Like most of my fellow-teacher candidates, blogging was an activity that was hard to keep up with during my teaching block (or more specifically, impossible in my case). Now that I’ve finished up block one, it seems most appropriate that I use this post as an opportunity to express some important discoveries I’ve had over the past 4 weeks.
First, theory is a(n extremely) poor substitute for experience.
As much as I’ll enjoy the reprieve from the chaos of marking and lesson planning, I expect I’ll be rather skeptical of some things that I learn in teacher’s college now.
Much of what was explained, taught and ingrained into my mind over the seven weeks leading up to block 1, was completely debunked in a matter of days at my school AND what I learned that *was* useful, didn’t really sink in until I experienced why.
Second, despite the thrill of teaching and helping two classes of grade 10 science students, I found myself disappointed at the “traditional” quality of my lessons. With all that’s required of student teachers in terms of meeting the University’s lesson planning requirements, I found myself with only enough time to gather all the material together and make *a lesson.* Engagement, different activities and new tools, were something I did not have the luxury of time to consider.
What is the point of lesson planning in detail to the nth degree if it completely prevents you from making a *good* lesson?
Finally, a revelation that I think most of us always knew but never really understood in specific terms: at the STAO conference in Toronto, I was at a session on “Why Good Students Fail” (in university). Why do students who excel in high school, go to university and see their science grade drop 30-60 percent? The speaker, Dr. David C. Stone from the University of Toronto, said the difference he sees between the students who do well in university and those who don’t has next to nothing to do with their marks.
What’s really important is their study skills. The little section on report cards that gets graded with “E” for excellent, “S” for satisfactory etc., gives a true indication of a graduating student’s future, even though parents, students (and even teachers) tend not to pay it much heed. Students who can make good notes, review them, elaborate on them and summarize them are the ones who tend to have an easier time. Those who study a little bit regularly as opposed to doing a marathon over a couple days tend to have better long term recall. Being able to problem solve at a “formal operational level” (as explained by Jean Piaget) is important to succeeding in the sciences as well but even many adults never get there.
So as a teacher, while marks are why get my students *into* university, their study habits are what will take them *through* it. What I teach and assess ought to be aimed at improving these things, no?