Unit Reflection- McCain


1. We must resist the temptation to "tell."

Resisting the temptation to tell students the answers to questions and they way you feel about certain topics is very important. We need to believe in students and support their knowledge and learning based off of what they know. We need to know each student to support their learning, not spoon feed them the answers. In the math unit I am working on, I have many story problems at math stations that allow students to support each other and problem solve together to find answers. They do not need to hear the answer from me.

2. We must stop teaching decontextualized content.

Students need to be connected to their work. While there are some skills that are memorized and are necessary for further learning, we must relate content to the information students are learning in class. The more relatable the material, the higher the interest level. If we as teachers cannot answer WHY we are teaching something, we must reconsider WHAT we are teaching.

"To convince a learner's brain to persist with that objective, teachers need to be more mindful of helping students establish meaning (Sousa,2001, pg. 49)

3. We must stop giving students the final product of our thinking.

As we create our lessons, we must prepare a wide variety of questions to ask students. We must also leave space for students to answer their own questions. The final product of student led learning always amazes me. They learn collaboration and leadership skills that they wouldn't have learned if I told them what I need them to know and how to get there. It is a process we need to leave open for them to create.

4. We must make a fundamental shift- problems first, teaching second.

Reflecting on this point, it will always make me think of a question my whole class was asked in a high school philosophy class. The question was something like this, "If your loved one (husband, wife, parent, child, sibling) was dying of an illness, and you knew there was a medicine that could cure it. You do not have the amount of money needed for the medicine, but you know where it is and could steal it. What is morally correct, saving a life, or not stealing?"

The amount of conversation that this topic create was amazing. The class connected at a different level, we had passion behind our research, and we learned critical thinking skills without being told that was the outcome that we were suppose to reach. This is a prime example of putting a problem first and teach within or after the students lead their own passion and desire to learn.

5. We must progressively withdraw from helping students.

Connecting this to my current teaching situation, I find this to be a very difficult task when it comes to different aspects of teaching. When a child in Middle School is having trouble with their locker combination in the third month of the school year, there are times I would love to just open it for them. I feel like I am HELPING them get to class on time and HELPING them relieve stress. I also understand that I am not supporting their independence and problem solving skills. If I was not their for a day and no one was there for them in the hallway, what will they do now? I have to teach skills for longevity and independence and not help them every step of the way.

6. We must reevaluate evaluation.

The disscussion we had in our class on November 4th was really motivating for me. I have an image in my mind of evaluation of daily work and projects. I do not want to rush my students learning. They all have a different rate of learning as well as a different zone of proximal development. If we ask students to finish a worksheet every night on material they have mastered or material they have no comprehension of, we are not doing our jobs. This is not measuring our students abilities. We need to assess students on if a concept has been met, which means we need to support them in the process. While daily work and projects can pile up on students, this is not supporting their success in learning. It may actually be negatively impacting their learning. This creates stress and students will have less ability to focus on the concept and more on completion of work.