Tuesday, 13 October 2015

“learning can-and often does-occur without teaching, but teaching cannot occur without learning; teaching without learning is just talking (Barkley, 2010, p. 16).

Objective: “learning can-and often does-occur without teaching, but teaching cannot occur without learning; teaching without learning is just talking (Barkley, 2010, p. 16).

Reflective: This quote got me thinking and evaluating my own teaching style, asking myself the tough question, “are my students learning from me? Or am I just talking?”. How can I get my students learning more, by not teaching? Am I really an effective teacher? The students are able to regurgitate the information I give them and they can apply it short term, but can they retain it long after the testing is finished? Are they able to derive any meaning from my lessons? Does it interest them? How can I do better? What should I be ‘teaching’ and what should I not be?

Interpretive: I have to say it was a bit of an awakening for me. I have been teaching full time for 4 years now and I have been a very ‘hands on’ kind of teacher, delivering the content, providing exams, lab stations, group assignments, “active learning” (Barkley, 2010, p. 16) etc. etc, but now I feel that perhaps I was still too ‘hands on’, that I haven’t been as good at letting the students explore more on their own as I thought. Perhaps my instructions which I considered quite liberal, were still too constrictive, influential, guiding, biased and if I am going to give the students the best learning opportunities, I need to be less ‘hands on’. The quote’s suggestion to me that I need to ‘give less for the student to get more’, sounds counter to everything I know and do. This concept of ‘teaching less’ was revisited again on page 22, when it recommended, teachers should present less information and the students should be doing more of the work (Barkley, 2010, p. 23).

While many have said the like, Leonard Roy Frank said “Wise teachers create an environment that encourages students to teach themselves” (Google Images, no date).
 While the quote may be self-explanatory, the application of this theory will take a bit of practice.

Decisional: My goal has always been to be the best teacher I can be, to accommodate all the learning styles, leaving no one behind. I know this is ridiculous, but it is what motivates me. I want to do what is best for the students, which I always felt meant to be present and hands on, however the more I learn, the most effective teachers are those that give the students more ‘thinking room’. Though ‘flow’ and direction is necessary (Barkley, 2010, p. 14), I will be less directional in my instructions from now on, I will do less ‘micro-managing’ thus allowing the students to explore new ideas freely. I understand that the freedom of exploring new ideas, without my influence will make this a better learning experience for the student. If learning is not taking place, I am not really teaching, I am just talking (Barkley, 2010). I will need to learn more about the balancing of when to instruct and when to just observe. When a student can make sense of the learning and create their own meaning through less restrictions of direction, the likelihood of retention is increased, which is ultimately the goal. (Barkley, 2010, p. 23).

Barkley, E. F. (2010). Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San
     Fransisco: Jossey-Bass.

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