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Teaching is an ART. I truly believe that and it is through the slow ooze of experience, of classroom trial and error that one becomes a master teacher.

I'd like to share here, my own thoughts and ruminations on teaching, good teaching. I have many years experience and will leave some notes here for others who are following. Hopefully, after a few months, I'll collect for a nice presentation for beginning teachers.

The entries will be short, concise. Meant for others to think about , ponder and arrive at their own truth. Like a koan, like a parable, like an aphorism -- a thunderbolt of thought.


CLICK TO GET THE SHORT PRESENTATION OF THESE THOUGHTS  

 

Great for courses/teacher development and training. 

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Hey David, a simple application of your advice to "allow for space" is wait time, where a teacher deliberately waits for at least 3 seconds after asking a question... you think, 3 seconds? that isn't very long, of course I usually do that! But if you check yourself, you will be surprised! Most of us have to push through that little antsy feeling we get, oh my god, no one is responding! to get to even 3 seconds! I found it helpful at first to actually count it out in my head... one mississippi, two mississippi... and to make sure I wasn't "counting" too fast, to go to five mississippi... funny, but it worked, and there was much greater response from the students who seemed more quiet : )

Here is an easy to read article on the concept (now referred to as "think time"), and a more researchy article written for the Journal of Teacher Education by Mary Rowe, the educator who initially brought the concept of wait time to public attention. The article was written in 1986, with her original concept being published in 1972- it has been around for awhile! Both articles expand on the original concept and adapt it to more teaching situations.

It is such a simple, commonsense, and easy to implement instructional technique- everyone should be aware of it!
Ellen Pham said:
David, it is hard not to tease you on this one... no artist ever drew a great painting...quite correct! But going with your flow, many great painters could not draw*... too bad I can't remember any examples! But this info was garnered in a very reputable art history course I took many years ago.

Drawing (as in illustrating) is a simple skill to learn. The fundamental part is "seeing" what is actually there, instead of relying on the "symbol" your mind makes. For example, first try to draw an object, or reproduce a line drawing from a book. Kind of hard if you are not in practice, and you probably will be disappointed with your results. Now take the object or drawing you are trying to reproduce and turn it upside down- your results will be much more accurate. The first time you do this, it will astound you! What we "think" is there interferes with our ability to see what is "actually" there. I am sure this can be applied to life in general.

Of course there are tips, tricks and techniques that can help you- shading, perspective, and such- but the basics are there every time you pick up a pencil. Anyone that can see can learn to draw. What amazes me is when people draw out of their imagination- it is like the difference between writing non-fiction, and creating a fictional story. This probably correlates to life and teaching too... there is something more (and more difficult to grasp, hold down and identify) than the curriculum we teach in every class and lesson.

Last comment- all rules do not have to be mastered before you can start breaking them. In fact, I think we start creatively manipulating knowledge as soon as we have grasped it, probably even as we are grasping it. (You have been in Korea a long time- and I am a smart ass :D )

*hmm, this statement seems to contradict my following statement that anyone can learn to draw... ok, I guess they all could draw if they wanted to :D Not all great painters DID draw, and some felt as though they couldn't, because they didn't have me as a fourth grade teacher.

One of the most useful things I learned in a four year degree in Fine Art.
If you can't paint well. Paint big
I love it! :D

#13 -- The Whole before each hill......


When one sets out on a journey, one must know in the mind, the panorama of the journey. After that, each hill may be tackled, each curve encountered.

When teaching, begin with the whole. The music before the notes, the feeling before the canvas, the idea before the thing.
One must have a container before one may carry water.

Teach widely and then narrow in.......only then will the facts find a home to rest within.


#14 Everything is Good.

When teaching, we too often see the "can't". A student can't do this and a student can't do that.... CAN"T is not something that exists, it is a phantom, it is illegitimate. There is only CAN and the manifestation of that into the world and the classroom.

Everything is good. What we view as "bad" is only our reaction to it, not the thing itself. The universe has a reason we know not of. A master teacher keeps things positive and emphasizes what WE CAN. The energy of life is that of good and we should ask ourselves as teachers, what Socrates asked so long ago..."let no day pass without thinking of "the good". Use sugar and your students will grow fat with wisdom and intelligence. When they fall down, they will learn to fall down looking up. And if you are looking up, you can get up...... Teach with the good on your mind.
#15 - Latent structure rules obvious structure



It is by grace that knowledge and understanding are conveyed. We may "know" something in an obvious fashion but we won't understand it until we connect with it in grace, in spirit and in essence.

A wise teacher transmits knowledge invisibly. The simple act of a teacher reading alone at their desk teaches students far more about reading than any direct phonics lesson. A teacher's bright face when speaking teaches far more about mathematics than the obvious lines and signs on the board. It is by grace, by essence that all true knowledge multiplies (and all ignorance also...). Be a teacher who teaches as much "invisibly" as "obviously".

The wind is everywhere but who sees it?
Heavy, man :D (gotta tease ya a little bit, David!) You know I love these talks : )


#16 Keep balance. Too much is the same as too little.

When teaching, spend time on what works. Keep a balance between the active and the passive. Don't do too much but rather focus on the experience and the "harmony" that enables learning. The knife that finds the middle way , never hits bone and thus, never dulls. Find the spaces between your students needs and your lessons will always be sharp.
This is nice, David, and reassuring, too. Don't worry about this or that, when I am there, I will be able to sense my way through it again, everything will be ok ; )
# 17 The most important thing you'll ever say is, "I don't know".



Teachers we are told, ask and answer questions. However, the truth and knowledge stands somewhere between. There is a mystery to everything.

When you don't know - say so. It is the most glorious thing in the world, to teach your students that beyond this moment, beyond this experience, beyond this content, beyond this question and answer - there is a vast playground of unknowing which we can frolick in.

Teach - "I don't know" and you will give your students the gift of curiousity and thought.
#18 - He who know, does not know


A teacher that "knows" how to teach, does not know how to teach. All knowledge is in flux and cannot be grasped. All teachers are learners, all alive is in the process of being alive. Nothing stands still and can be seen. Each class, each day is new and must be learned again.

As the Buddha said to a follower who said they understood - "He who knows the Buddha, does not know the Buddha". Wisdom can't be pointed at or stopped. It can only be felt, tasted, touched, loved......
It's like entering into the mystery each time... and all sorts of things are there. There is such a resistance to admitting these things in the pedagogy, at least from what I've seen...it's like we talk and talk and talk and talk about teaching without ever mentioning the otherness of it.

I think if we could talk about this, teachers would feel much more secure and less alone, less pressure to always appear like an expert, if not with their students, then with their peers.

But sometimes when I talk about it, the words themselves seem to put something in there that doesn't belong. Like today, as I was teaching Chuck, I experienced worry. I noticed the feeling in me. But as soon as I say it to someone else, it develops this permanence or meaning that it did not have- it was just there, a little something to think about. Nothing to be afraid of. More like just something to notice... I noticed it and paid attention that it was there, wondered a bit, and went on. I was grateful to know it was there.

Ok, it's like when we teach, we get these little ethereal messages that come in a different way from our regular solitary thought. There's an objectivity to it and at the same time a full engagement. We are trying, and we're not alone : ).

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