Thursday, September 29, 2016

Day 26: A Lunchtime Anecdote

The following conversation was relayed by a colleague of mine, having overheard it in her class.

"Mr. Aion doesn't teach!"
"He TOTALLY does! He just doesn't teach like other teachers.  He makes you think for yourself."
"Yeah, but I don't want to think!"

I think this is what I want.  I don't want students talking about me as much as talking about education.  I want my students thinking about the best way to learn.  I know that my teaching style and the fact that I lean heavily on inquiry-based lessons and these are VERY much outside of the experience of most students and parents.

"You're supposed to be teaching us" is often code for "you're supposed to be standing in front of the room and lecturing."  Education research clearly demonstrates that lectures are not the most effective form of knowledge acquisition.  Lecture does well enough if your goal is to know facts, but that's not my goal.  I want my students to have skills and to be able to think.

I want my students to be able to think.

The biggest complaint that teachers get when they are working through a new type of pedagogy is "he's/she's not teaching us."

Another interesting aspect of this is how students are trained to think about the call and response nature of education.  They think they know what I'm going to ask before I ask it.  They are almost always wrong.  This is leading to some extensive frustration from me as I have to repeatedly say "Stop. Listen to the question I'm asking."

We have been talking about the language of multiplication and division in Math 7.  I've been working with framing multiplication as "5 times 3 means 3 groups of 5."  This was a deliberate choice so that talking about division can be framed as "15 divided by 3 asks us how many groups of 3 are there in 15."

So I wrote 15 divided by 3 on the board and immediately hands went up.

"Put your hands down, please. I haven't asked my question yet."
**hands go down**
"I appreciate your enthusiasm, but that's not what I'm asking.  How would we read this question, using the specific language that we've been talking about?"
"That isn't what I asked. I know that you know the answer. Listen to my question. How do we read this in terms of the language of groups?"
"15 divided by 3 is 5!"

I love that I have some students who understand what I'm doing and are able to explain it to their classmates.  I have great hope that more will come around.

It's a process, for them and for me.

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