Thursday 25 April 2013

Thinking Out Quiet

Someone recently posted a tweet that said something like "Just because we teach it, doesn't mean they learn it."  I read it quickly, went "huh" and moved on.  But it has stuck with me.  It is so true and yet seems to go against what we, as teachers, do every day.  We teach, we question, we guide to help our students learn.  But some of them don't, despite our best efforts.

I have been thinking about one student in particular.  C is a good student.  She pays attention in class, participates, answers questions, asks when she doesn't understand, comes in for extra help but still doesn't seem to be learning what I'm trying to teach her.  And I'm sure she is not the only on.

Perhaps in my 19th year of teaching it should not be a revelation to me that my students aren't all understanding the material.  It's not really, I have always known that.  But something about that statement has really struck me.  Why is it that some students just don't get it?  And how can I change that?  How do I explain finding the equation of a line in a different way that will make that light bulb go on?  I ask a lot of questions, take kids back to where they understood and walk them through the next steps to get where we need to be.  But then the next day, they are back where they were so they clearly did not truly understand it.

I guess there are two parts to this.  The first is knowing who doesn't understand.  Enter formative assessment, which I value greatly.  But then after spending 1-on-1 time with a student and having them say "I get it", sometimes they still don't.  Then what?  I try again, but I feel like I'm the one who is missing something.

I'm pretty sure there is no magic answer here.  But I will keep reflecting and trying new strategies.  'Cause I certainly never stop learning - every day the "finish line" moves further ahead!

About the title of this post... My introverted nature means that I don't tend to "think out loud" - thinking quietly to myself is what I do.  A lot.  But I am trying to share, as you see, although I push publish and then assume that no one will read this. 

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