How quickly we forget what it’s like to be a student…
When I “went back to school” as it were, the instructor for the the first PIDP course I took did a fabulous job at keeping us active and moving, which helped us to maintain our alertness throughout the day (let’s just say that foundations of adult learning theory is maybe not the most exciting topic).
She often started off with an activity – something where we were up and moving, getting excited, and also learning about each other. It served two-purposes: a wake-up, and also ice-breaker. Perhaps a third benefit was that it gave the instructor an idea of where our energy levels were at. And it being a weekend course, the Friday evenings were definitely low-energy.
One other very small thing she did, but made a big difference, was to use the different white boards around the room. So often the instructor stands at the front, and only uses the board at the front of the room. Having the instructor move the visuals around helped to get students interested and at least a little bit active.
Yes, these are theories that she applied in an andragogical environment, but they are also applicable to young learners. Perhaps shifting from pedagogical methods to introducing andragogy earlier in their learning lives, students would become more engaged and self-directed, and would value life-long learning.
The following account comes from a veteran HS teacher who just became a Coach in her building. Because her experience is so vivid and sobering I have kept her identity anonymous. But nothing she describes is any different than my own experience in sitting in HS classes for long periods of time. And this report of course accords fully with the results of our student surveys.
I have made a terrible mistake.
I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day. It was so eye-opening that I wish I could go back to every class of students I ever had right now and change a minimum of ten things – the layout, the lesson plan, the checks for understanding. Most of it!
This is the first year I am working in a school but not teaching…
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