Saturday, July 21, 2007

Changes in the classroom

"I have changed my teaching because of Mondays’s session with David Hornsby." This was a statement that Gill made as I was passing my friend in the hallway. Gill is an English Language teacher and she was excited after her first lesson for the term. She reflects: "last year I would have started with the timeline of the history of the English language. This year I decided to read to them from Beowulf. “I read them the first line. “Did you understand what that said?” No, they replied. Well, here’s a free translation. Then my friend said, “what sort of people do you think these were?” They knew. They were a fierce people, a warrior people….. who liked stomping on their enemies and that’s what they did to the Celts and that’s why we speak almost no Celtic today". The students were hooked right from the first moment. Our Director of Teaching and Learning had reminded us this morning of the need for us to change. None of the impact of the PD days will be felt, he said, if we still go into the classroom and do the same things we’ve always done. We must change the way we approach this."

And in my classroom also there have been changes. Hearing from the students what their point of view is on some of the issues I intend to bring up for discussion, phrasing the learning in terms of a guiding question tjhat we all will find out the answer to. It's not just me who knows the answer now and there is no 'trying to guess what's in my mind'. The need to have the students take ownership of their learning by them having an investment into it is paramount. For Year 7 in their study of Millie and the Night Heron by Catherine Bateson, the investment is already there for some of the students as they love the novel and its themes. One of those students who has ADHD and Oppositional Defiaant Disorder had read the novel in the holidays and came into class the first day with half a page of typed reflection on the novel which had not been required. I'm so proud of her.

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