Reflecting on NCTE

As  far as workshops and instruction, I think Kelly Gallagher’s presentation was the most meaningful and new for me. Since his session, I’ve found myself frequently referencing the “sweet spot of teaching” as he explained it and find it is my greatest challenge in teaching right now.

I do NOT want to spoon feed my students. I want them to think for themselves – that’s what I love so much about the whole student led movement.

Yet I am fully aware that I sometimes leave students confused. Sometimes this is because they are simply waiting for me to do the work for them, a strategy that has apparently been all too successful in the past (I would like to note that I believe this to be a universal problem). Other times, they are legitimately confused but do not understand either how to frame a useful question (“Uhh, I don’t get it” “What about it?” “Uhh, all of it, I guess?”) or spot their own confusion or that they do not want to or feel comfortable asking for clarification.

I think the first step that I must take to reach this elusive and ever changing sweet spot will be to have these conversations and teach/model how to understand when we are confused and what the most efficient strategies are for finding helpful answers. Lucky me, this also goes along with our regular reading strategies, though it even applies to simple tasks such as following directions!

I have to admit, since I realize that consistently teaching is at this perfect center is not sustainable or even achievable (especially for all of our various learners), I wonder if it is better to lean slightly to the too hard side rather than removing the challenge? Is this shortsighted? I fear it might be but would like to hear from other teachers on this subject!

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jenny Wood on December 10, 2009 at 2:25 am

    I think it is better to lean to the too hard side. We must push our students to achieve. We only get one chance, and we must make the most of it. I agree with what you said about modeling behaviors. We must be examples to our students of educated persons. In order to model, we must create safe classroom communities and environments in which students feel safe taking risks. I can understand why some students don’t want to take risks, and I try to create a community (hopefully) where students see me taking risks and know that I will support them as they try the same. I have read Carol Jago’s books (Beyond Excellence, With Rigor for All, and Classics in the Classroom). All of her books, I think, address this issue. They have been very helpful for me as I plan scaffolded but rigorous work for my students.

    Reply

    • Posted by mrsfollis2 on December 10, 2009 at 2:27 am

      Thanks for the comment and the book recommendations! I will put them on my list right away! I appreciate it!

      Reply

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