I have always loved eating but have recently developed a new appreciation and enthusiasm for cooking. I enjoy it much more now than I used to.
There is so much satisfaction to gain from being able to try something new without someone watching over your shoulder. And whether your endeavour is a success or an utter, complete failure or somewhere in between – you learn from the experience!
As teachers, it can be incredibly difficult to let go of some of that control in the classroom and allow students to explore and create in their own time, in their own way. It can be frustrating to watch but the student doesn’t always see it that way. That extra freedom can be one of the most worthwhile parts of their day.
Student-centred learning is central to any 21st century learning experience. In this setting, teachers take on a facilitation role where guidance, advice and feedback is essential. As a PDHPE teacher, this is also reminiscent of the importance of understanding the learning process. Whether the context is a theory lesson or a practical lesson, the process of learning remains the same.
When we talk about ‘skill acquisition’, learning is broken down into three stages:
- The cognitive stage (beginner)
- The associated stage (intermediate)
- The autonomous stage (advanced/expert)
The characteristics of the learner vary depending on the stage. Drawing a comparison in the classroom, most of my students resemble learners in the cognitive stage – lots of errors, lots of feedback, lots of practice time needed, limited success at times but plenty of learning happening. But regardless of the stage of the learner, the learning process is important.
So my main objective in my teaching and learning space must be to ensure that the learning process is activated and continuously progressing with my students. Always a battle, particularly with senior students, to avoid the pressure of that hefty syllabus and become solely content driven and too focused on INPUT. This may help me feel like I am getting through the course, but it doesn’t mean I am getting through to my students.
So for the first time ever, my senior students are developing Animotos, Prezis, Vokis and collaborative documents in class as revision tools and using Edmodo to share them. Practice exam questions are optional and also distributed via Edmodo and completed as part of a Homework Race which runs across each Term. Drafts for assessment tasks are also being submitted through the Assignment feature on Edmodo. I have never had students submit more drafts and more practice questions than through this mode.
Maintaining student engagement is always the perennial challenge but keeping this process in mind has simplified my teaching style and kept me focused on what is most important.
So what is my purpose in the classroom? To construct and provide quality FEEDBACK to every student and facilitate multiple, rich opportunities for quality OUTPUT through the development of deep, connected knowledge and authentic, meaningful learning.
And I will be able to have my cake (or soup in this case) and eat it too with the knowledge that I am trying to do more than just syllabus boxes.