Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Ladies and gentlemen...wait..I take that back. It should be everybody, each, or all of you. Otherwise, you won't pay attention, according to the indispensable training I received yesterday.

It's also important to tell students to close their eyes and imagine things, to promote "covert" learning. I once taught a college writing class next door to a teacher who was forever making the students close their eyes and touch hands. Within a week, half of his class transferred into mine.

But I digress. When you teach, think "IRAQ."---that's Information, Response by students with feedback, Activities, and Questions. Then don't forget "TEMP"---that's Time, Expectations, Materials and Proximity. Without IRAQ and TEMP, you will be lost.

Also, don't ask individual students questions anymore. That's ping-pong, and that's bad. Instead, ask "everybody." Have them put their thumbs up for yes, down for no, and pointed sideways if they don't know. That way you'll be able to guage the understanding of the entire class.

You're assuming, of course, that all kids answer honestly, which every teacher knows they invariably do. So if they all say "thumbs-up," they understand, and you need not review anymore. (Review is bad.) If your question is not of the "yes-no" variety, I suppose they'll have to put those thumbs elsewhere.

Finally, have the students ask each other questions. That's volleyball, and that's good. They will surely benefit from the trust you place in them. They're young adults, eager to learn, and they must express themselves whenever they feel like it. They know where to steer the conversation. You, on the other hand, are incapable of independent judgment and need to be instructed how to do everything.

And you'd better get it right, because if you get it wrong we'll set you up with a mentor, who will not review (that's bad), but reinforce (that's good).

Thank goodness the city spends millions on these activities rather than squandering tax funds on useless frivolities like good teachers and small classes.
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