It was one of the “standards” the university harped on during my teaching certification classes. I found it hard to imagine that any of my classmates, all of whom had worked in jobs or corporate America, needed to be taught how to evaluate their performance in the classroom and then make adjustments when necessary. It’s what we did in business every day!
And just like at work, adjustments in education are always necessary.
The subject matter remains pretty consistent, but every year it’s a new bunch of students. I always say it’s a lot like the movie “Ground Hog Day.” Different kids, but same teen drama; relationship issues, teen angst, apathetic attitudes, bad hair days, you name it. But as the years go by I still constantly reflect on my classroom. I look at what worked or didn’t work and try to decide how to do it better.
I don’t do it alone. The week or two leading up to the holiday break has always been a great time to meet with colleagues — current and former — to discuss what they’re experience and share ideas. Yes, we share many shake-my-head stories, too, but there’s plenty of “what would you do?” moments to learn from.
As teachers we are life-long learners, and we practice what we preach. But this concept of life-long learning seems lost on most of my students. They fail to grasp the idea that learning is cumulative, that what they learned in my room yesterday, last week, last month, last year, is constantly applicable in the current lesson. And because I teach graphic design, what they learn in photography and illustration can also be used in my class. Yet they seem to walk in each day with a Tabula Rasa and struggle with step-by-step instructions!
I do have a small percentage of students who do well in my program because they want to actually work in the industry and/or study the trade after high school. I can challenge these students with different projects to reinforce their skills, and they’ll take pride in doing their best and getting better.
The rest of my students are more challenging. Many are either avoiding their neighborhood high school (for safety reasons, to avoid bullying, etc.) and/or academics (at my high school they’re in academic classes for half of the year and vocational ed the other half). They have no idea what they want to do… and they don’t want to think about it. And that’s OK. It’s difficult for a mid-teenager (and most people) to make life career choices.
So, I reflect on what I can do to help these students. What can I offer them — since they aren’t interested in graphic design — that will, at least, help them to eventually find some direction. Before you say “why can’t they take a different class?” just know that’s not always an option (I’ll explain that in another blog). I have them and they don’t want to be there, so we have to figure out how to make it productive.
And that’s how I’ll spend part of my holiday break. I’ll try to figure out how to conduct classes over the next six months in a manner that students learn something (even if it’s against their will) and keeps them from playing video games (while I’m helping those who care).
Merry Christmas to everyone. And I hope 2019 is a happy, healthy and prosperous year for you and your families.
Thanks to SlideSharedotnet for the post image.