Saturday, May 17, 2014

Coursera MOOC on Coaching - Week 3

As I move into the materials for Week 3 of the MOOC, I decided to use a slightly different protocol for reflecting on the ideas.  First of all, I do want to say that the handout provided for this week's module is one that I would have loved to have had as a first year teacher.  It gives very clear instructions for what we used to call "the craft of the classroom" which many new teachers struggle with.  However having moved out of the state education system in England, I find that some of the idea that were presented this week are less relevant to inquiry or project based constructivist classrooms.  The protocol I am going to use to think about this week's module is the 4As (Agree, Aspire to, Ask, Argue with).  In fact I'm only going to use 3 of these As.

Agree - here are some of the statements that I generally agree with:

  • The bottom line in teaching is outputs, not inputs. The most important measure of whether you did a good job is what your kids can do as a result of having been in your class.
  • A teacher's job is to increase student learning in the most efficient way possible.
Ask - here are some statements that I need to think about some more or maybe get other participants' opinions of in the discussion forums:

  •  A teacher's job is to create a classroom environment that maximizes opportunities for students to get practice and feedback.  I'm not sure about this because I think one of the most important jobs of a teacher is to set up conditions for students' independent inquiries.  
  • Teaching is about being as invisible as possible - again I'm not sure about this.  I do agree that the teacher should be the guide on the side, but I find it hard to think that the feedback that teachers need to give to students can be done invisibly.
  • There was a quote by Daniel Willingham “Memory is the residue of thought.” In other words, what students are thinking about in your lesson is what they’re going to remember.  I don't really agree with this because I think remembering is simply a lower order thinking skill and that we want to aim higher.  Understanding can come through application, analysis, synthesis and so on.  I'm also wondering how things like creativity and innovation fit in with this.
Argue with:
  • We firmly believe that the teacher needs to know exactly what will be learned, for each student, before each lesson.   I don't agree with this because I think one of the jobs of teachers is to ask powerful questions and to set up powerful provocations and that the teacher may not actually know the direction the students are going to go as they reflect on the questions and provocations.  I think inquiry should look different in each classroom and for each student.  
I'm interested to know how these develop further in the Week 3 discussions.

Original artwork by an ASB student

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