Saturday, July 27, 2013

Why educators need to be students too

Being in a doctoral program is teaching me so much.  But it's not just the content of the classes that I'm learning. I'm propelled into deep reflection about teaching and learning during each class weekend.  After this weekend's marathon session of classes, I am reminded that it is vastly important for teachers to be students themselves frequently.  I need to make a strong distinction here: I am not advocating that educators be life long learners (although I do believe that this is also an essential requirement for educators); rather, educators need to be enrolled in someone else's class as a student and be in the role of the learner frequently during their career. Here's why:

As a professional educator also engaged in the role of a student, you:

* Develop empathy for your students -- you remember what it's like to learn something brand new, what it's like to feel clueless, you do everything you can to try to sit and listen with perfect behavior for 7 hours straight, remember what teamwork/collaboration feels like, recall how much you strive for a great grade but often times feel like its out of your reach (yes, tough day in my stats class!!)

* Insight deep reflection on practice --  is a traditional grading system fair, is it good enough to cover the content or do students need to learn it, how do visuals/technology/collaboration enhance learning, how do formative assessments inform instruction, how do you measure learning, what makes content memorable and meaningful

* Remain current, fresh and alive in your practice by 1) seeing the strategies another teacher employs, 2) feeling the impact of those strategies as a student and 3) importantly, taking the time to reflect on both to adjust and improve your practices

Specifically, as a student again since January, there have been several huge areas that have become of major interest to me because of my experience as a learner.  They are:
* the need for physical movement
* the importance of collaboration
* the difference that true feedback makes on understanding, learning and development
* the value of formative assessment and student input/feedback regarding instruction
* assessment and grading practices and policies (including the supreme benefit of re-do policies)

With these thoughts, and more importantly, experiences fresh on my mind, I plan to actively advocate for what's best and what's right for students with regard to these topics when we return to school in the fall.

1 comment:

Nirupama said...

It is nice to see an article dedicated to this important topic. Thank you for sharing.
POS 355 Entire Course