Friday, October 12, 2018

Reconsidering Learning Styles in Light of Research

Ah, Learning Styles...

This is one of those topics I have to approach with grace and truth, because there was a significant chunk of my own teaching practice in K-12 where I emphasized the idea that different students learn differently, and that we should tailor our teaching based on these learning styles.

And appealing as that idea is...the research just doesn't bear it out.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Aiming for Messy?

I follow an Instagram account called TeachersThings that often has funny or inspiring posts for those who serve as educators. This morning in my Instafeed, I saw this one:

A screenshot from TeachersThings on Instragram.

My immediate reaction was, "YES!"

But the more I thought about this, I'm not so sure that is the right response.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Homework Is Broken...But We Can Fix It!

This past week I had the privilege of presenting at the Heartland Christian Teachers' Convention. It's a group of some 500+ teachers from Christian schools in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Nebraska, and they gather on the Dordt College campus each October for a few days for professional development and mutual encouragement. It was always something I looked forward to in my years teaching in K-12 in Iowa, and since joining the faculty at Dordt seven years ago, I still regularly attend. While I was in grad school, I took a few years off from presenting, but this year, the planning committee asked, and I agreed.

My topic? Homework, of course! Over the past few years, I've blogged a fair amount in response to my research on the topic of homework. (If you'd like to read, here's over a dozen posts for your consideration...) I've had many K-12 teachers mention to me over the years that they would like me to meet with their faculty and share this research. So I figured it's still a hot enough topic that I might have things to share.

I knew I would have about 60 people coming to my session, which I ambitiously titled "Homework is Broken...But We Can Fix It!" I decided I would begin by surveying them--just to get a handle on who was in the room, and their initial beliefs about homework.

You, like me, might find these results interesting...

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

I Just Love Being a Teacher!

You know what? I love being a teacher. Seriously, I love it!

My bio on our institution's website even starts off this way: "I love to teach! ..." I figure I might as well let people know right from the get-go. I believe I'm called to this work, and that I've been equipped for it, and as a vocation teaching gives me deep joy.

Don't get me wrong...there are definitely joys and concerns. There are very real challenges in this profession. And the demands and expectations always seem to be growing, year-by-year. But overall, the joys outweigh the concerns, for me at least.

Sometimes I need a reminder about this though. I have my moments when the work starts to pile up, and the meetings start adding up, and the stack of things to read starts towering...and the distraction of this gets to me.

And then, somehow, I always seem to get a moment of encouragement, a word from a student, an affirmation from a colleague, something that reminds me, "I get to do this!"

I had one of those moments recently. I was up to my eyebrows in the thick of planning and grading and keeping up with email, and--honestly--losing some of the joy that I typically feel in my work.

I took a Twitter break.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

How to Learn from a Textbook

I'm thinking today about textbooks.

Probably this is because today I gave my Middle School Curriculum & Instruction students an assignment to review curriculum materials. It might also be because I have a textbook that I love that I'm using for teaching World Regional Geography. Okay, and it might also be because I was helping one of my kids take reading notes on a textbook-based reading assignment tonight.

Textbooks are a really great resource for teachers. I remember feeling as an undergraduate Education major a sense of pressure that if I ever relied on a textbook I would somehow be failing my students. But I've definitely come around: textbooks can be an extremely helpful resource to support teaching.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Getting Derailed (So Will I)

Nothing too profound to share here today. My school year is off and running--I have one class section I haven't met up with yet, but that will happen tomorrow morning. All is humming along well so far! I posted this on Instagram yesterday, truly reflecting on how well things have started off for me this year...

I was not expecting my day today--despite all the good things happening as the new school year was beginning--to get derailed.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Power of Looking Silly (and Not Caring that You Do)

Today is my 21st first day of school as a teacher.

This is the first time--to my memory--that I didn't have the back-to-school nightmares. I mentioned this to my wife this morning, and she (jokingly) said that means that things will go awful today. (She was joking...but we'll see, I guess. Not that I'm superstitious or anything...)

The truth is, I do worry about my teaching practice. I want to be the best that I can be! I want my students to learn, and to even enjoy my classes. And, seriously, I want to enjoy my classes too. And I usually do, even though I recognize my tendencies toward worrying.

And it's in those worrying times that I sometimes need some encouragement, some recognition that I'm doing all right.