Hello everyone! It’s good to write another blog entry again. Sorry for the long time between this one and the last one – just a lot of stuff going on. The one will come a lot sooner!
I was thinking - how have I changed as a teacher? The first couple of years of teaching I was happy if students were able to understand the directions I wrote on the board and if the entire class didn’t fail the exams. The early years I was sleep-deprived, didn’t know what I was doing (I still don’t, but it bothers me less now), and was worried I would be discovered as a fake (I’m still a fake, but no one’s found out yet).
Since I’ve become more comfortable with the idea that I’ll never be the teacher I want to be, never have the answers I’m looking for, and may never be able to get degrees of student success with which I am happy, I’ve discovered the freedom of always being wrong. I’m always wrong! The benefit to this, though, is I get to keep trying to find out when I might be right.
Here are some changes I’ve made within the last few years in my teaching:
1) Specifically teaching study skills. Many of my students have made up their own way to take notes – and they’re functional, but they could use some improvement. I give ideas, tips, and my own way of taking notes – and I model this in class every day for the first four weeks – to show students a better way of taking notes.
2) Unlimited Retakes. We learn from failure, not from success, and I want to make sure that students can continue to improve. I personally believe this has resulted in fewer drops and increased scores in my classes without me making material easier.
3) Not waiting. As much as I believe students need independence to learn for themselves, sometimes students can’t ask for help. It could be a matter of pride, or of fear, or of delusion – ultimately it doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is that waiting for students to come to me sometimes means not giving students a nudge that could mean the difference between passing and failing – and sometimes that might mean the difference between staying in and dropping out of school.
How have your classes changed?