As many of my friends know, I love fitness. I did an aerobics class that left me talking to myself. The instructor is extremely fit and loves fitness but …. The class was so chaotic that I felt like I had been on the spin cycle of a washing machine – running this and that way, twirling every which way. What is so frustrating is that the instructor has been given so much feedback on her class — stop all of dashing about because no one can follow you. But she has not heeded any of the advice. This experience with the aerobics class is so much like teaching. Even if you know your subject well, you have to set up the class so that the students can follow your direction and then actually apply what they are learning. Being attentive to learners to ensure that they thrive should be uppermost in the teacher’s approach. Whether it is a fitness class or a grade one reading class or a high school physics class or a literacy methods course in teacher education, students should not leave the session frustrated. Aerobics is hard. Learning is hard. Teachers need to focus on the students whatever the context. And my aerobics instructor should be mindful of the participants. We got up early on a weekend to do a workout (and in Toronto it was mighty cold this morning) so we were all keen to do a workout. What more could a teacher want? This might be something for policy-makers to consider. Engaging the learner should be the first priority! Teacher knowledge of content is important but there is so much more to teaching. Clare
This is the 20th anniversary of my book club. Yes we have been together for 20 years. We had an anniversary party and had cupcakes! (Much more on my book club in future posts.) I think there have been two essential ingredients for the success of the book club: our sense of community and our engagement with books. I am coding transcripts of our literacy/English teacher educators and a number note that their student teachers do not like to read. I have found in my research on student teachers that many stated that they had loved reading in elementary (primary) school but by the time they got to secondary school, there was so much prescribed reading (usually textbooks) that they had no time to read for pleasure and in turn, lost their love of reading. This pattern continued throughout their university years. In my literacy courses in the preservice program I talk a lot about engagement with text and the importance of pleasure og reading. Perhaps, we need to take some lessons from book clubs to ensure that our students do not lose their love of reading — community of readers and joy. I think that it is very hard to be a literacy/English teacher if you do not like to read and do not find reading as engaging.