Thursday, September 18, 2014

Day 18: A Teacher is a _______.

Day 18 of the Reflective Teaching Challenge
Create a metaphor/simile/analogy that describes your teaching philosophy. For example, "a teacher is a ________…”

I've already shared with the community my analogy for teaching. I like to think of a teacher as a guide of some sort. We are all on the hike together. I can name some interesting features and give my hikers some guidance on how to avoid fatigue, move in the right direction, and enjoy the experience, but they have to do the work--they burn the (mental) calories, use a map, and note what they see that is interesting.

As a guide, I do have responsibilities: I need to have a route that is navigable and at the appropriate skill level. I need to be attentive to their needs and give individual feedback when necessary to intervene when someone might be getting off track. I also need to keep my skills up, which is why blogging challenges like these are so great.

How might this manifest in a composition class? Most teachers have been inundated (I hope!) with strategies for effective teaching. We need a plan, to know what the class goals/outcomes are. This is manifest in a good calendar and well-crafted assignments (where are we going this time?). We need guidelines on how to behave in the classroom and standards for completing work (a map!). Readings aren't given just for fun; they're well-chosen as model texts. The instructor does modeling, demonstration, allowing for lots of questions before turning the students loose on their creative, analytical journey (group work, individual writing activities, lab exercises, etc). I think an instructor should make it clear that they are alongside the student at all steps, providing encouraging feedback and clarification.

What a warm and fuzzy analogy. It's a little unlike me! :-)

1 comment:

Henry Aronson said...

Warm and fuzzy is where it's at. We came to this profession because we love our discipline and we want our students to share the love. And the guide metaphor is apt. We variously lead AND walk at the side of our student, eventually releasing so they don't need us.