I am consistently in awe of distinguished teachers who understand that students are not empty vessels to be filled with their words of wisdom. My daughter recently informed me that her peers frequently criticize her Honors Biology teacher because she “doesn’t really teach.” I asked what she meant by that, “So what happens during class … you all sit around and look at each other?”
“No, no … she sets up an experiment or gives us a question and then we work on it. She’s just there.”
Of course this opened the door to a wonderful conversation with my kid about the nature of teaching. Is it a traditional model of the talking head, blah-blah-blah-ing in front of the class while kids write down information that must be regurgitated on a test later? Or is it someone who facilitates learning experiences that encourage thinking, analyzing, and decision-making?
As always, when evaluating teachers, it’s critically important to find out what’s going on from the students. They can (almost) always tell you what they are DOING, but rarely can they tell you what they are LEARNING.
And seriously … math teachers … check out Dan Meyer’s “What Can You Do With This?” He’s brilliantly remaking the curriculum – why not check it out?