Monday, September 8, 2014

What I Think I Know... What I Puzzle Over... and What I would Like to Explore

Today's "think piece" is a grid.  Down one side is "What I Know", "What I Don't Know", and "What I would Like to Know".  The top of the grid are the following categories:  "About Learning", "About Teaching", and "About Contexts for Learning".  Before I get started on this exercise, as the title of this post suggests, I'm actually changing the wording to David Perkin's thinking routine of think-puzzle-explore because learning begins with what I think I know.  

What I think I know about learning
I think we are all life-long learners.  The adage, "you learn something new everyday", is absolutely true if you're open to that idea.

I think we need guidance to learn how to learn efficiently.  The last class I took, Learning How to Learn, dove into this into great detail.  I highly recommend this to teachers as it helped me shape my own teaching practices to better help my students learn their material.

I think that everyone has a different learning style and speed at which they learn material.  As teachers, I believe it's important to take this into account even though this can be challenging in a a room of 20 - 30 students (or more!)

What I puzzle about with learning
I puzzle over why some people have a "head for" a particular topic while other's don't.  For example, some people are math whizzes and others can barely balance their checkbook.  I know it's possible to re-train your brain, but I wonder why our initial blank slates are so different.

What I would like to explore about learning
I would really love to dig into the various learning styles and see how I can leverage them better with my students.  I've learned many tricks along the way that other voice and chorus teachers use.  Each time I learn a new one, I'm always amazed at what a difference it makes for a particular student and/or issue.  

I would also love to explore gamification of learning.  My daughter takes classes through Minecraft Homeschool.  She is currently enrolled in a writing class through them.  She's also learned history, art, and science through their service.   She's having so much fun that she doesn't realize she's learning it -- and she retains so much!  I know there is a ton of research in this field and as an avid gamer, I'm fascinated by the concept (and wish I had this kind of thing when I was a kid!)

What I think I know about teaching
Speaking of what some people have a "head for", I think that anyone can teach, but you really need to have a "head for" it to be a great teacher.  I believe intuition and the ability to quickly read people are necessary skills that are difficult to teach.  I also think that do the job well, you need an inordinate amount of patience.

I think that you cannot teach in a vacuum.  You need the support of your peers and outside resources.  I find this to be true in both my voice studio and with homeschooling.  I have several peers in both arenas that I frequently bounce ideas around with.  They're a great source of inspiration and ideas.

What I puzzle about with teaching
I puzzle over whether I'm doing it right.  I'm a self-taught teacher.  I have never taken a formal education class before this summer.  While I'm not a self-taught musician, I do not hold a degree there either, so I often feel the imposter syndrome creeping in there as well.

What I would like to explore about teaching
I would like to explore how to read a room.  I'm great in a one-on-one setting and with a chorus, but often times, I'm challenged to gauge an entire class at once. I believe I probably just need more practice, but I would like to see what kinds of tips and tricks are out there.

What I think I know about contexts for learning
I think that to truly learn something well, it should be across contexts.  It's one thing to be able to do an algebra problem in math class.  It's an entirely different matter to understand how to use that same algebra concept to tackle a physics problem.  With my homeschooling co-op, I rarely teach a study group that's truly a single-subject.  I teach math and science using cooking or, we create art using math.  

What I puzzle about contexts for learning
I puzzle over how to better create that cross-context learning experience.  Some things naturally go together, but I am often times in awe of other homeschooling families who can make a unit study about a particular topic or theme cover four or five subjects at once.

What I would like to explore about contexts for learning
I would like to dive into what I'm puzzling about.  I think having this ability to tie together several seemingly unrelated ideas under one thematic umbrella would be incredibly helpful.  The older my daughter gets, the less necessary this becomes, but as a teacher at the co-op, this is a skill that will prove useful for many years to come.

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