A couple days ago during our recording of the LTL Podcast, my good friend Christopher King posed a great question.
"If students have the ability to choose the classes they go to, would they choose ours...would they choose yours?"
That is a valid question.
I remember there were times that if I asked myself the same question, I would have said no. I feel like I was a good teacher but upon reflecting on some of those classes, I would have chosen no...I'm not sure I would have taken my class.
I didn't recognize this at the time but I felt my classes were relevant...but were they relevant to me or were they relevant to the students?
Why in the world would a student not want to learn about Reconstruction? Why would they not want to sit back and read about and discuss the Gilded Age. I mean, everyone likes history right??
If I could go back this is what I would do...
Screen my students - By that, I mean give them personality inventories and check their learning modalities. I would even screen to see their reading ability. Why? It wasn't until I moved into an elementary principal job that I realized that some of my high school students couldn't read. How's that for hindsight. Believe me it is easy to do because secondary folks were all about the content and most of us had very little background on the pedagogy side of teaching kids...at least that was my experience.
Provide real world problem solving experiences - Not the problem solving experiences where I have a specific answer but one where there is no answer. The students' role is to solve it. Who knows, they may think of things from their perspective that we never thought of.
Fun and relationships - I feel I was good at this but looking back I know I could have done better. I would greet them everyday, ask them about life and spend more time getting to know my students. I have learned more than ever this past year that life is too short to worry about the little things. They are kids, they are going to make mistakes and that is ok.
Speaking of mistakes...
Encourage more risk-taking - This would be for me and the students. I liked to do different things in my classroom but I pretty much kept to the pacing guide and standards. Looking back I feel that those things are important but I could still get it done without relying on them so much. I would want to make sure that my students knew that my classroom was a place where you could make mistakes (including me) as long as you learned from them and grew.
Personalize learning - Not every kid learns the same. Not every kid can read the same passage about Teddy Roosevelt and understand the same things. Heck, I didn't even think that some of the kids couldn't read the passage at all. But now I know that some could not. With my increased knowledge of technology, I feel that I could use that to help me personalize learning, even in a high school history class.
Again, I don't think I was a bad teacher. In fact, I still get comments from former students about how they loved my class. However, I know I could have done more.
Knowing what I know now and implementing the strategies I mentioned above...I think if I were in the classroom today and I sold tickets to my class...kids might just buy them.
What about you?