- What is the essential question, the purpose of this knowing this content?
- How does this lesson fit within the narrative of the unit?
- What life skills do I wish to foster in my students?
- How do I differentiate my instruction for such a diverse group of learners?
- How will I assess the students? How will I assess myself?
- Will this material be reproducible and easily shared?
I know these are many questions, but each one was critically worth addressing. It was no wonder that I would often spend 4-5 hours of preparation to deliver 55 minutes of instruction. During delivery of these lessons, labs, and explorations, I learned how to interact with and facilitate the growth of 40 young individuals. This wasn’t all sunshine and roses, mind you. I made mistakes and had some failures. I faced a long list of recommendations for improvements and took them to heart and to paper. I had to learn how to be okay with being inexperienced and shift my mindset into embracing vulnerability to allow professional growth and personal development. This is my nitty gritty reality of learning how to teach.
By comparison, my clinical practice seemed so much more real and meaningful than the theory and “big ideas” presented in class and coursework. At the start, it seemed like many of the texts and course materials were all about the big picture and grand vision of how and what education could be against the face of reality of what education currently is and does. Frankly, it didn’t seem very helpful at the time as I wanted to focus on the concrete tips and strategies on how to be a better teacher which I was getting from the clinical practice.
Now that the first semester is done and the program is halfway complete, I realize the need to focus on that grand narrative of what teaching means in the 21st century. Being hyper-focused on creating lessons and delivering content blinded me a bit - I had to step back and think about why this is even all worth it. The big picture is important here because we need to recognize our role in it. Doing so will allow us to continue to collaborate with each other, grow our personal learning networks, and make real impactful change for our students and our society. I will have the rest of my career to focus on the nitty gritty details on how to improve my pedagogy, but I will not have the same opportunity as I do now to share the same learning space with such a diverse cast characters driven by the same goal - learning how and why we teach.
Markham, T. (2015, February 11). Redefining Teachers with a 21st Century Education ‘Story’. Mindshift. Retrieved from ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/