How do you feel about this type of teaching?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by LittleShakespeare, May 2, 2018.

  1. LittleShakespeare

    LittleShakespeare Comrade

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    May 2, 2018

    Hey, everybody.

    My goodness, PARCC is over, and we are weeks away from summer vacation! I feel like break dancing! I hope you're all doing well. :)

    When I started working at this new school, I noticed something about the teachers' philosophies on teaching. It's SO different from my old school where the teacher had to be the center of every lesson! At this new school, we have an 80 minute block. I have my class read aloud together on some days, but on other days, I have them do literature circles. They also do this: I give them a chapter to read on their own, and they fill out the literature log. At this school, it's encouraged for the students to be working on their own, not necessarily have the teacher up there lecturing all the time.

    Forgive me if this sounds silly, but I feel a bit guilty. :( Of course, I follow the procedures and let the students work independently, but most days, I don't feel like I'm teaching. It's fine, to be honest, because my job as a teacher is to facilitate learning. But as they work in their groups or on their own, I'm just left to monitor and assist.

    I know this sounds crazy, but is this normal? At my old school, we frowned upon self-sustained reading and having the kids read the book themselves. I had to be teaching EVERY SINGLE DAY.

    I just want to make sure I'm doing my best. This summer, I'm going to study grammar books and try to implement a new grammar system to help my ESL students. I'm also going to work hard at professional development since my classroom management needs some tweaking. I do love teaching. I just want to be better, and I feel a little worried that because I'm letting the kids do it on their own, I'm not a good teacher. :(
     
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  3. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    May 2, 2018

    Do you have a department chair? You might want to ask about the school's philosophy on teaching. Do they want you to be lead from the front or be a guide to the side? Both methods have their merits and drawbacks.
     
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  4. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I think there is still room for lecturing in the form of modeling a specific skill or strategy you want your students to be working on. It sounds like they get a lot of independent practice, but do they know what they are supposed to be practicing? Can you do some close reading together where you ask questions to guide their thinking and help them 'dig into' the text a bit more. Then when they're in literature circles, you can be moving from group to group asking those prompts again to help your students apply that thinking to their lit circle text.
     
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  5. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    May 2, 2018

    Our school is great in that no one tries to force teachers here into a particular trend or fad or style in teaching. Some teachers are more effective if they are front and center for the majority of the class period. Some are more effective if they facilitate while the kids work.

    Personally, I think a mixture is best. I do think we need to model and guide our students initially, but then release the responsibility for their learning to them. We can be there to help them when they start to falter or have questions.

    My first principal's philosophy was that at the end of the day the students should be the ones who are wiped out from all the work they've done, not the teachers!

    Another way I've seen it put is comparing the classroom to a ship. The teacher is the captain of the ship, but the students are the crew members. There should be no passengers who are just floating along on the ride not pulling their weight in some capacity.
     
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  6. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    May 2, 2018

    I've heard something similar to this - the person doing the work does the learning. If the teacher is doing the majority of the work, students aren't learning as deeply or effectively (and they don't have to work as hard -- why should they, when the teacher is doing all the work?) There IS a time for direct instruction, but if it's ALL direct instruction then you really have to ask yourself what, if anything, are students gaining from it besides the ability to regurgitate information? I love the gradual release model for this reason - I do, we do, you do. There's a starting point of direct instruction and modeling, but students are expected to be able to do it in groups/pairs AND independently.
     
  7. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    May 2, 2018

    Learning isn't passive, but it could look passive. Someone listening to a lecture can look very passive but be extremely mentally active. So, too, can a student be extremely active during a well designed lecture. Thinking is active. Connecting is active. Taking notes properly is active because you continually need to assess what is being said, its important, and its connections to other information.

    The problem in many classrooms is two-fold. Lessons aren't always interesting enough to stimulate thinking and students aren't always interested in learning. Those two can tie together.

    Application of knowledge must be done by the student. It can be guided by the teacher when students are struggling, but that work has to be done by the students.

    Depending on the information and skills, some require understanding and knowledge, some require application. The method must fit what is being taught.
     
  8. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    May 2, 2018

    I teach English, and I try not to lecture. I give maybe 5 real lectures a year that last longer than 15 minutes. Otherwise, I do a lot of mini lectures and practice. I have my room set up so they look at each other and not me because I want them to lead our discussions as much as possible. I will use guiding questions to steer them, but I love when they can analyze on their own or with a group without needing as much guidance from me.

