Monday, September 9, 2013


This will be my 6th year teaching and my 3rd year as a 'Modeler.' I have never experienced any professional development / curriculum framework like Modeling. Why else would I take it upon myself to create a geometry curriculum based around the modeling philosophy? 

But I find myself at a crossroads; I've yet to have a huge amount of success with Modeling Instruction, both data-based success as well as student opinion-based success. Classroom management has always been a weak spot for me, and I'm starting to think that Modeling is actually making my issues worse. 

It's only the 4th day of school, and it's already spectacularly clear to me that my students are well behaved so long as I'm fulfilling the traditional sage-on-the-stage role (which I abhor, btw). Show a quick video clip? They listen attentively. Try to facilitate a discussion about the clip? Good luck. Detail a process using a document camera projecting onto a large screen? Students silently take notes. Stop the 'lecture' to have students explore a concept on their own (or in small groups)? Fugetaboutit.

In talking with other teacher in 'better' school districts and I've always just assumed that 'better' students don't give their teachers as much grief as my students give me. But seeing how cooperative everyone is when I dim the lights and lecture with a doc cam has made me think twice about that. Obviously  my students *can* behave and take class seriously, but they often choose not to. 

The simple solution is put Modeling on the back burner for the sake of my own sanity, but I honestly don't think that's going to have a significant impact on the amount on the % of students who fail my class (the only metric that my district cares about when determining my worth). Besides, deep down I know in my heart that Modeling is a better way to get to deeper understanding of content. Just because students are quiet and (seemingly) attentive doesn't mean they're learning anything. 

It all boils down to the paradigm shift all teachers who embrace Modeling must deal with, I'm simply still struggling to find an effective method to facilitate that shift. Students aren't paying attention to anything non-lecture because they're been taught that lecture is all that matters. The assumption they make is that if I'm not delivering content, then the content must not be that important. So I guess my goal for this year is to drive home the notion that just because I'm not the focus of the class, doesn't mean major breakthroughs aren't happening. 

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