Give 'em a Chance
Anyone who has children knows the great parallel between teaching strategies
and child rearing. Often times, the same techniques we use to raise our
children are directly applicable in the classroom. One such technique is the
discipline of standing back and giving your child a chance to show you they can
handle situations. I can't complain that my child is not walking if I never
give her the opportunity to try on her own. I can't complain that my teenager
doesn't make mature choices if I control all her decisions.
We do the same in education. We can't complain that our students aren't taking
control of the material and thinking critically if we never give them the
opportunity to do it themselves. Common practice today is to write a lesson
plan involving a PowerPoint filled with information which we turn around and
hand to the student to bring to class. It hit me this week that all I am doing
when I follow this trend is taking control of the learning.
I tell them what to
study, I hand them the information I think is important and in return they are
not going beyond my boundaries. Why would they? I have basically told them
exactly what to do to succeed in my class.
I think there are little changes I can make to my teaching technique that could
change things. First, before my lecture, I am making my students responsible
for the material in the text. Gone are the days of me covering the text cover
to cover in presentations. They are expected to know the information from the
reading and online resources from which I provide them enough to show up to
class ready to answer questions.
This leads us to the second technique of
teaching through questioning. My students will show up to lecture equipped only
with pencil and paper for note taking. I will give my presentation that they
will not have access to until after my lecture. I will question them and
attempt to expand their knowledge and guide them to reaching that
higher level of thinking. Then after class, they will have access to my
presentation for studying.
I need to start giving my students a chance to show me that they can do more.
It is very easy to give students step by step instructions, but I think it only
prevents them from thinking outside those boundaries. They get road blocked by
rules and guidelines and they do not see past it. It is possible too
that they do not want to put in more effort than what has been described
because they know exactly what they have to do for full credit.
told me to pass a test I would have to carry 10 pounds across the room, I
would make sure I could carry 10 pounds across the room. If they said instead
that I would be expected to carry weight across the room of unknown amounts,
but my grade is based on the top amount I could carry, I would probably
try and carry 50 pounds!