Second Week Reflections
I just finished mapping out my first week of school! I am feeling quite accomplished and happy. This is a wholly different feeling than I have had beginning other school years. I am much more calm and confident. Well…for now at least.
A couple of years ago I learned I am a person/teacher who has to start projects/lessons/planning long before most people. It isn’t to show other people up but rather the process I have to go through to feel ready. Sussing out every detail is a time-consuming process for me and in teaching, the devils are most certainly in the details. It pains me so much to hear big wig business people or non educators pontificate about how anybody can be a teacher. I don’t doubt that with the proper training and practice anyone could be a teacher but it is an art and a science.
It requires a person to think big picture but break it down, to consider the impact of a certain teaching move, to consider what questions to ask to illicit a certain response, when to ask them, how to ask them, how to read a group, how to get to know kids, how to revise a lesson mid stream, how to know when to scrape one altogether all while trying to stay calm and collected. It is, at best, a hell of a job.
This second week of professional development highlighted a lot of the aforementioned skills that a person needs in order to teach. This week it became crystal clear to me that either I am an overachiever or that I had the luxury of very good pre-service teacher education and professional development. The idea of planning procedures and lessons appears to be a rather new concept to a lot of the Costa Rican teachers here. Whereas for me these things are old hat. My mind has been throughly blown that some of them had never even seen a lesson plan template. 0_O
This has me thinking a lot about how in the States we compare how our students do on standardized tests to those from other countries. Supposedly the kids from the States are big failures compared to the rest of the world. But I’d like to counter that with an observation. It may be that our students do not compare with students around the world because we don’t teach them the same way. It seems silly to say that because shouldn’t it be obvious?!
I’ve thought this before, but it really brings home the idea, now that I am seeing the level of training that teachers have here. The public school system here is all rote learning. Teachers hold all the knowledge and dispense it to the students.
The public school system in the States, from my experience, is anything but. We are pushing out students to think hard, to analyze, draw conclusions and independently problem solve. In essence, we are teaching our kids to be thinkers. Unfortunately as NCLB has gained a foothold in the public school psyche, are we also producing more rote learners? What are the implications of rote learning vs. learning to think? Feels like comparing apples to oranges.
Although I may have been bored out of my ever-loving mind (this teacher makes the worst student!), I am really curious to see how or if with new ideas about learning/new tools my Costa Rican colleagues will or will not change.