Down the road we travel together
Creating an atmosphere in which students can learn and develop an understanding of concepts and ideas is tantamount to my goal as a teacher. To do that I must be able to acutely respond to literacy needs of my students and design lessons that foster a trust mirroring that between a mentor and their apprentice. Each student should come to the class with the curiosity and eagerness to learn, the innate confidence in what they know, and the respect towards their classmates. It is my job to stoke their curious, flickering minds, feed the eagerness and build up a solid foundation for their knowledge whilst maintaining a reverie for each individual personality in the room.
Often students in high school look for a way to leave their own mark before they graduate, an instinctual desire to be remembered for something or to be recognized for creating something. I want to offer my students a way to do just that, but have it serve multiple contexts and be a way for the student to prove their mastery of something mathematical.
Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive process has creation as the highest order of thinking, something which requires enormous understanding of a concept to berth a new line of thinking from it. I will have a binder, sectioned into the chapters and lessons that will be taught in the class over the course of the year. In each lesson of each chapter the students will have the opportunity to illustrate and come up with better examples than the text provided by myself. Once I check their examples to make sure they are logistically sound, I will laminate them and include them in my binder so that future students will be able to see different perspectives of examples from students their age. This independent work, which requires the student’s full understanding of the concept before creating another explanation of it, is an important aspect of a gradual release responsibility framework, will be done outside of the classroom and will hopefully foster more inclusion (Fisher et.al, 2010, p.58).
Having students interact with each other in the classroom is important for their developing social skills, along with the understanding of mathematical concepts. Some ideas just sound more plausible when coming from someone your age, in the same situation you are in, and therefore lessons in my classroom will almost always have some sort of group discussion aspect to it. Building an atmosphere for an argument is tricky, especially with the social breakdown that occurs in high school. But having the ability to argue and debate a topic is a good measure of an adolescent’s increasing skills in responding to logical and ethical claims to a position. Also, prolonged interaction with humans in any context helps with adolescent’s sophistication in using emotions (Frey and Fisher, 2010, p.33). This helps generate critical thinking on a higher level and avoids simple, tangential conversational issues that may crop up in a class discussion. Doubly the ability to successfully argue encourages the mindset to consider deeper levels of understanding as desirable, and not to settle with shallow considerations. Identifying and classifying the strengths of our peers is a place where this is important. Too many times do we take surface level judgments of ability color the way we treat a student’s potential. In the anime television show Claymore, a half-demon huntress Claire and others like her, dubbed Claymores but the local populace, are ranked by their raw strength and sent to different sectors based on those rankings. When teamed up with three higher ranking members in a mission, Claire’s teammates disregard her skills as subpar and show contempt for her ranking. But she has a unique skill that outstrips them all and once recognized by the team leader, provides an avenue for their victory.
There may be some students in my classroom that know they don’t measure up to others in terms of raw ability, and this may affect how they participate in classroom discussions. I want all my students to leave the competition at the door, to be able to recognize positive traits about each other and learn how to use those to complete a task. Having your neighbor understand a concept benefits both of you, as conversation can dive deeper into higher orders of thinking and understanding can increase.
This focus on inquiry based learning and exploration of concepts will help show understanding of the material in ways that testing is unable. As a teacher one of the best ways to raise test scores over the long haul is to teach in a matter such as this (McTighe et.al, 2004, p.27), and the collection of evidence of the student’s understanding will show that a classroom that fosters the development of knowledge in an engaging way creates proficient thinkers and questioners. Because what is life but asking questions, looking for answers, and thinking about why things are the way they are.
Durwin, C. C. (2017). EdPsych modules. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Fisher, D., Frey, N., & Lapp, D. (2010). Real-Time Teaching: Responding When Students Don’t Get. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy , 54(1), 57–60.
Frey, N., & Fisher, D. (2010). Motivation Requires a Meaningful Task. English Journal, 100(1), 30–36.
McTighe, J., Seif, E., & Wiggins, G. (2004). You Can Teach for Meaning. Educational Leadership, 62(1), 26–31.