A student came in late to my class today. She has been late multiple times. In fact, she is usually late and she usually does not look happy when she gets here. From the expression on her face I imagine that she often feels this way, at least in school.
I have dealt with late students in a variety of manners over the years trying to find the best method to get them here on time. I have played the bad cop, called home, sent them to the office, gave them heat myself. I have ignored it in hopes that the student’s marks will motivate them to get to class earlier.
Be happy! It is contagious and will create a far better environment in your classroom for all.
There are so many great teaching theories and cutting edge technologies in education today that a teacher can't help but feel a little lost. I am certainly a proponent of the learning theory of constructivism. This is a theory that supports the idea that students learn effectively and efficiently when they construct their own knowledge of a topic through interaction with peers and by fitting together new knowledge with their own previous knowledge.
This can be a challenge for the history teacher. Too often we are teaching themes, events, and stories from the past to which the students have no previous background knowledge. If you try and tackle a theme in history – be it oppression, power, or privilege – without providing enough background to the story itself then students are going to struggle to connect to their past.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Stonehenge for the first time in my life about two weeks ago. I was told many things by many people with the general consensus being "its not as impressive when you see it for real." I admit that we all have different reactions to such things but for me seeing it up close and for real was incredible
First piece of advice I have for anyone going - get there right at opening. You beat the crowds and have a chance to see the marvel with just a handful of early risers.
For thousands of years humans have been gazing at these stones with awe and wonder. For many, there is a spiritual significance here and what is most interesting is that that is most likely why this place was constructed. We connect to our ancestors in the distant past through the land itself and how we interact with it. The druids did not build this place - a common misconception - as they lived thousands of years after it was built but they most likely would have revered it as well. I imagine many of them would have looked at it and thought the same thing..."WTF?! how did they build this?"
If you ever have an opportunity as a teacher to take your class on a field trip to such a place do it without hesitation. You can never duplicate in your class what it is like to actually be there.
Don't read the PowerPoint!! We have all sat through lectures where a teacher or professor stands at the front of the room and reads the presentation slide-by-slide. Nothing is more draining as a student. Now I know as a new teacher with a new subject it can be hard not to do such a thing. To put it simply, we are given too much to do and not enough time to do it. As a history teacher I fall under the Social Studies umbrella which means I have taught everything under that umbrella - geography, child studies, law - never mind that I have never taken any of those courses in my life. Ah well...what we all do as new teachers.
Now that I am teaching what I have a background in my lessons are far stronger. But it still takes hours to craft these presentations in an engaging manner for students to get out of them what they need. As teaching professionals we are well versed in the theory of multiple-intelligences. When done well these presentations will connect with a variety of students with different learning styles.
The linguistics intelligence minded student will learn from the notes taken from the lesson and reading them back afterwards as well as the discussions in class.
The logical-mathematics intelligence minded student understand the chronology of the story that is being presented. One event causing another through a chain of events.
The visual-spatial intelligence minded student will take in the images, maps, diagrams, and videos from the lesson and understand better as a result .
The naturalistic intelligence minded student will understand the geography of the region from the videos and maps and will understand why the individuals made their decisions.
The interpersonal intelligence minded student will learn best from the conversation generated between students and with the teacher during the presentation.
The Interpersonal Intelligence minded student will learn best from the time given to reflect on questions given as part of the lesson.
All of these combined will help the students understand the fundamentals of the lesson. With that said, the key component is the teacher. Take the time to know the lesson, read the history, and make your own connections. That way you will be able to stand at the front of the room and tell the story rather than read the points of information. Those points can guide you but as the teacher you can make it more interesting.
Don't read the PowerPoint!! But knowing that I have done it myself in the past with other lessons I know what a relief it can be when you have nothing for the next day and then you find the material you need. Better to read it than to have nothing.
The environment is one of the most critical aspects of my teaching. I have come to the conclusion years ago that one of the best ways I can engage my students is to create an environment that the students want to be in. This includes my behaviour, how I greet them when they come into the class and interact with them throughout the class. It includes how I greet that habitually late and/or absent student. Do I give them heat for being late yet again or do I go out of my way to make them feel welcome and that I’m happy to see them? I often think that the habitually late and/or absent student has enough going on in his or her life and that I might “get more bees with honey than vinegar” as it were.
My name is Niall MacLeod and this will be the beginning of my blog. And that is possibly the driest start there has been to a blog - I will get better. This is an excellent time in my career to begin this as I have taken the semester off from teaching to begin a Masters of Educational Technology from the University of British Columbia. Here I will write about my lessons, my experiences in the classroom, and comment on any and all things education in the coming weeks and months. I'm hoping to make some good connections that will help me in my career and my Masters. Cheers :)