Today I got two comments within minutes of each other that seem inextricably linked.
Of course. The students who want to learn are easy. They don’t need teachers, they just need a good text book and enough quiet time to figure it out for themselves. The whole reason we teach is because of those students who don’t take to it naturally. But I think part of the reason it’s so tough is because somewhere the system tells us that
Movies and TV are recorded and directed under controlled conditions. Every factor is known or predictable when going onto a set. […] Reducing lesson plans to beats, if it succeeds, will be a limited success.
Maybe the reason kids aren’t interested in learning is because we, as teachers, don’t care to think about beats, about how a lesson ties together, what drives it forward, how it builds and then resolves tension, leaving enough of a cliffhanger to make them come back the next day and pick up where it left off. I’m not talking about a story (though a good one may be useful). I’m talking about how we structure our communications to have a purpose that may tease with the eventual goal, but never leave any doubt that there is a goal, and that it is worth the process to get there.
I’m still a rookie.
I get it wrong a lot. More often than I get it right, even.
But there are days when the lesson is on, when it’s going to work, when every kid in the class will fall over themselves to explain to me how they solved something that they figured out for themselves that I didn’t even hint at a solution for. And those days happen with purpose – I know they’re coming before I get in the car to go to work. I know how each part of the lesson will connect – I know how those who get it will deal with those didn’t catch it yet, and how I can use that dissonance to drive the whole thing forward. Right now I like the metaphor of beats. On another day, I might compare it to a dance, where I lead so gently that they don’t know what they’re following. Or I may find some other metaphor. The point is, there are very few kids who are interested in nothing at all, and there is no rule that we as teachers need to stick with complete and utter boring crap.