As a former tutor and teaching assistant for high school and college students, I quickly discovered that relying on my old formats of lecture and class discussion would not be a successful approach in engaging middle school boys. The 12-14 year-old boys engaged with material kinetically: they needed to talk and move, and it was difficult to fully engage their attention in any given task longer than 15 minutes.
I observed another teacher's class where students were working in small groups and rotating around the room as they completed their tasks, at their own pace. When this teacher and I spoke at the end of the class, she told me that she had learned to "let them do the work." It continues to be some of the best advice I have received.
I diversify the activities that make up a class period, aiming to fill a 45 minute class period with at least three distinct activities, only one of which involves me lecturing or students taking notes.
To help students study coins in a recent class, Ms. Faralli designed different stations, including: (clockwise, from left): drawing and designing their own coin; studying modern coins from different countries; and analyzing images of ancient coins. Boys also imitated the ancient minting process using clay (pictured above).
I look forward to the support and inspiration of a new group of colleagues, while gaining exposure to current topics and developments in education.
Lecturing at students does not constitute learning. Only by engaging them as active participants in their education can students derive meaning from the experience. I diversify the activities that make up a class period, aiming to fill a 45 minute class period with at least three distinct activities, only one of which involves me lecturing or students taking notes. We incorporate movement whenever we can and use games to practice new vocabulary or grammar skills. I have learned to embrace how a seemingly chaotic, kinetic classroom can actually be quite orderly, create more impactful content, and improve the learning experience.
Conversations with my colleagues have often refocused and re-energized my efforts in the classroom, which is why I am so thrilled to be a part of The Klingenstein Center's Summer Institute for Early Career Teachers this summer. The program provides the opportunity to spend two weeks surrounded by faculty in their first few years of teaching, while developing curriculum with the guidance of professors who are among the best in the field. I look forward to the support and inspiration of a new group of colleagues, while gaining exposure to current topics and developments in education.
- The Big Room Blog