It’s an exhilarating time. The phone calls have diminished as has the e-mail. Most educators are winding down the new year. Brenda and I will attend the high school graduation of a niece this afternoon, just before dropping my son off at the Train station for orientation at UNC-Charlotte on Monday!
For some of us, we’re winding up for NECC, preparing presentations — and as a result, thinking and rethinking about teaching, learning, classrooms, and schooling in this time of rapid change. I’m especially excited about the preconference workshop I’ll be teaching on Sunday (June 24). Since NECC provides presenters with the e-mail addresses of educators who have registered for our workshops, I can contact them and learn more about their needs. For this particular workshop, a wiki has been established, where attendees are quite literally participating in the planning and even setting the agenda of the event. I will feel much more confident that the learning I plan to facilitate will be what the audience needs.
In amongst all of this thinking and planning and thinking and planning, I was interviewed last week by Kansas educator, Kevin Honeycutt for his Driving Questions podcast. Honeycutt asked some great questions, and as is often the case, I didn’t think of the really good answers until after we’d laid our Skypes to rest.
One of those questions regarded skills for beginning teachers, right out of university. This one hit home as my daughter has only one more year of college before entering the education workforce. I gave some rambling answers, but two ideas occurred to me today — days later. One question that I might ask, as a school principal interviewing a prospective teacher is, “What have you learned today?”
I’m not looking for teachers who merely know how to teach. I want professionals, for which learning is an active and conscious part of every day life. I’d want to know what they’ve learned today, and what they think about it — might be a useful conversation starter.
The other thing that I would ask is, “How would you go about preparing a particular unit (and here’s the good part) without a teacher’s edition to the textbook. How would you learn what you’ll need to know, what will you do with what you’ve learned in order to give it energy, and how will you convey it to your learners?”
One of the ideas that keeps hitting me over the head as I plan for my NECC presentations is that we do our children a disservice by teaching them from pre-packaged, scientifically classified knowledge. It’s teaching by killing the content and mounting it. Our students today must come to learn by living with the content in it’s own habitat, observing, experimenting, exploring, and discovering. EduTopia this month asked sages to speak out on whether teaching is an art or a science. I would say that it’s a bit of both —
— but to say that it is wrong to say that teaching is a science.
However, it might be useful to say that learning is!