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You dont have to be Loud to be Heard

August 2, 2013

Next week on #satchatoc (a weekly Saturday morning Twitter chat for educational leaders for the Oceania timezone and spin off of the popular #satchat based in the USA) the topic is Differentiation. So I think most of us know what it is, or what it should be. I tried to reflect back on what worked for me and what didn’t as a learner in school. What teachers engaged me, helped me learn and think back to the learning environments and ability to be myself and learn in my own way.  I felt that the teacher had such an impact either way, positive or negative that their teaching styles or personality traits greatly affected my own learning. I tried to think back at the choices I had to learn they way I needed to learn, and to be honest back then I’m not sure I was even aware of the best way I could learn. So as I thought of differentiation I started to think back on the importance of the role of the teacher in my own learning. What was an effective teacher for me.

For me, an effective teacher allowed students some leeway to learn and didn’t force one ‘right’ way.  I was allowed to express myself in different. So I started to do a bit of research into different teacher types and found this What type of teacher are you quiz. Its all pretty harmless but I agreed with teacher type it created afterwards.

So then I started to think of the teachers I could remember in school. No its not really a spinoff of this although this is amusing. I could relate a bit to the graphic on the right but I sat down and tried to group the teachers I could remember and how I saw them. This is how I break down teachers that have taught me (that I can recall).

The Drill Sergeant: Takes full advantage of the ‘Teacher Voice’ and speaks loudly over HIS students. If you act in an abnormal way (like not in the way he expects) be prepared for an earful. Of course the classes next to you will know your name as well. This teacher loves repetition, sticking to the schedule and if you ‘fall  behind’ watch out.

The Listener:  This teacher loves to listen first. Is patient and gives time. This teacher values learner’s opinions and responds to them. Supports them.

The Guardian: Protects you and always agrees, helping you at every turn so much so they actually do the work for you so your feelings don’t get hurt. You earn little but cruise through because hey..its all too easy!

The Know-it-all: Sarcastic comments. This teacher knows all. All content and opinions that contradicts him/her are irrelevant and belittled. If you deviate from this teacher mindset good luck at getting a good grade. Questioning why tou are in the class isn’t an option. This teacher turns you off of learning more.

Doesn’t Give a s*** No explanation required. Please retire.

So what do teacher types have to do with Differentiation? For me it was this teacher The Listener who allowed me to  try different ways to express my understanding.  Show my understanding.  That takes me full circle to the kind of learner and person I am now I think. I am a listener. I think its harder to listen than it is to talk. Really listening is a huge skill that needs to be developed. On tests I always did ‘ok’ but needed that extra thinking time time to digest. Same goes with meetings. Digesting all of the  ideas, opinions and making sense of what people are actually trying to communicate takes a bit of time for me. I think a few of my teachers recognised this and gave time. Gave me time to think. I now return the favor to my students.

So, there you have it. Just a bit of a reflection on the kind of teacher I want to be and the kind of teacher I do not want to be. Have I forgotten anyone…anyone…anyone?  🙂

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2013 2:18 am

    Hi Jason
    My memories of school was that there was very little differentiation (probably none) that was similar to the kind that we are hoping for in our classrooms.

    I remember we were split up into different reading groups for reading comprehension. We had different SRA box levels for Language Arts. (Do you remember the SRA boxes?) Within our groups, we did the exact same things.

    Everything we did (math, spelling, reading, writing, grammar) was done through these huge sets of texts plus accompanying workbooks. Needless to say, I went through them in “zombie” mode. I think part of the reason I have terrible handwriting was due to the hours I spent writing out answers in the workbooks while my mind was elsewhere.

    All of my elementary teachers taught like this. They were the “hand-out the prescribed curriculum” teachers but I think it was the philosophy of the time to ensure every child covered everything. Everything was scoped and sequenced meticulously. I feel like I had a very thorough education, though not very motivating.

    I like the differentiation where students are given freedom to choose something according to their interests and also where they can choose how they want to show their learning. Self-assessment, peer-assessment are also a part of “differentiated learning”.

    We’re light years ahead of where we were when I was in school.


  2. August 3, 2013 3:48 pm

    I love the balanced view, the links, the video, the survey.
    A great reflection for back to school meetings.
    The French “shape-up or ship-out” education system taught me rebellion.
    My teaching experience in Australia and then, in American education, provided a clearer understanding of differentiation and how “learning is ditching its suite and tie for shorts and a hoodie” to teach disruptively:

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