So why another blog added to the blogosphere? And why another blog that deals with teaching and learning?
I readily admit there are a lot of educators out there with more knowledge and experience than me and a lot of great ideas about how authentic learning occurs. I am a professor in higher education and have grown passionate about the classroom and how teaching can be engaging and alive. In this age of information, I believe much of education has taught students how to shuffle and move information about but has failed to create “Aha!” moments of meaning and integration to see the bigger picture. And the more I study this topic of authentic learning, the more I have settled on the fact that I am a learner-centered teacher as opposed to a content-centered teacher or a teacher-centered teacher.
What does a learner-centered teacher look like in everyday practice? Maryellen Weimer defines this concept simply and succinctly in her text Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice:
Being learner-centered focuses attention squarely on learning: what the student is learning, how the student is learning, the conditions under which the student is learning, whether the student is retaining and applying the learning, and how current learning positions the student for future learning.
And so to my blog title: To Begin at the End. Though it may seem somewhat paradoxical, it simply means that as teachers, we must always start our thinking in terms of the end: where do we want our students to be as a result of our immersing them in our learning environment? To think otherwise is a potential pitfall to get enraptured with our content or with ourselves as the content authority.
I don’t know about you, but I find it is easy in my own classroom to fall into ruts because I get too focused on just covering content and lose sight of the end goal: my students “getting it.” So allow me to answer my original question: so why this blog? Four reasons come to mind.
- To provide one more encouraging voice of having an amazing classroom experience. I know when I read that it sometimes takes the fourth or fifth time before things start clicking in my own head.
- To provide tools and resources that have helped to make me a more effective teacher. No matter how many tools I have in my “tool belt,” there is always room for one more.
- To challenge thought. Our education system has been stuck in a model that still resembles an Industrial Revolution mindset – cookie cutter students with a lack of focus on individual needs.
- To scratch an itch. I fear becoming dull in my calling and profession. Writing means I have to be reading and considering new thought, and writing forces me to think through what I really believe and get out of my own box of comfort.
So there you have it. Nothing profound but hopefully I have whet your appetite for what can be if you feel you need some inspiration for your classroom. I hope you will join me once in a while for the ride, but if no one else enjoys the ride, I know I will! I always want to be moving forward.
Reflection: So what do you think? Is education in a rut? Why or why not?