Nowadays, we call it direct instruction. There are times when we need to interact with the material at hand, engage our students in examining ideas carefully, and use skillful questioning to tease out the ideas we know students have but may be afraid to express. That’s why the art of teaching is such a beautiful experience to witness, as we allow chances in a safe and caring environment. In doing so, we create opportunities that allow thinkers to intersect content and action. That process of moving two aspects of teaching together is a rare talent, and requires giving up power and embracing uncertainty.
In contrast, there are many places where pseudo-direct instruction is going on. In this model, we tell kids what they are to know, often through powerpoint lectures, and then we create quizzes to check for their understanding on our positions. We do not allow questions, or struggle, or dissent. This is not Socratic dialogue, but behaviorist theory disguised as a tech integration, where we place ourselves in the role of all-knowing expert.
I know from personal experience that is is easy to slip into the latter mode early in your career. But even if you don’t, there are parallels in the two scenarios. One classroom. One teacher. Lots of students. It’s the status quo to see these in schools across the nationl.
Neither is sufficient. Why? Because they are islands, and that’s not enough in today’s world.
It’s to see another classroom on a parallel plane to you. Both educators are moving forward, teaching similar content, but it’s as if they are a set of rails on a train track, never intersecting. Onward it goes, never moving beyond the door of the classroom or the textbook solution. Based on what we know about the power of the interwoven web, it’s a ridiculous notion that we continue to teach in isolation, using techniques that lack relevancy and real audiences. Maybe we should, instead, lean in, and start making intersecting, or even tangential circles with others in our building, with others in our state, with others in our world.
That’s why Connected Educator Month is so important. Here in October, look forward towards solutions and ideas for changing worlds. We build connections and new ideas.
How will you and another teacher share your knowledge, skills and students to help each other learn in our connected world? Like the beauty of the circles of Apollonius, the idea is out there, waiting for the evidence and proof that it can be done.