Friday, April 23, 2010

end, week 2

For my week "assisting" in the classroom, I created a lesson: different responses to "How are you?", since the kids sort of seize up around anything other than "okay/so-so/bad". I didn't know what to do to work with 45 kids, but I made up a sort of relay game to play after they learned the words, where I'd cover a word on the board and a pair in each team would have to do the dialogue. They liked it, overall: I think they're game for being engaged, and having someone expect them to try.

After the first class, I realized I'd made the classic mistake of assuming they understood the words, without checking their understanding. Won't do that again, although I'm pretty sure the first class to experience a given lesson will have a distinctly less effective experience than the eighth. As I learn how to teach, the starting baseline will go up, and I think it'll all work out.

By the fourth and final class, I disliked this lesson intensely. I realized how much I slacked on it: I didn't want to spend time and materials on making up cards or anything, for what I considered a throwaway, an obligatory sort of thing. I wanted to limit my effort when it wasn't going to be my classroom, a smaller group where I could more directly manage the environment. I probably could have done a full-on charades game, that would have gotten more kids engaged, and they would have learned better. I could have been more effective, and here's how. Go big or go home.

These are the kinds of choices I get to make as a teacher. I control the vertical, I control the horizontal: what they learn, and how many of them learn it, and how well, all depend on how I construct the classroom environment. I didn't have to do more with this lesson, but the consequence was in the students' experience--which alters my experience, because of what I want for the students and what kind of teacher I want to be. It sounds paradoxical that "student-centered learning" depends so entirely on the teacher.

Blaming the students is such a massive refusal of responsibility. It's us. We're it.

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