Tag Archives: teacher

Relationships and learning

Since I came across this image in a tweet, I’ve been trying to decide whether or not I agree with the quote, “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.”

I agree with the @teachergoals that relationships must be encouraged and maintained. I suspect the intent of the quote is to encourage teachers to interact with their students as people instead of as rectangles on a seating chart, which is a worthwhile aim.

What I’m not so sure about is the meaning of a “significant relationship” in the educational context.  (I’m sure, however, it’s not the meaning we occasionally hear about on TV newscasts, in which one of the parties wears a bright orange jumpsuit.)

Who are the parties to a significant relationship in which learning occurs?

In what way(s) must the relationship be significant to impact learning?

Do the learning and the relationship have to occur contemporaneously?

If all significant learning requires “a significant relationship,” is turning students into lifelong learners a pipe dream?

And, last but not least, I wonder if I the only person in the world whose most significant learning came from books?


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Filed under Lifelong learning, Teachers

Learning from my students

Caution sign
In education circles, it’s fashionable to blog about learning from one’s students. Not to be left out—and because it’s April 1 when a certain amount of foolishness is acceptable—I will share insights my college students have generously shared with me.

One student told me that “a bird in the hand is worth two of George Bush.” That’s an insight you can take to the voting booth.

Another student cautioned me not to “burn my bridges at both ends.” Even burning them at one end could be a serious let down.

A third student said his wife ended up in the emergency room “every time she eats pees.” I am now very careful to avoid consuming pees.

And one student shared a piece of autobiography that explained something I’d never understood. The student said she had just gotten her GED and had decided to go on for her Ph.D. because she “only needed two more letters.” That was a light bulb moment for me. I finally understood why some folks consider an Ed.D. and easier degree than the Ph.D.: Once you have a GED, to get an Ed.D. you need only one more letter.

Photo credit: “Caution!” Uploaded by ugaldew http://www.sxc.hu/photo/506099

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Classroom tech rant and wishlist

A discussion on the Foreign Language Teaching Forum about what one could do with Google docs prompted a thoughtful and funny piece by Margaret Kohler, who teaches elementary and middle school French at West Side Montessori Center in Toledo, Ohio. Below, with her permission, are her thoughts on what would help her teach well with technology.

I’m sick of all the new technology being thrown around and thinking, “Holy Toledo Mud Hens! Am I supposed to use all this? Why? When? How? Good gracious I’m behind the curve!” I mean, technology is only ONE of the many things we have to think about to be good teachers, right?

In a word:
Classroom tech rant and wishlist
It’s like a techno-avalanche. Last year I revved up my technology use so my students would be “Prepared for the Future” and because I figured it “Had to be Better” and mostly what I got out of it was headaches. Things that didn’t work. Things that disappointed. Things that had to be updated—right in the middle of class! Things requiring an add-on. Things needing more bandwidth. Streaming issues. Things that I had to get permission for. Broken links. Things that worked differently on different computers. Kids losing passwords. And the worst: things the kids didn’t know how to use yet so I used foreign language class time to teach them technology.Ugh, I learned my lesson. I’m grabbing the few golden nuggets that were home runs, and keeping them. The rest:forgetaboutit.

On the other hand, for example, my school is now moving to a “Google platform” or “Google environment” or we are getting Googlized, whatever, and the kids are going to have accounts, so naturally I think: ok, how can I take advantage of this? What in the functionality of this thing might benefit me/my students?

I want to know a little of what it CAN do because I am curious. I suppose I could just give the technology teacher a list of things I’d like to improve, and have her figure out what she’s got in her bag of tricks that can help me, but I want to be a partner in it because I know my classes best. There might be something it can do that I didn’t even realize could be useful. And if the whole school is using it, chances are I won’t have as many irritating little issues because it will be meticulously maintained for everyone, and the kids will already know how to use it.

It would be cool if someone would summarize the technologies out there being used for foreign language right now and what the practical uses of each are. What each techo-thing “does better” for foreign language learning and why. In r-e-a-l-l-y simple language. (Comprehensible input, please.) Sort of like the miscositas site but more comprehensive and for like 5th grade reading level.

What I especially want to know is HOW something has improved student learning outcomes (tell your story.) Or HOW it has saved time. And then some really smart person could make a decision tree to help teachers choose the right technology for their actual needs. (And update this information daily on a free website, just because they are nice!!) But I think the reality is a lot of teachers are just faced with their school getting a certain platform or technology, and trying to sift through it and find what in that can be of use.

So I visualize a two-way street: Start from where you are at: think of your needs and look for the best ways (tech & non-tech) to fill them.

At the same time, jump in the techo waters and just swim around really nonchalant, being aware of what’s out there without feeling pressured to catch every new fish in the sea. It’s hard when really smart-looking people say: “YOU should be using glibbitmeister! It’s the social networking/techno-learning tool of the century! It revolutionized my life!It’s more useful than the invention of toilet paper! I’m giving it to all my grandchildren this year!”

I believe I have gotten past that starry-eyed stage now and am wiser and more judicious (if not slightly cynical) about technology. I haven’t made friends with it yet, but maybe that’s in the future.

The wonderful tech person at school listened to my technology rant recently and just chuckled and said, “pick one or two things each year you think could be most helpful and don’t worry about the rest.” I love her!

Has anyone else gone through this? Maybe everybody already knows all this, and if so, sorry for the long post.

Anyway, thanks for explaining Google docs! I was hoping someone would tell me what it does!

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Filed under Educational technology

Good grammar question, good teacher

Mindy, a  fifth grade teacher from Ohio, shares her triumphs and challenges today in the teaching grammar forum.

She reports good success with a technique for finding sentence fragments that I picked up from linguist Rei Noguchi’s book Grammar and the Teaching of Writing: Limits and Possibilities. Teaching students to find and repair run-together sentences is proving far more  challenging for her.

I was impressed with Mindy’s clear description of her problem. She explained what happens in a way that made me see the interaction.

I also liked the fact that Mindy wants her students to be able to correct their own writing without her help or prompting. To me, enabling students to get along without a teacher is central to the teacher’s mission.

Perhaps more impressive is the fact that a few weeks from the end of the school year, this teacher hasn’t slacked off on teaching. She’s still trying to find ways to help her students learn the material she knows is important.

Mindy and other dedicated teachers deserve a round of applause—and a pay raise.

[2/26/2014 removed links to content no longer available. 1/31/2016 removed link to content no longer available.]

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Filed under Language & literacy