Posted on : 03-09-2011 | By : rmmadden | In : Uncategorized
After chastising myself for a mistake I should have foreseen, I quickly came up with an alternative plan for the second graders awaiting their turn. Just as with the first graders, I showed the second graders how to fill in the first two boxes. This time, however, I allowed them to do the same before I explicitly showed them how to fill in that all-important third box. Instead of only three students getting it (as was the case in the 1st grade class) I had all but two students get it. Can some of this be attributed to the age difference? Absolutely. But I know had I been more explicit with the first graders, I could have easily gotten half of the class, and probably more, on board with me.
When I look back at the early part of my career it seemed I didn’t even know what mistakes I was making let alone how to fix them. Even just two years ago, this pedagogical breakdown might have stymied me, but now I’m getting to a place where I’m diagnosing and fixing practically on the fly. This is not a diatribe against those who think teaching is nothing more than regurgitation, although it easily could turn into that, but instead a question: Is there a way to help teachers early in their careers become better at self reflection? I understand that what’s really needed is time and experience, but I wonder if those of us who have had time and experience rely on that answer as a crutch to shirk of our responsibility to help teachers new to the profession. Is there a way we can better pass on our experiences and thought processes to our less experienced colleagues?
All of this calls to mind the phrase, “Experience is the best teacher” But doesn’t it really comes down to how we reflect on our experiences? Making mistakes and learning from them is part of life and learning, and especially a part of teaching. While I think about those first graders who left my room as having lost an opportunity, I am truly thankful they were the only ones. If I was a newer teacher, how many other classes would have lost that opportunity as well before I finally figured it out? Students will always be sacrificed at the altars of teachers’ pedagogical ignorance; it’s just a reality of our profession. But we owe it to the students of our less experienced colleagues to find a better way to pass on how we reflect on our experiences and make them more meaningful.