Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Cycle

This is the third year I've started the school year in a classroom of my own as an official part of the faculty.  You would think that after three years, it would get easier...but I'm betting there are some teachers who would tell you that after 30 years, it's still not any easier.

"Complicated" isn't really about the students or the class schedule or the material.  It's about my presentation of the material.  I'm constantly asking questions:  Am I giving them too little?  Too much?  Do they have plenty of time to work in class?  Do they have too much time?  Should we be moving faster?  Slower?  Do they understand what I'm telling them?  Do I need to give them more background information?  Less?  Have I explained what is required?  What, exactly, do I want them to get out of this lesson?

And the list goes on and on.

Part of my hesitancy in education is my inability to determine how I feel about a good  number of factors.  Homework, for example.  I have no idea how I feel about homework.  I don't want to give a ridiculous amount of work, but I also think it's good to make the students responsible for something every now and again.  Paired with that is my concern for the students who don't have access to a computer--except at school.  I know they could stay after or come in early, but both of those options are limited.  Someone has to be there to supervise, and few students (or teachers!) get to school before 7:15 am.

My ultimate goal is to give students the capability to reason through a problem, and determine the necessary steps to solve it.  I think that lesson can come in a variety of forms--writing a research paper, working on a group project, participating in a class activity, etc.  But in the end, the lesson is always the same.

The process is cyclical.  With that in mind, it doesn't seem so unreasonable that the teacher who is trying to reason through a problem is also trying to teach students how to do that very thing.

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