Moving towards Authenticity Working Portfolio - Rob Heinrichs March 2012
Teaching like any truly human activity emerges from ones inwardnessfor better or worse. As I teach I project the condition of my soulonto my students my subject and our way of being together. Theentanglements I experience in the classroom are often no more orless than the convolutions of my inner life. Viewed from this angleteaching holds a mirror to the soul. If I am willing to look in thatmirror and not run from what I see I have a chance to gain self-knowledge and knowing myself is as crucial to good teaching asknowing my students and my subject. - Parker Palmer
I am learning how critically important knowing my students is to teaching them well.
I have always believed this, but I am only now truly understanding how I cando this effectively. By trying to meet the different learning needs of mystudents more effectively in math, what I realized is that to do that I need toknow where they are, how they learn and what motivates them. Once I got abetter handle on that, I was much more effective in guiding their learning. Assessment and feedback where huge parts of this understanding. Movingaround the room, observing and interacting with them was the mostimportant strategy that I used. I moved from mostly standing at the front tojoining them in their learning.
Research educational theories and philosophies to inform your use oftechnology in the classroom. I want to become much more grounded inmy understanding of differentiated instruction so that I can better meetthe learning needs of my students, particularly in mathematics. As wellI want to understand how I can better use digital tools to differentiateeffectively.
ISTE NETS 2C: To customize and personalize learning activities toaddress students’ diverse learning styles, working strategies and abilitiesusing digital tools and resources. I want to research digital tools that canhelp me to better differentiate my math instruction.
Inquiry Project1. Start with the learning outcomes.2. Design my math lessons to incorporate two differentiation strategies: open questions & parallel tasks. (Marian Small, Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate)3. Assess frequently so that I know where all students are. This included using a variety of different assessment strategies, but critically important was to circulate around the room asking questions, and differentiating on the go.4. Encourage students to try different ways to learn and explore.5. Develop my class website so that it incorporates different activities and learning tools to enhance what is done in class.
So what I am ﬁnding now is that I can design a lessonthat allows me much more time to circulate andcheck in with students. I have a much betterunderstanding of where each student is at, as well asbeing able to support those that need help andchallenge those that need it. I am able to “mirco-differentiate” or differentiate on the ﬂy.I no longer stick to the textbook and work througheach lesson. I may use questions from the book, orexamples from it, but I don’t rely on it. I use openquestions that focus on the skill or concept that Iwant the students to learn. An open question is onethat students at various levels can work on and bechallenged by. Coming up with these question isperhaps the hardest part of teaching this way, but themore questions I create, the easier it seems to be tocreate them.I hope that I am better meeting the needs of mystudents. It seems to me that I am. It feels like I am. Iguess I need some data that supports the changes Ihave made?
Where to now?I want to take what I have learned in during this inquiry and apply it tothe rest of my practice. I want to have a clear idea of where I amgoing. I want to design lessons so that all students can enter into them.I want teaching and learning to be terms that apply to all members ofthe learning community. I want it to start tomorrow.
The more I learn about teaching, the more I understand how complicateit is & how purposeful I must be.
Working with this TPACK model highlighted the emphasis on thedifferent knowledges that I need to teach todays learner. Yet theknowledges that I need are much more diverse than Technology,Pedagogy and Content. I really need to have knowledge of myselfand what I believe, and that needs to be clear and well thoughtout. I also need to know my students. Not just what they know, orhow they learn, but also to know who I am teaching. There are somany different variables to teaching well, and I feel like I am just atthe tip of the iceberg.
Teachers, like the conductor,are trying to weave life intotheir lessons. Encouragingthe student to care aboutwhat they are learning. Encouraging them to learnwith, not just to learn what.Moving them to see beyondthem selves. We cannot dothis without teaching fromwho we are and knowingwhom we teach.
If I were to redesign the TPACKframework I would draw it withintwo circles. The inner circlewould be self, the teacher’sknowledge of themselves. Theouter circle would be knowledgeof the community of learners, theteachers understanding of whothey are teaching. Perhaps that iswhat Koehler and Mishra labelcontext?
In fact, the more I learn abouttechnology, teaching and learning, themore I believe that we need toensure that technology is used in waysthat enhance our core beliefs, nothinder them.
Where to now?I want to be much more thoughtful in how I design my lessons, takingTPACK into consideration. I need to be purposeful, remembering touse the technology that best ﬁts my content and pedagogy. I also needto stay true to my core beliefs.
Teaching, like any truly human activity, emerges from one’sinwardness, for better or worse. As I teach, I project thecondition of my soul onto my students, my subject, and ourway of being together. The entanglements I experience in theclassroom are often no more or less than the convolutions ofmy inner life. Viewed from this angle, teaching holds a mirrorto the soul. If I am willing to look in that mirror, and not runfrom what I see, I have a chance to gain self-knowledge —and knowing myself is as crucial to good teaching as knowingmy students and my subject. - Parker Palmer
I think there is a lot of value in struggle. Infact, most of the time, I think it if it is easy tolearn something, it may not have been worthlearning. If it didn’t take a lot of effort or anystruggle, perhaps there wasn’t much learningat all. At the very least the learning was notvery deep.I want my students to see the struggle as achallenge. I want to spend my time helpingthem struggle. Providing the right amount ofsupport so that they don’t feel like they areincapable of learning, but not so much thatthey feel like the learning is easy.
With learning at the centre ofthe environment, all are able tomake contributions. Bothstudents and teachers can shiftbetween many roles, includingcoach, guide, learner, teacher,partner and helper.
Where to now?I want to teach in a way that clearly reﬂects who I am and mybeliefs. I want to be authentic. I want to continue to close the“Knowing / Doing Gap.” I have begun to do this through inquiry. Mymath instruction is clearly more in line with my beliefs than it wasprior to this inquiry project.I have also entered into conversations with my administrator aboutdeveloping a team that does learning in different ways. A team thatencourages curiosity, that does not shy away from struggle, thatencourages deep learning and student independence andinterdependence.
Bright futures lie before you. Theres the worlds work to be done, andthere are never enough citizens with determined hearts, courageouscharacter, intelligent minds, and idealistic souls to do it. Yes, our worldalready has quite enough guns, political platitudes, arrogance,disingenuousness, self-interest, snobbishness, superﬁciality, war and thecertainty that God is on our side. But it never has enough conscience,nor enough tolerance, idealism, justice, compassion, wisdom, humility,self-sacriﬁce for the greater good, integrity, courtesy, poetry, laughter,and generosity of substance and spirit. It is these elements that I urgeyou to carry into your careers, and remember that the great game oflife is not about money; it is about doing your best to build the worldanew. - John Bogle