As we embark on this “Midterm” week, I am faced with students who are performing well, who could perform better, and who are currently under performing. At this point in the semester, I tend to evaluate my students grades, my performance in the classroom, and any other factors that might be helpful or hinder the process. I have come up with two lessons I have learned from this time of reflection.
Lesson 1: Learning styles and the maturity of the student.
I believe it is important to understand and teach to a variety of learning styles. I find that some students with hate group work while others believe it is the only way they truly learn. I am ok with that and I teach using a variety of different methods in my courses. However, I have encountered a new dynamic in teaching…Teaching students how to mature intellectually in their junior and senior year of college. I find that many students get stuck in the “Dualism” stage and never mature past memorizing facts, taking notes, and “studying for the test”.
Learning styles are a great way to start evaluating your teaching, but the bigger question is … is your teaching style maturing your students’ learning on the comprehension and critical thinking levels.
This is a struggle for me right now, because it seems that my students are fighting my attempts to help mature them in learning the material on a deeper level. Give them a multiple choice question and they can answer it. Give them the same question in a short essay response… they freeze up and don’t know how to express their “memorized” knowledge using a real life example. They experience a disconnect from the knowledge/comprehension level to application level.
I know this is “growing” pains. I know it is part of the process. I know I can continue to do more essay practice questions & open discussion. It’s a painful process at this point in the semester (for me and for them). But this is what I believe is important for them.
Blooms Taxonomy of Cognitive Levels would say that my F’s are at the knowledge stage, C’s & D’s are at the Comprehension stage, and the A’s and B’s are at the Application stage.
Lesson 2: The perfect teacher syndrome
It is imperative that we focus on meeting the needs of our students. I believe that we can learn from each interaction within each course and develop teaching strategies specific to the class. However, I do not believe that we can become the perfect teacher for every student. For example, I have done several group discussion activities. Half the class loves it and the other half is irritated at this type of learning process. I change it up the next time and another (different type) of complaint is given. You cant please everyone, but I do believe that you can be aware and evaluate each situation.
I have reflected on what qualities that help me be a better teacher, or those qualities I admire in other people. I believe a level of each of these attributes are needed to be the ideal teacher.
- Maturity is needed as a teacher to endure the ebbs and flows of the classroom.
- Humility is needed to be willing to change or accept something is not working.
- Caring is needed in order to want to meet student needs.
- Effort is needed to try new assignments.
- Passion is needed to stay interested in what you are teaching.
- Patience is needed to give any change an opportunity to be effective.
- Confidence is needed to be an effective leader.