I confess. I am addicted to twitter. And a few blogs.
This morning I was reading Dan Meyer’s blog about developing questions that will engage students with problems. I would like to be able to ask better questions; as a new teacher I am only beginning to develop that skill. Although it isn’t a skill that was addressed in any of my methodology classes, I have come to believe it is a critical skill to have.
Dan’s post doesn’t provide any context for posing questions. He doesn’t say whether the questions are asked in a ‘traditional’ class or an inquiry based class. Certainly students must solve problems in both types of classes and teachers must ask questions about those problems in both types of classes. What he focuses on is how question are developed. This is an important consideration for someone who wants to get better at asking questions and I appreciate the way Dan is focusing our attention on this matter.
But then I got sidetracked in the comments. One of the commenters wrote, “I have taught in an environment of “The (standardized test) is our business, and our students’ scores are our product”and it was horrid. When I went off-script to do real-life math labs, like measuring, sectioning, and spec-ing out a new playground, the class was engaged and happy. When I was forced to go back on script by administration, they became restless and disruptive.”
At first I was, like, yeah, that is a horrible way to focus teaching, it’s good you went off script. But then the comment started to settle. Wait. You were essentially forced to teach in a way that was abhorrent to you. And your students responded with restlessness and disruption.
Somehow that resonated with an experience I had last year where I was not happy in a classroom. My students felt that and fed it back to me and soon we were in a feedback loop that created a downward spiral. It was not a great semester. So now I wonder if the commenter on Dan’s blog had spectacularly different results in student engagement because of his level of engagement.
I have often heard how the passion of a teacher for their subject can infect students in a positive way; but the flip side is also important to remember.