Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Formula for Great Teaching

Today, in class, we discussed the difference between training and education. We concluded that training was more specific and direct. Those with this type of training do not have the ability to go beyond what they are told. It is basically the “how-to” knowledge. On the other hand, education refers to a much broader knowledge. Education allows us to go beyond the “how-to” and consider the “why”. With an education, we hopefully will have the ability to see what the underlying issues are. When thinking critically, we can define the real problems, not just solve the problems we are given.

A goal mentioned to reach by the end of university is to care more about our education and less about the training we have received. It sounds easy, but there are some major problems that arise with this notion. Throughout our training thus far in the Faculty of Education, we have been given formulas. Formulas for great teaching, formulas for lesson plans, formulas for classroom management, formulas for assessment tools, and so on. Problem = each teacher is different, each student is different, each school is different, and each class dynamic is different. It is impossible to create a formula for great teaching.

I have had personal experience with this problem throughout PSI and PSII. When beginning is PSI, it is completely understandable to provide training. Because I had never written a lesson plan or classroom management plan, it was a great idea to give examples of lesson plans and some techniques for managing a classroom. However, we should be able to adapt these training tools to suit our own needs and the needs of our students. Isn’t that the point? ... And now I rant … I had a lot of criticism from my university consultant in PSI regarding my lesson plans. He would not accept them as sufficient unless I revamped them to match his formula for doing lesson plans. It didn’t matter that his way did not work for me. I had to laugh in class today when Robert mentioned that his lesson plans are often pages long while his wife’s are written on a napkin. This doesn’t mean that one way is right and one is wrong, it just means people are different.

As beginning teachers, training is important. However, from the information we are given, we must be allowed to discover which methods works the best for us and our students. We are often told to keep our opinions to ourselves out in the field and agree and adhere to everything believed by our teacher mentors, administrators, and consultants. Although it is important to adhere to school policy and teaching beliefs, to be the best teachers we can be, we need to be able to answer the questions of why we are doing things. Is it the most beneficial way? How can we make it better?

1 comment:

  1. I have some sympathy for supervisors demanding that a particular format is used for training purposes, both to ensure that all the necessary components are covered, and to document the process. But at some point -- when one has not merely grasped the fundamentals, but incorporated them at the level of automaticity -- it necessary to refine the original format to fit one's own needs. And that is when one moves from 'trained' to 'educated'.


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