modeling and muddling do not make good teaching

School conferences were last night.

It is rarely, OK never, that I find myself walking away from a teacher thinking "OMG that woman is an idiot."

Oh heck, I didn't even have to say it, Bob said it. Right before he said, "call the counselor and get her out of that class."

I asked the woman many of the same questions that I asked other teachers last night about where things were posted in the room and what to expect on homework so that we could monitor from home and support classroom learning.

She could not answer a single question about how she teaches.

I don't think she knows.

She tried to tell me she uses an inquiry model. OK, I understand that so I ask about her checks for understanding. She looks at me blankly. Apparently she just throws out an experiment, and afterwards the kids discuss it and then she tests them. I can find and print every worksheet that she uses straight off the internet.

No wonder my daughter said, "I don't know if I learned anything in there all last semester." That is a pretty strong statement from a teen.

We were trying to learn how to monitor our daughter's work to know when she needed to get additional help. Generally there is a period of instruction and/or inquiry followed by a check for understanding and then reteaching if necessary. We were trying to learn what to look for to monitor this check for understanding before assessment. All teachers I know can tell you this point, they use it to assess instruction and differentiate instruction.

And in the least, they can tell you what concepts or standards were not learned by reviewing the assessments.

She could not even tell us what concepts she was currently teaching.

The counselor told me that this teacher uses the ASU Modeling method of teaching. However, the teacher could not tell me this or explain it. This type of teaching takes significant training and practice to do well. The method is a highly effective hands on method, however it is just that - a method, not a curriculum.

And students need to understand the method and the expectations. Learning is not something that happens TO a student by accident, they must be engaged and active participants. Part of that participation is understanding the methodology.


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