Monday, June 24, 2013

Learning and Doing "The Stuff"

As you know, last year I embarked on this new adventure of teaching first graders in our public school system. That adventure has included being a student as well as a teacher. I'm in a graduate school program at a local university - that's part of getting my full teaching license.

Being a teacher and a student at the same time can be challenging; but it also has its advantages. Taking university classes as an "older" adult is also different from taking them as a young adult freshman. My perspective on some of the assignments is definitely different.

A few months ago, I was working on a research paper. In the midst of all the reading and jotting notes, the organizing and observing, I had a sudden thought.
I like learning. I just don't like doing all the "stuff" that goes with it.
 I immediately stopping what I was doing and thought about that. I do like learning. I love to read and discover. I like to ponder and think about things. When I hear an innovative idea, I enjoy thinking about how that applies to what I'm doing. I reflect and wonder - jumping off that new (at least to me) idea and its implications. But I don't really enjoy pulling all that together into a coherent form to submit to someone else. And what if my reflections don't add up to the page count? What if I need to add extra stuff just to fulfill the assignment? (Stuff that isn't really a product of my learning, just extra pertinent stuff)

And then my reflection jumped back to my own classroom. Are my kids like this? Most--if not all--of my students like to discover and learn new things. I can sense their excitement when we do something different or they encounter a new idea. But how many of them are losing that excitement as they face doing the "stuff" to show their learning? I'm not sure what this exactly means in my classroom. I don't have a list of great points to put in this blog post. But I know that I need think about this and examine it. How can I keep the excitement of learning and discovery as well as monitor and assess it?

I learned something else through thinking about that research paper. The "stuff" is an important part of the learning process. I did remember more and apply it better by having to write that paper. But maybe I would have learned and applied as much by doing a different sort of project - a presentation or a mind map or something. Hmm. This is continuing to give me more food for reflection.

Bottom line: doing the "stuff" isn't the learning part - it's just a step (and maybe not the final step).

1 comment:

  1. Just stumbled across your blog tonight. I completely understand what you mean about showing your learning. It's one of the things that puts me off going back to school for additional qualifications, and it's something that I think about when I'm teaching. A lot of my assessments ends up being photographs of my kids engaging in activities to show their understanding, rather than having them documenting everything through writing because that puts some of them off. I'd be interested to see what else you do to help your kids show their learning.