My Own Slice of Life on Learning How to be a Better Teacher
I’ve learned lots about teaching sitting in undergraduate and graduate classrooms. I’ve learned by researching and reading about best practices. I’ve learned by watching other teachers in action. I’ve learned how to be better from my students. I’ve also learned new teaching techniques from a few of my favorites…
When my niece was about three years old she started saying “Whatchu think?” after she shared every one of her very imaginative ideas. We would ask her to finish her dinner and she would suggest that she only eat five more bites instead and then would look at us very seriously and ask “Whatchu think?” It was adorable and humorous and it was hard not to smile and agree with her suggestion. This phrase was usually used to get an extra cookie or delay bedtime and most of the time it worked. Because she said it so much, everyone in my family started saying it back to her. Every time I had an idea I would turn to her and say “Whatchu think?” It seemed to carry over into my classroom. I would give directions for an activity and then I would follow up with “Whatchu think?” and the kids in my class started answering me! They started sharing what they thought and countering my directions with their own ideas about how to approach their learning. Discussions were breaking out in my kindergarten classroom about how my students prefer to learn. It was so enlightening and I owed my new learning to my three year old niece.
A new teaching strategy implemented and effective and I didn’t learn it in a book, in a college classroom, or in a professional development seminar. I learned it sitting across the kitchen table from my niece and sitting in a rocking chair in front of my kindergartners. I have to say, those are some of my favorite teachers and they sure did teach me a lot.