Thursday, June 22, 2006

ON TEACHING: "Reviewing the School Year -- Failures and Successes"

Failure #3
Perhaps my greatest failure this school year was my inability to be a thorough teacher. The sad fact is that I rarely taught a lesson in a careful, detailed, and comprehensive manner. I planned my lessons – or thought I did – with care, but if I could look at videotapes of almost any of my classes, it would be clear that I taught the lessons in a hasty, incomplete manner. Most of the lessons lasted perhaps ten minutes, at best – surely not enough time to communicate an idea or a skill with any thoroughness. For some reason, as the year progressed I totally forgot one of the most important goals I set last August – to teach in a careful, systematic, and exhaustive manner. Looking back, I think I know the reason for my sketchy and incomplete way of presenting lessons. I think I had my eye focused on how many other things I had to teach the kids instead of on this particular lesson. I was more interested in covering a lot of material each day than in covering a small amount in a thorough way. I got caught up in “more is better” instead of remembering the great truth that more is quite often worse, and much less.
Next year, I want to plan more carefully so that I can actually teach each lesson – present it in such a thorough way that the kids almost can’t help but learn. If it means I don’t cover as much material in a given class, so be it. A bird in the hand is worth two, or fifty, in the bush.

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