Month: September 2017
I like the word authentic. It signifies something is genuine and real, something tangible and significant. In teaching, we should continually strive to create authentic experiences for our students, so they can connect the content they are studying with the real world they enter after school hours. Larissa Pahomov, author of the book Authentic Learning in the Digital Age: Engaging Students Through Inquiry, provides a framework for developing an inquiry-based classroom. It is built on five core values:
- Inquiry – the desire to gain knowledge and skills
- Research – how well you can find what you need to know and apply it
- Collaboration – working with others to share and further knowledge and skills
- Presentation – knowing how to present your work in person or online
- Reflection – the ability to think about knowledge and skills and analyze performance in all areas
These five core values can be employed in concert to build an inquiry-based classroom. Begin thinking about how they are used in your classroom to help students interact with content at the highest levels.
If you are a student of leadership or a fan of basketball, you may have heard of John Wooden. Wooden was a legendary college coach who guided the UCLA men’s basketball program to a record 10 NCAA National Championships. Because of his unprecedented success, people asked Wooden what made him and his teams so successful. He responded with the simple formula above. In Wooden’s mind, conditioning was the preparation necessary to finish the game as strong as it was started. Fundamentals focused on the basic skills that were vital for each player. (At the beginning of each season, Wooden taught his players the “right” way to put on socks. That’s how vital the basic skills were to him.) Unity represented the sacrificing of individual ego for the oneness of the team.
I believe the same simple formula that Wooden used throughout his entire coaching career can guide our teaching. Our conditioning entails being prepared for every minute of class, so that the very last minute of the very last class of the week is as productive as the first. Our fundamentals are those basic skills of instructional methods and assessment that are vital for each teacher. Unity reflects our ability to come together and work for the benefit of the students in the school. When we fully employ our conditioning, fundamentals, and unity, our students will succeed beyond our wildest imaginations, and we will be truly successful.