Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer School - Day Eleven - Bad Teaching

It's official... I have already given up trying to plan new things for summer school. I have reverted to stand and deliver and here's the worksheets. Of course this means that 5 minutes after my spectacular explanations with examples, I have a line of kids asking questions. "How do I do this?"

Who am I kidding? It's not a line of kids. It's about 3. The rest of them still don't know what to do but they don't bother asking. And this lack of caring from the students contributes to my own ennui. Teachers talk a lot about engaging students, getting them excited and interested and motivated. What about the students' responsibility to reciprocate?

My colleague-across-the-hall, Blair Miller, and I talk a lot about the culture of learned helplessness at our school. A big part of the problem is exactly the kind of teaching I am currently doing in summer school. It creates a climate in the classroom where students expect the teacher to spoon feed them everything they need. And we accommodate them.

Teacher lectures. Teacher gives notes. Teacher gives assignment... but wait! Here is a problem that is not exactly like the notes. I'm lost! Teacher walks through the problem so I don't have to think. I now have correct answers on my page and absolutely no understanding. But that's OK because teacher will spoon feed me again tomorrow.

I plan to make one minor change tomorrow. I am going to introduce the concept of surface area by getting students in groups to figure out how to wrap a present. No spoon feeding. They must work it out together.

I admit, I am not optimistic.


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