    I also like doing writing workshops where we do a lot of peer editing and I individually conference with students. I have small classes so it isn't that hard for me. I find this helps them the most.

    There are so many different teaching styles, but that's what works for me! One of the other English teachers in our department does a lot of lecturing and his kids learn a lot too. It's just a different style. Neither one is better though!
     
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  9. LittleShakespeare

    LittleShakespeare Comrade

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    May 3, 2018

    Thank you so much, everyone. To be honest, when I spoke to the curriculum director, he said that it's best for the kids to be working on their own. It's a different school. The kids are REALLY tough at this urban school. They need to be working on something, otherwise I lose them. :(
     
  10. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I agree that student-centered learning is a good tool/strategy, but even "urban" kids can and should learn how to learn from a lecture / active listening. I would keep it short at first (5 mins max) and provide some kind of guided notes assignment so they are still "doing something" while you lecture. I teach Title I seniors and this time of year, I keep my "song and dance" really short and sweet, and then I turn it over to them -- but they can still listen and learn from me in doses.
     
  11. LittleShakespeare

    LittleShakespeare Comrade

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    Of course! I used to do guided notes at my old school, and I use them here, but oh my goodness, the VP says they are "too elementary." :(
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2018
  12. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    May 6, 2018

    Hmm...reminds me of a computer class I took. The instructor was very knowledgeable and mostly lectured. I got almost nothing out of it because I wasn't doing anything. I (and probably a few others) voiced our concerns in e-mail. He then had us do more at our computers while he went around helping. I got so much out of it after that. I worked and he was there when I got stuck. I could tell that the instructor wasn't enjoying it. He looked bored and missed the lecturing. It isn't easy changing our role from teacher to facilitator. In my situation, it really made a positive difference.
     
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  13. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    May 6, 2018

    Like anything in teaching---it's fine in moderation.

    In math I try to balance the time I spend lecturing with the time they spend problem solving (individually or in groups). I probably do about 70% lecturing and 30% student problem solving. I should probably be closer to 50-50, but the 70-30 ratio works for me. One of my colleagues barely ever lectures, and students complain that she "doesn't teach". Another does almost all lecturing, and the kids complain about that too. It's hard to nail it perfectly.
     
  14. That Business Guy

    That Business Guy Rookie

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    Jun 29, 2018

    Students are going to learn by doing; however, the teacher still needs to teach at the appropriate times. There are many times in my classroom when students are working independently and I am on the side as a guide. Teaching does not have to happen in a large group format where it is all eyes on you. While your students are working independently, call students back to your desk one-by-one and have them share with your their biggest "takeaway" from the previous lesson. This will allow you to see what you students have learned and guide them if they are "off-track."

    Also, if you want more direct instruction and involvement, you can always chunk your classroom time.

    *10-15 minutes direct instruction.
    *10-15 minutes of students working on task #1.
    *5-10 minutes class discussion of what students learned.

    *10-15 minutes of direct instruction.
    *10-15 minutes of students working on task #2
    *5-10 minutes class discussion of what students learned.

    Hope this helps!
    http://thatbizguy.blogspot.com/
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
  15. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    Jun 30, 2018

    I also teach English, and my students were often working independently. While in-class time was more sidelines, I think I spent more time preparing lessons and grading.
     
  16. Aces

    Aces Habitué

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    My school recognizes we have different teachers with different styles. Not every student learns the same way, and with diverse teaching styles we can usually get students to be successful. I do a bit of a hybrid. We do take notes and I'm more of less 'lecturing' but then once they get into the labs I step to the side and it's more of a 'I'm here to make sure you don't blow up the school' role.
     
  17. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I'm sure I'm just repeating what may have been said already. A mixture is best. Some direct teaching is very important, at least in a lot of cases. This can be 5-15 minutes, sometimes even more but never a full hour, every day. Kids do need explanation, definition and clarification of certain things, even in English.
    However, it's great to see them doing the learning on their own, especially in groups or pairs. It is music to my ears to hear the low hum of student discourse about the topic. I don't feel guilty if I'm just supervising and assisting student learning, I actually great and proud that I have trained a group of teenagers how to discover something on their own, not get off topic, not get lazy and actually cooperate. This would be my favorite way of teaching, however, like everything, this would get old, too. So to get back to my first point, a mixture of different strategies are best.
     

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