Slice of Life Tuesday

The Teacher I Want to Be

I have been dismayed to realize that despite my self-image as a teacher with a learner centered classroom, I am far from truly achieving that goal. 
I have been listening carefully to myself lately, and I don’t like what I hear myself saying to the kids. Instead of empowering my students to take ownership of their learning, I am still the director on the stage. I still ask leading questions rather than ones that push the learner to figure things out for herself. I realize I often spoon feed my students hopeful that they will give me the answer I’m looking for. An answer that will make my job easier. Answers that will fit with what I expect students to say despite the fact that 30 years in education has taught me nothing if not that students are unpredictable, and if we prepare for anything, that is what we should be prepared for. 
An anecdote. The other day I was talking with a student about the fact that she was abandoning more books than she was finishing. I was asking her how she decides if a book is just right for her. She started telling me that one of her strategies is the five finger  rule. Before she could finish explaining, I interrupted her. (Mistake #1) Instead of listening and probing with more open ended questions, I told her not to use the 5-finger rule anymore because it doesn’t often work. I continued by asking her what else she does to determine if a book is just right for her. She proceeded to do a perfect retelling of what I had just told her about the 5-finger rule. When I asked her if that’s what she really does or if she was telling me what I wanted to hear (not in those words exactly), she nodded sheepishly. 
One lesson that I am learning over and over again during this first month of school is that I need to listen more and talk less. I need to simpler questions that force students to dig deep within themselves for their truth. I need to ask questions that help the learner think for herself. I need to ask questions that support students in doing more of the work. I need to ask questions that honor the learner and what she brings to the table. I need to really see the strengths rather than the deficits. Because in the big scheme of things, focusing on a student’s deficits says more about me than it does about the learner. I need to stay positive as I notice and name what students can do even if it’s incomplete or tentative. 
I need to continue to listen to what I say to my students. I need to weigh the value of my words. 
Although all of these changes may be awkward at first, I know it will get easier with time until I get closer to the teacher I want to be. 
Slice of Life Tuesday

The Teacher I Want to Be

The


I have been dismayed to realize that despite my self-image as a teacher with a learner centered classroom, I am far from truly achieving that goal. 

I have been listening carefully to myself lately, and I don’t like what I hear myself saying to the kids. Instead of empowering my students to take ownership of their learning, I am still the director on the stage. I still ask leading questions rather than ones that push the learner to figure things out for herself. I realize I often spoon feed my students hopeful that they will give me the answer I’m looking for. An answer that will make my job easier. Answers that will fit with what I expect students to say despite the fact that 30 years in education has taught me nothing if not that students are unpredictable, and if we prepare for anything, that is what we should be prepared for. 
Teacher
An anecdote. The other day I was talking with a student about the fact that she was abandoning more books than she was finishing. I was asking her how she decides if a book is just right for her. She started telling me that one of her strategies is the five finger  rule. Before she could finish explaining, I interrupted her. (Mistake #1) Instead of listening and probing with more open ended questions, I told her not to use the 5-finger rule anymore because it doesn’t often work. I continued by asking her what else she does to determine if a book is just right for her. She proceeded to do a perfect retelling of what I had just told her about the 5-finger rule. When I asked her if that’s what she really does or if she was telling me what I wanted to hear (not in those words exactly), she nodded sheepishly. 
One lesson that I am learning over and over again during this first month of school is that I need to listen more and talk less. I need to simpler questions that force students to dig deep within themselves for their truth. I need to ask questions that help the learner think for herself. I need to ask questions that support students in doing more of the work. I need to ask questions that honor the learner and what she brings to the table. I need to really see the strengths rather than the deficits. Because in the big scheme of things, focusing on a student’s deficits says more about me than it does about the learner. I need to stay positive as I notice and name what students can do even if it’s incomplete or tentative. 
I
I need to continue to listen to what I say to my students. I need to weigh the value of my words. 
Want to Be
Although all of these changes may be awkward at first, I know it will get easier with time until I get closer to the teacher I want to be. 
#EdCollab · #SOL · #TWOTC

#EdCollab and #TWOTC twitter chats

I participated in back-to-back Twitter chats tonight. Two hours of fast-paced, free professional learning, coaching and collaboration. Ideas, encouragement and pure inspiration that I will take back to my classroom tomorrow.

#EdCollab and #TWOTC

Back-to-back learning opportunities.
My choice.
My needs.
Nerdy teacher heaven.

Here are nine takeaways from these two chats:

  • When I am working with a student, I must always make sure to teach at the point of a child’s strengths and zone of proximal development.
  • As I grow and change my beliefs and practice, I will benefit from creating a “cheat sheet” with questions to ask students when I confer with them. Questions that remind me to talk less so that students do most of the work.
    • I need to ask questions like – 
      • What did you try? 
      • What will you try? 
      • What have you tried before? How did that go?
      • What can you try now? 
      • Tell me about what you did here.
      • What makes you say that?
      • If you knew the answer, what would you say?
  • I will stay focused on my students’ strengths and not on their weaknesses. I will celebrate my students for who they and not for who we want them to be.
  • In order to grow as a teacher, I need collaborators. Other teachers who want to dig deep, talk, probe and innovate with me. I need other risk takers who are also there for the students.
  • I need to listen more and talk less. Those doing the talking are doing the learning.
  • Starting tomorrow, I plan to ask my students: “What are you proud of?” @SteveWyborney The focus is on celebrating small and big successes that students recognize about themselves.
  • It’s important for students to understand how we learn so they can take charge of their learning.
  • Learning is not about magic or innate ability. It’s about having a positive disposition and engaging in hard fun in an environment where the learner is not penalized for his or her learning. @GosnellMac
I truly love Twitter chats. I always learn something new about myself. I am always inspired by other educators, and the generosity of teachers to coach each other into better versions of ourselves.