Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Don’t Do Anything that Doesn’t Require a College Education

These are words I learned from my brilliant Master Teacher, Frau Lila Thom. She told me if I completed a task, it would be done, but that would be the only benefit. If a student did the task, it would also be finished, but he/she would have learned something from the doing. I worked hard to remember this, until it became a habit.

If you keep this in mind, students are able to learn much more than just the curriculum in the lesson plan. In addition, you’ll have more time to do things that really do require a college education. I taught mostly high school foreign languages, German and French. But I also taught English from time to time. In all subjects, I had several “jobs” for students. They collected work, passed it back once graded (which I did), sorted classroom supplies, filed papers (some students loved this task), wrote the date, Verb of the Day and Quote of the Day on the white board each morning and erased the board at the end of the day.

A recurrent activity in my classes was short quizzes on new vocabulary and verb conjugations. We had them three or four times each week. After a student monitor passed out the paper (made by tearing recycled paper into fourths), I gave the quiz. Students exchanged papers in an established routine, and we checked them together. I never had a problem with cheating on these quizzes. Perhaps this is because I walked around the room as we graded them. It took three or four minutes of class time, but would have taken me hours to do on my own. I learned to use my time doing what required my skills and education, and let students do what did not.

They also checked each other’s student notebooks. I put a rubric on the board, and students exchanged folders (but not with the person who graded theirs). This made it unnecessary for me to carry 175+ folders home each quarter. It also helped students to see what others students did with their papers. They learned how to better organize their own work this way. This benefit would not have been derived if I had graded the folders.

After a while, you get a feel for what students can handle. The hardest thing for a teacher to do is to learn to delegate. If you do everything, you are depriving them of the lessons they would learn if they did some of the tasks for you. You are not lazy if students complete some jobs. You are being wise. Students learn responsibility and become self-confident when you trust them.  Use your college education when it’s needed, allow students to show you they are capable when it is not.

For more information, you'll want my new book, Free College Awareness, coming soon from Griffin Publishing and Watering Seeds. How to avoid needing college loans; available soon to families of Pre-K through High School students.

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