Teacher MOT: Creating a curriculum for learners (full article)
20 April 2009Add to My Folder
Reflect on and revisit your teaching methods to help maintain an effective, exciting curriculum
Reflecting on your practice will help you to become a better teacher
Teaching is an art and a science, – as well as an adventure. Doing it well takes time and thought, and the thrill of the job is that every year that we do it, we should see improvement in our game. This new ‘Teacher MOT’ series aims to unpack the stuff of teaching and learning, prompting reflective practitioners to have another look at this amazing job we do. This first article looks at the basic task of taking the content of a curriculum and readying it for learners.
Liven up the subject knowledge
At the heart of a good lesson there will be an element of effective subject delivery and there are a few principles that can enrich this crucial element. To some extent, effective subject delivery comes down to having a good filing system to keep all your useful stuff. My lesson on the news is greatly enriched by a folder of ghoulish, garish and weird newspaper cuttings. Tell your friends that you’re building up such a resource and they’ll keep it well stocked. It’s a simple task of taking what we have to teach and refining the ways in which we deliver it, with a view towards one goal – making it interesting. A sawn-off clothes peg makes a point about leverage, and the old burning amaretti biscuit party trick can work wonders, instilling the idea that heat rises. One interesting reflective exercise, best done with a colleague over a cuppa in a café, is to list three of the dullest and most boring things that you have to teach and consider how you can make them more interesting. I mention the café because that’s where a colleague and I had the idea of teaching decimal fractions using a prices board and playing at ‘greasy spoons’.
I recall saying the words: ‘They just don’t get it!’ as I threw myself into the staffroom after a lesson that had flunked. I said it a lot and I was missing the point. To be a good teacher we need to take responsibility, acknowledging the fact that if the children don’t ‘get it’, it’s because we haven’t given it to them in the right way. If the objective is appropriate to a class then any failure to ‘get it’ should be seen as an opportunity to reflect on teaching, trying to figure out how something could be better explained. When was the last time we really listened to a child who hadn’t ‘got it’. Time spent finding out what they understand, and figuring out where this breaks down, can be a rich reflection on our teaching.
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