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Effective Teaching Practice?

16 Jun

I have been a Teacher List http://www.theteacherlist.ca/ member for at least ten years. Pete is a local teacher and married to a retired teacher-friend of mine. For the most part, I appreciate his thoughts and TeacherList member recommendations. Passing on websites and interesting links to other teachers has been a delight. Yet, there are times where some of the material presented has struck a chord or a reflective ponder:

“does this resource truly fit the vision,

needs and wants of our school/division initiatives?”.

There have been many a discussion of certain articles, blogs, software, etcetera. I believe, as an educator, we should critically question what we are reading. Look for resources that fit our needs, however we should also be aware of those resources that DO NOT fit our needs.

What am I really talking about? What is the ranting? This week, TheTeacherList promoted Doug Lemov’s book, Teach Like a Champion. I thought to myself – “catchy title” and decided it was worth a look. The URL:  http://www.uncommonschools.org/usi/aboutUs/taxonomy.php provided some basic information, but the nine page NY Times article gave me some really interesting points of thought. Ultimately, my stomach was in a knot about sharing this, yet I thought I would get some good comments from my Learning Services colleagues. I sent the TeacherList write up with these comments (I tried to stay neutral in my thoughts):

***Click on the URL and go to the NY Times article. Although it is 9 pages long, it is well worth the read!! I would welcome your thoughts on this. Should/Could this be a good resource that we share with teachers and admin?***

Diane was first with her comments –

My interpretation of the article and other thoughts:

What I have gleaned from this article is that the taxonomy offers ideas for improving “stand and deliver” techniques. Many of the suggestions offered in the taxonomy are strategies for improving classroom management (how to make the students listen better to the teacher, behave better, follow directions, look at the board…) as well as emphasis on the teacher as the content expert.

While the suggestions are definitely great strategies for a teacher centered approach, I wouldn’t recommend sharing this article with PSD staff. We want to endorse the shift to a more child centred approach, where the classroom is a community of learners, students understand the learning targets, and are engaged as a result of their ownership of the learning. There’s no question that classroom management is a huge component in a child centered approach. However, different techniques are required than those offered in this article.

…And here’s my soapbox (or more eloquently known as my “talking points”)…

The critical thinking approach we are working with is one approach that puts learning into the students’ hands. The teacher’s very important role is to pose the kinds of questions or problems that give students a purpose for learning the content, leading to deeper thinking about the big ideas by having students use predetermined criteria to support the judgements they make. Teachers scaffold the learning by offering them thinking strategies and differentiating instruction along the way. Students uncover the knowledge and understanding outcomes by being engaged in tasks that have them learn and practice the skills outcomes identified in the program of studies.

I added my thoughts and returned the discussion back to the group

First of all, I agree with Diane’s interpretation, thoughts and talking points. I was taken aback from the comments made in the NY Times article that this “taxonomy”/book is targeted to new teachers……they are a group which are more than willing to try anything to be effective and successful teachers; well, ALL teachers want to be effective and successful. My point is that, such as Diane has iterated, this book IS a teacher-centered resource n(according to the article). There is no thought to 21st century skills which are student-centered in nature. Do I want to pick up this book to read? Not really, since there are so many better books out there. Yet, I believe it is important for us to be aware of other ideas/information targeting “effective teaching practices”.

Now, I believe it is time to let others have their chance to discuss…..and add my comments to Pete’s comment area. After all, he should know that he has spurred on some great discussion.

Image – https://icat.okcareertech.org/v3/files/lguilfoyle/m/bgArS1P5fI.jpg

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