Thursday, September 9, 2021
I've read a lot of articles and books about teaching and learning. But, as others have pointed out, reading is not really learning. So, if I'm honest, they've not tended to lead to better teaching. However, I recently joined a small class as a student. That's when the lessons, principles, and methods that I've read so much about began to take root in me. In particular, I started to notice something special about how to teach because I was no longer the teacher but the student who was learning and growing.
I loved this teacher's method because the teacher would read a portion of text and then asks us what we saw. In other words, it was learner-centered teaching. The star of the action was not the teacher but us as our teacher guided us by asking us to see, learn, think, create, reflect, interpret, explain, test, hypothesize, analogize, critique, extrapolate, and create meaning. And, the best part of this class has been that we've been doing all of this as a group in community with each other. Not in competition but in cooperation in which each voice adds to the whole of what we learn. And, one of my favorite moments is seeing my teacher takes notes as we converse about what we see in the text. That suggests to me that if I am not learning from my students, they aren't learning either. It's absolutely thrilling to be a student guided by such wonderful teaching.
So, if you feel stymied in your role as a teacher, you might see what you can learn by joining a class as a student. It's a lesson that is guaranteed to produce results.
Oh, and as a side note, some of my worst classes as a teacher have been when I over-prepared so much that I left no room for my students to learn. I'm not saying don't prepare, but teaching requires us to listen, to reflect, and to learn with our students. It's a conversation in relationship with each other. And, that's risky because it means that, if we are honest, we don't have all of the answers or even all of the questions. And that's okay. We don't have to be perfect as teachers - being present in learning with our students is more than enough. (Scott Johns).