Certified, the thing that really stuck in my mind was how I had to have a reason for everything I did.
Over the years, I did things by habit because I was trained that way but I didn’t always understand why I did these things.
I grew up cutting off the ends of the cucumbers and rubbing them on the end before throwing them away. My daughters asked me why we did that and I told them that my parents taught me that but I didn’t know why. I asked my mother about it and she said her mother taught her to do it and it supposedly drew the bitterness out of the cucumber. If I hadn’t asked my mother why before she passed away, I would never have known why I did that.
Suddenly I started looking at my teaching habits in a new light. I looked at all of the things I did and started to ask myself what the reason behind it was. It is interesting at the reasons that come into play. I knew that when my answer was only “that’s the way I was taught” or “everyone does it that way,” I knew it was time to either come up with a better reason or change what I was doing.
I started looking at other teacher’s habits and began to wonder if some of the activities were just busy work for the students. I started asking them why they did certain things and not all of them were receptive to my questioning. I started to wonder what my answers would be if someone asked me why I was doing certain things and it helped streamline my teaching. I started to have more time to concentrate on the important things because I got rid of the busy work or things that had no reason for being in the lesson.
I also found out that by sharing my reasoning for some things with my students, it helped the teaching and the learning. Students started understanding the relevance of what we were doing and why we were doing it. Suddenly some lessons were making sense to them. If I explained that this lesson was a building block for a future lesson and the final outcome would be a specific ending, they worked harder because they had a reason to do so.
What questions do you ask yourself about your teaching activities? Please share.