Monday, July 21, 2008

More Reflections on the Act of Teaching

In the post Never Stop Learning, Jen makes some very important points that had me reflect on my own ideas about teaching:

1. It is fun to learn something new especially if it turns out better than expected.
2. You reach more people if you can teach one and they can go out and teach others.
3. Keep trying.
4. It’s okay to admit that you don’t know something.

Jen talks about working with another teacher using a program that Jen didn’t think was so great. But working together, she found out that it worked out better than expected. If Jen had not had an open mind, she could have resisted helping this teacher at all. Or she could have shared her negative thoughts with this teacher and started a downhill spiral about technology. Her willingness to try and the success will go a long way to encouraging others to do the same thing and I hope I can be a model like this for my colleagues.

I think it was great that this teacher was willing to help another one. Again, this shows what a great job Jen did in helping this teacher. Obviously she made the learning steps manageable and easy to understand which gave this teacher confidence. The teacher knew she could always come back to Jen for help if necessary. Do I do that for my students? I need to take a look at whether I’m having the same impact on my students. Do I also give students the freedom to help each other learn without considering it cheating? If students teach one another, their new information is retained longer because they are able to apply their knowledge. I need to make sure that I give my students opportunities to do this.

In the process of tweaking her blog, Jen is trying new things and in the process learning. She is also sharing this with us through her blog which allows for comments and suggestions that might help her. Again this willingness to experiment and openness to others may actually help her be more successful. Sometimes students learn more by investigation and exploration than just being told what to do. Again, I need to make sure that students are given opportunities to do this. By doing this, students will gain confidence and willingness to try more and more things. As a teacher, I can be their safety net rather than dragging them through the learning process.

It is really hard to admit that you don’t know something or that you need help. I think in society we are brought up to consider this a sign of weakness. We don’t want our bosses to think we are incompetent if we don’t know something. Yet, I think it shows greater strength if you can admit that you don’t know something and are seeking the answers to help. The weakness lies in accepting that you don’t know something you need to know and making no effort to seek the answers. That is why it is so important to have a professional learning network, whether in real life or virtual because there is always someone out there who is more than willing to help or can direct you to others who might be able to help.

How do you feel about these ideas? Do you agree or disagree? Please let me know.

Photo credit: team work by Omar Eduardo


JLWagner said...

I can tell you that I am always not that successful with teachers -- but (grins) I try.

I am more of a solitary I am encouraged by your comments about me asking for help. That is something I need to do -- find hard to do -- but I guess through my blog, perhaps I am succeeding.

Thank you for your kind words, and for your friendship.

Means a lot.

loonyhiker said...

Jennifer: I love reading your blog because it has helped me grow in what I believe in and how I teach. Your blog makes me think and helps me from becoming stagnant! Thank you!