I am substitute teaching this week. Sixth-graders. I haven’t taught sixth-grade in quite a while.
But after two days, I remember now. The curiosity, the energy, the silliness. That I would arrive home every evening and say, “I love sixth-graders.”
And my dad would say, “You’re lucky. Not many people get up every day to go to work and say they love their job.”
He was right.
Are you someone who likes to ponder? Think about both sides of an issue? Wonder why something has occurred? Don’t we all?
Then why don’t we ask this of our students? Why do we tend toward direct instruction so much of the time? True, if learning content is our goal, direct instruction is faster, more efficient. But if we want to help students become thinkers, independent learners, and creative participants in society, then asking questions is a better model.
Ewan McIntosh shares his thoughts on a system, where “content isn’t king” but students are encouraged to “interact around content.”
To me, effective teaching and learning comes down to asking the right questions. I read a post on The Eloquent Woman this morning, which listed suggested questions for good panel members. These same questions are great places to start with students:
How is this like?
How is this different?
What makes you wonder?
Learners must know how to think and reflect, and for teachers it starts with the right questions.
Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.Voltaire
image credit: by Oberazzi
I must be ADHD. Really.
Today, during my first day back at school, I rearranged the furniture instead of cleaning off the bookshelves; played with my new HP mini when I should be have been organizing my files; ate some Gummi Bears; cut through the library to go copy something and ended up talking about the Tech 6 class with a colleague; raced out to buy a wireless printer (on a whim) and spent three unsuccessful hours trying to get it on our network; forgot I brought lunch and drove to WaWa for a chicken salad sandwich and some more Gummi Bears; decided to talk to HR about changing my direct deposit when I haven’t even set up the new account with my bank; and cut out letters for my bulletin board display when I had promised to help teachers login to the ning for our discussion tomorrow.
Please. My room looks like the streets after the Running of the Bulls, without the injured bodies. And I have so much yet to do.
Tomorrow we’ll be in meetings most of the day, so I need to get my act together. Focus. Focus. Focus.
But despite the frantic pace, I love the first days. Anticipating the best year ever. Hoping to create the kind of classroom community that nurtures the desire to learn, create, and share. Another chance.
A few more Gummi Bears, and I’ll be ready.