Tuesday, November 03, 2009

One pre-columbus post

I will be leaving early for the ISACS conference in Columbus.

I have heard stories from a number of teachers about their coping and survival strategies. One that stands out because I've heard it over and over again, is that of choosing one or two students in a class on whom to shower attention. Teachers get very tired of trying to gain participation and interest from the back of the room. It seems better to choose a few friendly faces and give your attention to them than to stand in front of a class feeling foolish and embarrassed while facing complete disinterest. This is similar to a strategy used by speakers. They note those in the audience who give attention, and use them as their focal points in the audience. It is a more effective strategy as a public speaker than as a teacher. In a classroom, is it really such a good idea to give attention only to a few? What if classes were small enough that each student could receive necessary attention for learning, as though each really mattered?

You can see from my videos, how much attention is necessary to keep the children productive in wood shop. It takes constant encouragement, and being fully present to each and every student's needs.

Unfortunately, many students learn very early that the teacher has very little time for them. They sit at the back of the class, and while they may not be directly disruptive, they may be completely detached from learning.

Presenting hands-on learning is demanding. The objects in a wood shop are engaging. The vises make clunking noises that can be a distraction. Children need to be brought to attention in order to learn. I have begun thinking of it as a symphony. You allow the children to tune their instruments. Then you tap with your director's wand on the podium, and they come to attention for the delivery of essential information. Then with a wave of the wand, let the making begin. It is a challenge, but we are working on it. And it takes absolutely every instrument to make the necessary music.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

After 35 years of teaching, I still think of my best moments on the job as leading a symphony.

Mario