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Teaching is Not Rocket Science; it’s More Important
Anecdotal records of students’ academic flexibility and fluency may be enhanced by evaluation of common core standards adapted to performance standards and portfolio assessments based on prior knowledge. Methods of realia simulation to synthesize brainstorming should not only be used with the ability group but with more heterogeneous groups as well.
The soft-skills required to bench-mark in a cooperative learning environment featuring participatory, computer aided, hands-on learning are manifest. One must always criterion check knowledge building and elaborate with learning styles and benchmarks in mind. Using an anticipation guide will enhance the attitudinal elevation that occurs with cooperative learning and knowledge building. Inclusion is not paramount when common core standards and high stakes testing are preeminent.-Some Educator, Somewhere
In all the discussions of testing, common core curriculum, distance learning, hybrid, on-line, assistive technology, contextualized learning, participatory learning and other "new" and "improved" techniques and jargon, what really matters to be an effective teacher is being drowned out. To be a good teacher you don’t have to be a master of technology, create dozens of “innovative” hands-on lessons, be the master of online lesson creation, have read everything ever written by Paolo Freire or know all the objectives in the common core curriculum. No. Beyond knowing your subject well, you need something more fundamental and human.
To be a good teacher you have to listen. You have to listen to not only the words spoken by the students but to their body language. You need to hear the shrugs, the sighs, the rolling eyes, the smiles, the signs of understanding, the signs of confusion. And you must respond and be able to respond with patience and true caring. You can’t feign caring, with children nor adults. Students know when you don’t care.
You must be flexible and willing to throw out lessons that you spent hours on if its not working. You must be willing to change your plan if students have questions that lead you in a different direction. You must be willing and able to let the students take over the discussion of a topic and let it go where it will. If you are talking about the Bill of Rights, and a student has an experience to share about their rights being violated, let it happen. So what if you don’t get to that extra set of questions you planned to give the students. As teachers know, real life must be allowed entry into the classroom if learning is to have meaning.
As a teacher, you must be able to admit when you are wrong. You must also make it okay for the students to disagree with each other and especially you about facts of opinion. What is more important, that you lecture a student who spends only a few minutes in your class each week about the importance of voting, or that you explore the topic of voting? In the end, you might listen and agree with some things that they are saying. Remember, you are a student in the class as well.
As an adult education teacher, I don’t have to be counsel for my students, but it helps to understand the challenges our students face. Our students have jobs, children, sick parents, and their own medical issues. They may have economic challenges, and some deal with societal bigotry. Almost all of my students come with baggage about learning, the classroom, and teachers. I get to listen and care with the knowledge that all of their issues can affect their performance in the classroom. Again, it comes back to empathy and patience.
For many of you, this is all logical and sensible. I wish the heads of local, state and national education departments understood this. Instead of creating new jargon in an attempt to boost the profile of the discipline of teaching, some common sense language about how to reach students is needed. Instead of creating a national set of standards for schools, as if students were all the same, we must acknowledge that each student is an individual, glorious puzzle with their own set of needs and values. Instead of forcing more technology on teachers or new software platforms, a refocus on what is really important in the classroom is warranted.