As one going into education, many times I have thought about what I can do to improve it, what I can do become a good teacher, and really try to expand my knowledge the best I can. I read something today that opened my eyes into a whole new perspective on learning about being a successful educator. That something was 9 Elephants in the Classroom That Should Unsettle Us. In the beginning of this piece of writing, Will Richardson talks about how he has noticed that everyone in the education world that he has come across “elephants” in the classroom. By this he is meaning something that they know isn’t working or is not right, but they don’t talk about it and it’s not acknowledged. The more I thought about it, the more it makes sense.
Have you ever thought about teachers knowing exactly how the students feel in school, or have a pretty good idea? Looking back to grade school and high school to the days that I felt dragged on forever and the lack of “real life” knowledge that was present during all of those 13 years, makes me really wonder how it would be different if one teacher stood up and acknowledged how they knew us students felt. I feel that I probably would have been a little more prepared for my future that’s for sure! Now I am not saying I had a bad education growing up because I didn’t. I just feel that my teachers did what every other teacher is supposed too; do what they are told and do not change the curriculum.
I decided to choose the three elephants that stuck out to me the most and talk a little bit about them. These three consist of:
- We know that most of our students will forget most of the content that they “learn” in school.
- We know that we’re not assessing many of the things that really matter for future success.
- We know that most of our students are bored and disengaged in school.
It is easy for me to say now, “Well these all make sense we should do something about them right away and fix them.” I don’t think it would be that easy if I was in a teacher’s position, because to be honest I am not a very outspoken person! First off what I think needs to happen is that all school staff should be aware of these elephants, so that they are finally said and brought to the table. Then it is up to the teachers to decide how they are going to turn them around and eliminate them from the list.
As a teacher, what I would do for #1 is try to really put a focus on memorization and understanding with the material that I would be teaching. Many times I see teachers trying to rush through the material just to get it done before the end of the year. I would try to combine lessons so that I could have more time to direct the students into slowing the pace down so they can spend more time on a certain topic. I would also try to make the material more memorable! Create an experiment out of it, take them outside, anything to get them up and moving. For the next elephant I chose, I would really try to relate anything I could academically to real life situations. Students are going to be faced with adult life whether they like it or not. It is CRUCIAL that they are exposed to life scenerios and learn habits that they will need to use when they are on their own. Lastly for number 3, I would bring excitement into the classroom, make sure to make use of brain breaks, and really get to know my students and their personality.
It is easy for me to say all of this because I have not been exposed to the real classroom yet. That is why I am trying to prepare myself now so that I can be as ready and educated as possible when it comes my time to teach!