Wednesday, December 8, 2010

10 Minutes of Bliss -- for the Effective Teacher

What makes you feel like an effective teacher?  What is it about where you work -- or how you work -- that makes you effective?

I often feel effective as a teacher at Science Leadership Academy (SLA)  because of my working conditions. I have a lot of bright and thoughtful colleagues, well-organized classroom resources (paper, printers, markers, warmth, lab materials, etc.), energetic and curious students, and a supportive administration. I have opportunities to collaborate with colleagues and co-plan curriculum, programs, and our professional development. All of these wonderful elements create a platform for consistent effectiveness, whether over a 9-week period, or within a short 10 minutes. Below is an example of 10 minutes that were especially productive.

Earlier this quarter, I worked with "KM," one of our 9th grade science students who hasn't had a lot of experience with writing or organizing. By using a collaboratively-developed lab proposal process, KM has been able to develop his exciting ideas about science, and then make them more concrete through structured coaching, encouragement, and direct experience in the lab. KM has been able to identify and describe an unexplained event, develop a hypothesis and procedures, and then experiment to find out more about his questions.

The 10-minutes I spent with KM in September carried him through October and November. Each time that I've worked with KM since September, his inquiry has become deeper and his knowledge is more thorough. KM now visits my classroom during his free period to work with other 9th graders.  KM could have easily become frustrated and lost in the mix, but because of his persistence and my availability, he is engaged and enthusiastic about learning.

These 10 minutes have been so effective because of the explicit commitment from colleagues within the science division to develop a common language around lab proposals (and lab write-ups). Our discussions and deliberations over the last few years have really helped me to refine and enrich my understandings about what student need in relation to the philosophy and process of science. The professional collaboration at SLA has provided the context and support for me to be more effective.  It's also nice to have a functioning lab -- with running water(!) -- that is attached to the traditional classroom space.

So what makes you feel like an effective teacher?  What is it about where you work -- or how you work -- that makes you effective?

No comments:

Post a Comment