The challenges I experienced were a direct result of overthinking. I made everything more complex than necessary, spent hours searching out best practices and ideas that would make for an amazing lesson, repeatedly revising as I designed tasks. However, Pinterest worthy learning activities did not translate into engaged students, or allow for student voice to be heard.
How could I, someone with 20 years educational experience, make such a rookie mistake? The answer was simple: I was a “new” old teacher.
Fortunately I was surrounded by talented teachers and unofficial mentors who shared something I knew all along, yet for unknown reasons had filed away: discover students’ interests. What motivated them, excited them, and what did they want to learn? I started talking with them, not to them. They told me they wanted to learn about dinosaurs, butterflies, growing things, and books. So we explored and kept communicating to maintain interest and excitement. One day, students found a large pumpkin on the floor. There was a buzz in the room as they explored and exclaimed their findings. This led to questions about vegetables, seasons, harvest, life cycles, bats, farmers, and more.
I learned with them when they demonstrated their understanding of tasks in unique ways. In discussions, the students’ reflections and curious questions resulted in a deeper reflection and introspection of my teaching, making me reevaluate my teaching philosophy in action.
What did I learn? By building a positive reciprocal relationship, my students began to trust, listen, and finally learn from me - the "new" old teacher.
Nabeela Cokar (@BeelaC), eternal optimist, is a cheesecake loving shopaholic with an addiction to all things sparkly. She loves traveling and thinks she’s a writer.