If you teach 4 or 5 hours a day, and your school has 170 or 175 days of instruction per year, you should hit mastery somewhere around year 13 or 14.
That, believe it or not, is the good news.
Students who learn together in pairs can accomplish great things: as a pair, they can be more creative, more flexible, and can push each others’ ideas further. Partner learning (called Havruta, starting back in the ancient Jewish Yeshivas, and continuing to this day) is the original crowd-sourcing! A crowd of 2! But chevruta can also […]
Says the author:
Taking the risk of being with each other, breathing a sigh of relief when we know we are safe with each other, and then getting on with the business of being normal, nice people — except that for each of us here in Jerusalem right now, every normal, nice interaction that would be forgotten in a second if we were living in normal days — [all this] is now taken into the heart as a little, precious sign that all may not be lost, and that faith between [people] may yet prevail.
In class planning, too often I see (and have written) projects with high stakes based on skills that have never been practiced in class.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t be planning awesome projects. One of the five things I remember from High School was a mythology project, wherein I created an epic radio drama. Did it contain computerized music, voices, hilarious non-sequiturs, and scraps of information from class? Yes.
Did I use it to bring learning I’d been doing all semester to the next level?
Students operating autonomously will streamline the extent to which you must serve as “logistic-ringmaster.” This conserves your energy, preserves your voice, and should you need to address the class, you will get better attention from the students since you have not been barking orders at them!
Affirm frustration, relieve the student of needing to argue further, and offer a new option!
Your persona is your voice-box. Your buffer. Your shield. It’s the point of contact between you and the children. It’s the difference between Evan Wolkenstein and “Mr. Wolk.”
Students learn that teachers grade work with a desirable grade when they “like” it. And that is a dangerous but understandable conclusion for students to draw. It is counterproductive to the meta-goal of learning how to take criticism for the benefit of the product – and it teaches that setback is bad. Unlikable. Yucky.
One year, a student with some learning differences bombed an essay test she should have thrived on. She touched on zero of the brilliant ideas she’d fronted in class discussion. At a conference, her mother said, well, was there an outline I could give her to make sure she touched on all the main ideas?
Rather, students must learn, month by month, and year by year, to listen like a therapist, assess like a scientist, and respond like a friend.