Month: August 2018

Teaching Between Desks

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classroom desksIn Japan, teachers are often found providing instruction to students while moving throughout the student desks. American educators Bradley Ermeling and Genevieve Graff-Ermeling observed the method, known as kikan-shidō, during a professional study visit to Saitama, Japan in 2014. In their article Teaching Between Desks, Ermeling and Graff-Ermeling noted the following functions that were used to facilitate deeper student learning:

  1. Monitoring student activity. Teachers find it easier to keep track of what students are doing when they spend time walking throughout the desks. Teachers can address off-task behaviors quickly and directly.
  2. Guiding student activity. Teachers can quickly assess the learning taking place at student desks and move students along by asking guiding questions and/or responding to student questions.
  3. Organizing materials and the physical setup. Teachers can help students with the items needed to complete learning experiences while they are walking throughout the student desks.
  4. Engaging in social talk. Teachers can use the walkthrough time to talk with students about content or whatever else may arise, further strengthening the student-teacher relationship.

Throughout the walk, teachers can offer instruction, clarification, and feedback to students in real time. To read more about kikan-shidō, access the article here: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct14/vol72/num02/Teaching-Between-Desks.aspx. As you plan for next week, consider changing up your instructional routine and apply kikan-shidō. You and your students might enjoy it!

Sustainable Grading Practices

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red pencils for gradingAccording to Glen Pearsall in a recent article published in Educational Leadership, teachers work on average teachers work 14 more hours per week than they are paid for due to issues related to preparation, planning, and grading. Many teachers reported they often stay late at work or take mounds of student work home to be graded. While such dedication is noble, it is not sustainable.

Pearsall recommends the following strategies for managing grading and marking student work:

  1. Minimalist Marking. Practice error flagging (place a dot or dash at the line where errors appear and then have your students correct the mistake), error counting (divide the work into subsections and give a subtotal for each section, then students have to find their errors and correct them), student-generated comments (you identify errors and have students write general comments summing up the advice), and model correcting (select a portion of the work to mark-up and then have students complete the remaining sections).
  2. Alternative Grades. Rather than use traditional letter grades, employ a system that has a mark for equal to prior work, better standard than prior work, or lower standard than prior work.
  3. Annotating Feedback. Provide students with oral feedback regarding their work and have them summarize the feedback in writing.
  4. Identifying Patterns of Error. Teachers provide students feedback by creating a table of common errors and train students to recognize those errors themselves. Over time, students will start to recognized their common patterns and work to correct them independently.

Pearsall’s article provides more detail about these types of strategies and may be accessed here: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/summer18/vol75/num09/Teaching-Smarter.aspx. Keep these strategies in mind as you plan for student assessment next week. You may be able to reduce the amount of material you collect and take home for grading, and your students may be more engaged in their own assessment.

Win Every Time!

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clownThe 1998 movie Patch Adams is loosely based on the early struggles of Hunter Adams as he undertook training to become a physician in Virginia.  Adams’ philosophical perspective regarding developing close relationships with his patients – particularly through the use of humor – was directly opposed to the distance that the clinical faculty demanded in the doctor-patient relationship.  In one poignant scene from the film, Adams, portrayed by the late Robin Williams, is required to stand in front of the faculty for a hearing related to his fitness to continue studies and to provide care to the indigent people of rural Virginia. Adams passionately challenges the faculty to think about the importance of patient-first relationships in the healing process, and states, “That’s why, when you treat a disease, you win or you lose; but when you treat a person, I guarantee, you win no matter what the outcome.”

In the movie, and in real life, as well, Adams was able to gain re-entry into medical school and continue his work providing free medical service to the underserved in rural Appalachia.  He later expanded his efforts into the global community, impacting the lives of the underserved from Africa to South America. His Gesundheit! Institute continues to thrive and grow under his watchful eye.  Patch still employs humor as a medium to connect with others for their overall well-being.

As we jump headlong into a new year, we will also jump headlong into curriculum, instructional methodologies, behavioral expectations, intervention systems, data, and a host of other items that trend toward the clinical aspects of education.  These things are important, and yes, we want you to use them to their fullest extent to inform and improve your practices and increase student achievement results. But please don’t let these clinical elements ever overshadow that fact that we are teaching people. I encourage you to smile, laugh, play, and have fun with your students.  I encourage you to connect with them, their families, and your colleagues in meaningful ways, knowing that the relationships you develop will yield tremendous and lasting results. I guarantee, you win no matter what the outcome.