A member of my PLN recently posted a link that gave a brief summary of the “Ten Things Teachers Should Unlearn“. Looking it over I agreed with many of the points, however disagreed with one in particular. Well I didn’t so much as disagree with it as I did with the wording of the point. Someone suggested that I write my own list, however upon reflection I thought why not make a list- of what teachers should be doing, in opposite of the Unlearn List.
The list states 10 points which means, that I will try and have ten points, but best of all the post had a video of the coolest teacher in world, well not of this world. However, the clip ended short of the his most famous teaching, which I have posted at the end of my list. Here is the full clip though.
10 Things teachers should do:
1. Teachers should be ready and willing to accept that they don’t know all the answers.
However, remember this is a good thing, most of all it makes you real. It shows students and others that you are comfortable stating that you don’t know everything. As well the journey to finding the answer brings teacher and student together during a common goal – learning.
2. Teachers should have an understanding with students of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors within a classroom.
You must however be aware and prepared to point out rules and if necessary give out consequences. Keep in mind that it is the behavior that is unacceptable not the student, which means you will have to reflect after an incident as to what the precursor’s were.
3. Teachers should be prepared to interpret the curriculum and facilitate learning.
To me this means that as a teacher I bring to the classroom, what key concepts and transitions should take place within a year. That I should also have a starting and ending point in mind, but that the journey should not be controlled or regulated by myself alone. That students, other teachers, and other resources like online and social media can all play a role in a students education.
4. Respect is a reciprocated entity. You have to give it to earn it.
The title of teacher has changed in meaning and in importance over the years. Where once no one spoke in a classroom unless they were given permission, there are now classroom where open discussion is the format of teaching. A teacher inherits only some respect by title, the rest will have to be earned by building trust, building relationships and other key elements like honesty.
5. Describe a students abilities and areas of need using words not using letters and numbers.
It is too easy to grade all year, mark assignments and then translate that into a percentage or letter grade. One should report how a well a student is able to meet the curricular requirements of their age group or learning level. This is more than saying a student is approaching standards or not. The more time and detail put into a report the more clarity is provided.
6. Teachers need to assess a student based on what they have learned and how they have learned it.
Although there is a huge push in many areas regarding standardized testing. Most standardized test that are group administered are only check reading ability and the ability to recall information, and regretfully some individuals use the results to sort students. In my opinion you can only assess a student on information that is covered or has been covered. As a teacher one should never teach to the test, it is an injustice.
7. Teachers should create an interactive and engaging learning environment that uses many methods of learning.
The old concept of teaching students, in neatly organized rows, in a stringent time line is leaving, if not gone. Students, like teachers need to be able to communicate to learn from each other through conversation. A classroom that regularly is so quiet that you can hear a pin drop teaches only one thing, the ability to sleep with ones eyes open.
8. Teachers should use many methods of teaching to increase learning, especially technology.
Technology and the use of technology is the current direction of both education and society. With this in mind, where else should students be learning to use it, work with it and essentially play with it. Personally, without it I wouldn’t have made all the connections I have in my PLN so why would I deny this experience to my students.
9. Teachers need to use many methods to support learning.
I am not saying that worksheets are archaic, but I am saying that you can not solely rely on worksheets and practice to support learning. You have to think about projects, activities, games, and other methods that will support learning but excite students about learning. When it doesn’t seem like work it is more interesting.
10. Teachers need to assign more than homework to ensure learning.
On a daily basis, I can easily say that I rarely assign homework. Home work to me was something that I did not enjoy as a student and rarely put a lot of effort into. I will ask students to work on a project or to read something, but if the student was unable to grasp the concept in class, why would I assume they would grasp it at home. Use sparingly.
There are a multitude of other suggestions that are swimming in my mind as to the advice that I would give, however I will keep my post similar to the one that I read. When I graduated from university and enter my first teaching position the elements that teachers should Unlearn were regretfully some of the things I believed, but in my defense, I had just graduated and most of my understanding of teaching came from a text. Experience, combined with watching and talking with experienced teachers has changed many of those old ideas, but like my students I am still learning and still excited about learning. Most importantly I have learned don’t just try to implement something, or try to change something. Do it, if it fails change it or do something new.
Do or Do Not, there is no Try