Monday, July 12, 2010

mystery explained

As the son of a Kindergarten teacher, I was always amazed by how my mother would know all her children by name within the first two days of school. Imagine having 25-30 children in the morning and and another equal number in the afternoon class, and then having all the names memorized and connected with each face before the end of day 2!

In comparison, when I teach at Marc Adams School of woodworking, I struggle to know the names of my 18 students by the end of the week.

Today, one of my students at ESSA, a third grade teacher, explained her method to learn all her students names so quickly. Her explanation provided insight into how my mother did it, too. By the time the child's name is written by the teacher on so many things, lockers, cubbies, name tags on desks, file folders, lesson plans, and more before the first day of school arrives, the name is strongly locked in memory and then when the face is added at the moment of first introduction, the lasting connection is made.

This explains a great deal about how we learn. It fits the idea of use it or lose it. It also affirms the value of repetition and preparation. We learn best and most efficiently when we have clear purpose and method for learning.

What often seems magic, or an example of exceptional intelligence may only boil down to method, diligently applied, and I tell this not to diminish my mother's accomplishments, but to give clearer direction to our own.

At Marc Adams school, in contrast, the student's names are engraved on wooden plaques that are affixed to each workbench and taken home as a souvenir at the end of class. It is a nice touch for the student, but not the best technique to facilitate the teacher knowing student names. I am only able to connect student faces with their names when I am standing at their bench, or through a great deal of effort to use each student's name during the days of the class. So you can see that I have my work cut out for me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

After 35 years of teaching, with over a hundred new students every semester, I never could remember very many names. Only the best and the worst.