Teaching can be very satisfying, but it isn’t easy. I (Clive) just received my course evaluation for last term and was reminded that “you can’t win them all.” I thought the course was my best ever, and most students rated it as “excellent.” But some just said it was “very good” (hmmm – why was that?) and one gave it a “good” or “moderate” on every item (what’s their problem?!).
One of the most important principles in teaching, I think, is that you can’t win them all. Some people don’t like it because it implies you aren’t going to try hard enough: it lets you off the hook. But on the one hand, it helps you be realistic and maintain your morale as a teacher; and on the other, it reminds you that everybody’s different. Different people want different things from a course and have different views on how to teach. Yes we should try to meet every student’s needs in a course, but no we shouldn’t be surprised or become dispirited when some students are not ecstatic about our teaching approach.
But come to think of it, if I found some good videos and varied the class format more, maybe I would get excellent from everyone…. Just joking!
Writing blog posts is one of my most favourite things to do. I (Yiola) do not think I’m an entirely seasoned blogger but with time, practice, and learning I hope to become good at it one day. Why? Well, as an academic one of my goals is to share what I study and what I know with others. One way I do this is through my teaching. I am a teacher educator. My goals as a teacher educator are to prepare pre-service teachers to become excellent teachers by thinking about what they teach, how they teach and most importantly who they teach. I am also a writer — but a very particular kind of writer. I have been taught to write in academic prose for journal articles and book chapters. Sometimes our articles and books are read by others in the field. But… blogging… this is an entirely different genre and such a wonderful way to network and meet amazing people – some directly in the same field and others in slightly different but related fields – while sharing knowledge and information. Since writing on the academic / teaching blog I have met wonderful people and learned many things and taken away wonderful ideas. Let me share an example based on something that happened recently.
Some time ago I posted a blog about creativity in teacher education. Here is the link below:
Last week I received an email from a person who is in the field of creativity who has also done some good work in the area. This person shared their insights on what I had written and provided supportive feedback and then also shared their work with me. What a delightful process! I am now sharing their work with you. The following link leads to a list of ways to infuse creativity into the classroom. I reviewed the link and like it for several reasons: 1. It’s foundations and theoretical underpinnings are closely linked to the work I shared with my student teachers in our classes on creativity 2. The list is very easy to view and accessible 3. I found the list inspiring and doable — so yes! I will now proceed to share this link with my student teachers and friends.
This is but one example of how blogging in academia and in teacher education serves such good purpose. Yet another example of how digital technology and literacy work hand in hand to foster communication and learning. I am delighted when I receive messages with feedback, interest, and sharing. Looking forward to more connections and learning through this medium.
At last someone has linked the problems of inappropriate use of testing in education with those of the prestigious profession of medicine. Robert Wachter, Professor of Medicine at UCSF, has written a book titled The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age in which he argues that measurement has gotten out of hand. In a New York Times article “How Measurement Fails Us” (Sunday Review, Jan 17, 2016, p. 5) he states:
“Two of the most vital industries, health care and education, have become increasingly subjected to metrics and measurements. Of course, we need to hold professionals accountable. But the focus on numbers has gone too far.”
In the article Wachter notes that “burnout rates for doctors top 50 percent” and he says recent research has shown that “the electronic health record was a dominant culprit.” He then draws a parallel with teaching.
“Education is experiencing its own version of measurement fatigue. Educators complain that the focus on student test performance comes at the expense of learning.”
Wachter maintains that what is needed is “thoughtful and limited assessment.” “Measurement cannot go away, but it needs to be scaled back and allowed to mature. We need more targeted measures, ones that have been vetted to ensure that they really matter.” We also need to take account of the harm excessive measurement does. Again he compares the two professions: research has shown that
“In medicine, doctors no longer made eye contact with patients as they clicked away. In education, even parents who favored more testing around Common Core standards worried about the damaging influence of all the exams.”
With this welcome support, we in education need to consider how we can keep measurement within limits and focused on key matters, so it does not undermine our profession. When is measurement useful, and when does it do more harm than good?
This week I (Clare) attended the Parent Research Night at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Studies (where I am the Director). It was a truly amazing evening because the two presentations demonstrated research that was for teachers and parents, done by teachers, and inspired by teachers. It was such a beautiful form of dissemination of research. The findings are not confined to a peer-reviewed article but were shared with the public.
Dr. Patricia Ganea talked about the importance of shared reading with children. And she shared data on how children respond to images in children’s books – realistic (photos) vs fantastical (comic-like). Interestingly they relate much more to the latter.
Then Dr. Yiola Cleovoulou and 3 teachers (Zoe Honahue, Cindy Halewood, and Chriss Bogert – who is now the VP) from the Lab School presented on their work with the children that was framed by critical literacy with an inquiry focus. They shared student work, read transcripts of actual conversations, and described activism work.
JICS has a tripartite mission: Lab school, teacher education program, and a research centre. Parent Research night truly brought all three together. http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/ics/index.html
The CBC reported that this past weekend the Toronto Reference Library unveiled book printing machine which allows individuals to walk away with store-quality books. As of now, authors can print 10 copies of their books (150 pgs) for $145. A bit pricey in my opinion, but definitely unique with a lot of great potential for students, writers, educators, etc. CBC reports that “What’s new is the ability to self-publish books – whether your own piece of literature, a cook book, dissertation or whatever you choose for a relatively.” The Toronto Reference Library will soon be offering courses on how to best format books for professional looking books.
Read CBC article here: