Teaching to Learn, Learning to Teach

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Pursue Excellence but Remain Fluid” is great advice for any teacher, regardless of where they are in their career. The "pursuit of excellence", a topic discussed in the Cool Cat Teacher Blog, emphasizes some important points with regard to distinction in teaching. The author indicates the importance of remembering what makes an outstanding teacher so we do not lose sight of what is truly important in our pursuit for flawlessness. The author also emphasizes the use of the Socratic method to achieve excellence in the classroom by employing a teaching style that leads with questions.

I agree with the statements that describe excellence in teaching, and I feel the Socratic method will help achieve such excellence. I strongly feel using questions to guide student learning is a great way to encourage active participation from my students. It is also beneficial because students remember what they learn themselves, and they are expected to pay attention during class. As a student myself, I find it easy to drift off mid lecture if I know I’m not going to be called on.

However, part of me as a beginning teacher is reluctant to employ such a technique. What if my students do not respond to my questions? What if I run out of questions? What if my questions are too easy, or what if they embarrass my students who do not know the answers? I hope with experience I can become more accustomed to this method.

I still think teaching with questions is a great method, but it can also be employed on ourselves. By questioning our own abilities, assessing what went wrong and what worked, we can improve our own performance in the classroom and facilitate our students. We can ask ourselves a variety of questions. Which strategies did I employ that were most effective? What could I do to improve on the lesson? Have my students mastered the concepts?

This blog presents some interesting ideas, and I might print out these bulleted points about excellence in teaching so I do not lose sight of what I am really striving for as an educator one day.

*This picture is of PUFF BALL, my sister's cat. It's in honor of the Cool Cat Teacher Blog.


At 10:47 AM, Blogger Vicki A. Davis said...

I think the best method of learning the Socratic teaching method is to find a teacher who employs this method effectively.

I was fortunate enough to find one of the best professors at my college, Dr. Phil Adler, to be such a teacher. He did not have a textbook but taught 100% Socratic. I took every course I could take and when I ran out of classes, he had me be his undergraduate teaching assistant. It is something that comes naturally to me now.

You learn your students and how not to embarrass them, however, the fact that questions are coming keeps them on their toes in itself. Students with learning disabilities can be prepped the day ahead in casual conversation.

I will contemplate, research, and write more about using the Socratic method. You can listen to how I used this method at the end of my class discussion on hacking. I blogged about my classroom discussion on hacking and linked to the podcast on the ethics of hacking.

The podcast in particular may give you insight into the way I use the Socratic method. The best way to learn is to watch others. Most teachers use this somewhat whether they know it or not!

Best wishes!

At 3:50 AM, Blogger Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach said...

Looks like you are well on your way to becoming a scholarly blogger! Thanks to Vicki A. Davis for showing a preservice teacher the way!

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach----> who also is a fan of the Socratic method!

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