During my winter at the south pole, some friends of mine were working on a multi-layered research project using a number of related instruments. In order to make the most of their time there, and the considerable expense and logistical hassle of getting and being down there to collect this data, they were milking every drop of knowledge from their dataset. They liked to compare it to using the whole animal, not just eating the choice meat and discarding the rest. Even that scrap of sinew can be used for something.
This is how I feel about teaching. I want to grapple with the whole animal, and I want to learn from everything I do. I want to keep seeing my mistakes as learning opportunities, and keep remembering that this whole endeavor is for the students. My rudder is my students’ learning, and I want everything I do to be focused on that anchor.
I am ambitious: I am starting my first teaching job in a week, but that’s no reason to shy away from doing (attempting to do) the right thing. For me, right now, that right thing has three main components:
- using a student centered teaching approach (modeling approach in physics, project-based learning in environmental science),
- using standards based grading, and
- establishing a climate of trust and relationship in my classroom.
I plan to use this blog to ruminate on some of these, mostly the grading and the modeling, both of which are new to me (both as a teacher and as a student), so they feel a bit strange in my mouth still. Yes, I drank the kool-aid somewhere between earning my teaching license and getting my first job. I’m going to go bite off more than I can chew, and try to digest it here.