I don’t want to get up and move around when I’m meant to learn. I don’t need exciting visuals or a printout of the presentation to help me engage in a lesson. A good hook for me is a simple introduction. I learn best when there is a speaker at the front of the room lecturing and I have a pen and paper with me.
When I teach, this is how I like to teach. I tend to stand at the front of the room, lecture, and make quick notes on the whiteboard behind me. Unfortunately, most of my students don’t learn (best) this way. This is my default. This is most certainly not theirs.
What can I do? How can I engage my students by adapting to their learning styles when I don’t know how to learn the way that they do?
All of my students are smart and they should be able to adapt to my teaching style. After all, when they hit the real world, they are going to have to change to fit in. The real world isn’t going to change for them, even if they manage to change it.
Truth be told, I’m not a very engaging speaker. My delivery has precluded me from a career in comedy. I accept interruptions as a normal part of dialogue. I don’t command attention simply by being present. Respect, to me, doesn’t look like a bunch of students sitting quietly while I drone on; that’s discipline. But, I can talk endlessly. And, well, I almost do.
I have so much to say that I started a blog. Don’t let the infrequent updates fool you, I also have journals full of
reflective writing. And, I carry a pen and pencil in my pocket at all times.
How come I have only come to realize this now?
Well, it’s something I’ve known about my teaching style for a while. I remember mentioning it at an interview once, before acknowledging that I’m working on developing new strategies. Now, a few years after that interview, I’m realizing that not much has changed.
Ultimately, I think it boils down to the sense of control I have when I’m at the board and talking. I know what my students need to learn because I’ve read the curriculum. I can be sure that I’ve “taught” my students what I am expected to if my “lecture” is in my day plans. I can convey the information in a manner that makes sense to me so I’m clear about what I’m saying.
But, this needs to change. I need to read textbooks on the importance and value of ditching textbooks. I need to find creative ways to tap into my students’ creativity and curiosity. I need to listen to my students more carefully so that I can really hear what they are saying. I need to lose control so that my students can become better agents of their own learning.