Friday, January 16, 2015

Too Many Teachers are Working Too Hard

I’m not about to approach this typically, meaning that I’m not here to remind - or inform - readers that the teachers I’ve known spend countless hours beyond their “work day” grading, planning, learning, reflecting, etc.  Instead, I want to address the time spent during class and what I’ve seen in far too many classrooms over my years observing teaching and learning.  Teachers - during class time - are working way too hard.  

I’ve seen it time and time again, a teacher’s leading a discussion and/or presenting a lesson, and he/she will own all of the moments’ verbs...speaking, figuring, sharing, connecting, solving, graphing, diagraming, questioning, writing, drawing, thinking,’s looks exhausting, truthfully.  The other problem, of course, is that all of that work implies that students are on the receiving end of a relationship instead of playing an active and collaborative/participatory role. Quite likely, there’s more “teaching” than learning going on in the room when this happens.  

Thankfully, this is one of the issues in education that’s pretty easily fixed. It doesn’t need funding, consultants, building renovations or an act of congress.  We just need to relinquish some control. It’s all about handing over some of the verbs to our students.  In the model I’ve seen so often, students are listening, copying, and - maybe - potentially answering.  Perhaps they’re even writing if the teacher is good enough to promote note taking during classes. Instead of these, though, let’s promote the evolution that lifts the bar for students and creates an atmosphere in class that has them working hard and owning the learning.  I’m sure there are others, but here are some verbs I’d like to see students engaged in…

Questioning Producing Considering Creating Solving
Proving Evaluating Consuming Validating Debating
Crafting Representing Portraying Discussing Collaborating

Go ahead and pick one, two, or even three of them to try out.  I’d bet that:

  1. You wouldn’t have to work so hard.
  2. Your students will be more likely to achieve your lessons’ objective(s)
  3. Everyone will enjoy being in class more