Make it work

Discussion in 'Education and Academia' started by nsa, Jul 2, 2004.

  1. nsa

    nsa Member+

    New England Revolution; Boston Breakers
    United States
    Feb 22, 1999
    Notboston, MA
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I think that this snippet from another thread needs it own topic.
    I hope that zgcf02 looks in here and tries to address this question. Was the problem that the kids didn't learn what you wanted or how you wanted?

    Kids don't think like adults. One of the toughest lessons that I am learning (hopefully) is that everybody learns differently. It is more than just teaching to the multiple modalities of learning that they throw at you in college courses.

    The auditory learners have different frames of reference for the words that adults may use. The tactile learners are forbidden from doodling more often than not. We do not have the time to provide the visual learners with the repeated demonstrations they need and they are distracted by the kinesthetic learners who are the bane of any discipline-oriented teacher.

    You must validate every one of these learning styles. More importantly, you must convince the kids that their style is valid and can lead to success. How do you do it?
  2. zcgf02

    zcgf02 New Member

    Mar 30, 2001
    How do you do it? I wish I knew... Looking back (I'm no longer a teacher, although I am working on a PhD), I think it gets back to classroom management. You have to have enough control over your class to be able to allow kids to do their own thing.

    In other words, you have to trust the kids and the kids have to trust you enough to be flexible.

    Here's an example: one kids learns a lesson (how to tell time on an analog clock) before all the others. What do you do with that kid? If you give him free time to read or draw, will the other kids get pissed? Should you allow him to try to teach one of the slower kids?

    Also, how do you as teacher address the different learning styles of the kids? Some kids learn by having a little manipulative clock in thier hands. Others learn by just sitting and watching a real clock (part of the problem in our school is the clocks on the wall were always wrong). If you have enough control over your class, then you can cater more easily to each child's needs.

    But it takes a lot to get that control -- especially in the kinds of schools where TFA teachers tend to get sent.

    Now, just being a tyrnat and ruling with an iron fist won't work either. I saw teachers to did that. They're classes were pretty quiet, but the kids didn't learn as much. It's a very tricky balance.

    Finally, let me elaborate on my comment. Like a lot of TFA teachers, I had gone to an elite private college and graduated with honors. I was not accustomed to failing. Or even just getting things 50 or 60% right.

    But I failed a lot as a teacher. I made a lot of mistakes and the kids in my class didn't learn a lot of the things I thought they should have learned. Part of these failures was due to my lack of experience and creativity. Part of these failures was due to the kids' personal circumstances: single parent homes, poorly educated parents, no expectations of doing well in school, substance abuse at home, child abuse at home, and so on.

    But it was very, very hard on me to leave school at the end of the day and feel like I had failed. Even if 60% of the kids got the lesson, or passed their spelling test, or knew their multiplication tables, to me the 40% who didn't really ate at me.

    To me, teachers who work in schools like I did are stronger people than I am. Or maybe they have lower expectations for themselves and their students.
  3. Demosthenes

    Demosthenes Member+

    May 12, 2003
    Berkeley, CA
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    It's definitely not a matter of low expectations. It's being realistic. High expectations and reality aren't mutually exclusive, but they can be difficult to reconcile.

    Most new teachers go into the classroom filled with high hopes, thinking they're going to change the world, and it always turns out to be harder than they expected. Nothing can really prepare you for the difficulties a first year teacher will face, especially at a high needs school.

    The challenge is to set a huge goal for yourself, but not want to kill yourself when you don't achieve it. Teaching isn't an all-or-nothing proposition; you do the best you can and accomplish as much as you can. And most importantly, you get better as the years go on. First year teachers are not as effective as fifth year teachers. I guess all I'm saying is, it doesn't happen right away. Five years down the line, that 40% "failure" rate will be 10% or 5% or less.
  4. djwalker

    djwalker BigSoccer Supporter

    Jul 13, 2000
    The 405
    FC Dallas
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Your effectiveness as a teacher can never, ever be measured by tests, grades, how many kids you think 'got' your lesson, or anything even approaching numerical measurement.

    Your effectiveness as a teacher will only manifest itself in what kind of person your students become, and whatever small or large part you might have had in that process and outcome.

    You're right if you're thinking you it's impossible to measure that.

    The best most of us can do is get lucky enough to have a former student look us up someday and write or call or visit to tell us we made a difference in their life. The next best thing is to keep tabs on the students who make a name for themselves, and hope that had maybe we had a little bit to do with their success.

    Teachinig is very zen-like in that way. We have only a right to the work, not to its results.

    This is why the current mania for standardized test scores as the sole measurement of a school's success or failure is so miserable wrong. Politicians and bureaucrats crave numerical measurement, because they can manipulate it to their own ends. Real educators know that those measurements have little to no value in the big picture.

    You went in the classroom and did your damndest every single day; that was enough, and it was all that could be asked of you. You succeeded, you'll just never now specifically how or with whom. That's just the way our profession is.

Share This Page