It is what teachers know, do, and care about which is very powerful in this learning equation.
We recently visited the West Coast, where my 14-year-old daughter Samantha had her first surfing lesson. I thought we would show up at a beach, meet an instructor (who had all the equipment), surf for an hour, and be done with it.
We arrived for our lesson and were met by a young man named Cody, a passionate surfing teacher. After introductions Sam and Cody got right to business, organizing and selecting equipment.
At the beach, Cody showed Sam how to wax the board and had her feel with her hands the effects of the sticky wax, letting her know this was what would help her cement her stance once up on the board. I was thinking that they were now ready to go into the water. But no, the board simply got turned over so that the wax didn’t melt in the sun. They then spent the next hour on the beach learning the basics of surfing.
I tried not to eavesdrop too much, but I found myself captivated by Cody and his lesson techniques. Cody shared essential content, provided visual representations by creating models in the sand, and involved his student through guided practice and formative assessments. These are some of the phrases I overheard:
We are going to chunk this information. There is a lot to learn about surfing. I have been surfing for years.
Never turn your back to the water; when you fall off your board, make an X over your head with your arms; always know your focal point; and if you get in a riptide, paddle parallel to shore.
Show me again what you do when you fall off your board to protect your head.
Okay, Sam, tell me the four things you need to remember for safety.
Tell me what you are going to do if you get in a riptide. Draw what it looks like in the sand.
As I continued to watch the surfing lesson, I couldn’t help but think of John Hattie’s research on what makes an excellent teacher. Hattie and his colleague Dick Jaeger identified five dimensions of excellent teachers, all of whom
- can identify essential representations of their subject,
- can guide learning through classroom interactions,
- can monitor learning and provide feedback,
- can attend to affective attributes, and
- can influence student outcomes.
After 90 minutes, Sam was finally in the water. She was in her glory. I could see Cody the proud instructor, clapping and jumping up and down in the water every step of the way. Sam demonstrated that she could balance on the board. He clapped. Sam caught a wave. He clapped. Sam fell off the board and got back up. He would clap. No accomplishment was too small for a clap celebration. It was a reminder to me of the importance of always celebrating small victories in teaching and learning.
Two and half hours later, Sam strapped the surfboard back onto the car by herself. She was already planning to rent a board and surf when we got home to the East Coast. As we pulled out to leave I looked up in my rearview mirror to catch a glimpse of Cody, now carrying his own board, heading back down to the beach to practice his craft.
This week we look at the connections between learning and goals. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Jennifer Allen is a literacy specialist in grades 3-5 for the Waterville, Maine, school district, where she works as a reading coach and leads professional development programs for teachers in a wide range of formats. She is the author of Becoming a Literacy Leader and A Sense of Belonging (both available through Stenhouse Publishers), as well as three video series.
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Katherine Sokolowski develops check-in sheets for goals as a way to lift energy and reflection when student efforts are flagging:
Bill Bass finds Google Spreadsheets are a terrific tool for helping students and teachers keep track of goals:
A mother considers her son’s process of preparing for a Julliard audition, and in doing so realizes the importance of breaking large goals up into very small ones:http://www.businessinsider.com/my-11-year-old-son-auditioned-at-juilliard-2017-5
As Deb Frazier says goodbye and shares hugs with students, she reflects on her goals from early in the year:
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Kate Mills and Tara Barnett provide some practical tips for connecting students and goals:
Melanie Meehan finds that student-designed development cards are a great way to get students invested in literacy goals:
In this week’s video, Katrina Edwards has her students think of something brave they did for a writing share session:
That’s all for this week!