Do as I do

Better late than never.

I’d required my students to write a plan for the semester and keep a reflective journal on what they’re learning. It’s an experiment, this class: a chance for the students to get credit for self-directed learning. So they’re each learning something different, something they’re interested in. One is learning business models, another programming in C++, another Art and Law… To keep track of it all and make sure they are keeping track of their own work, they have to keep a learning log and plan out what they want to learn and how they are going to learn it.

And then it struck me: I’m doing my own self-directed learning. Apart from my personal learning (a new language, investment strategies, etc), I’m also having to learn a new curriculum and teaching & assessment techniques for the IB Diploma Computer Science course I’ll be teaching next year. I’m presently taking an online course and have signed up for a face-to-face workshop, and I’m reading curriculum materials and brushing up on my Java programming. I am doing all the things that my students are doing.

So why am I not doing the tasks I set my students?

It seems to me that it’s only fair that a teacher not ask his/her students to do more than he/she is willing to do. If I am asking students to plan their learning, keep a journal, and show off their learning experience to me and each other, then I should do the same.

So I did. I’m doing the same tasks I set my students. I’m recording my work and reflecting on my learning and following a plan I’ve laid out for the semester. I explained my thinking and my work to my students and am showing them what I’m up to.

I’m not sure how important it is to them that I’m doing this, but it certainly has become so to me. It’s a good experience for me as a learner …and as a teacher. I understand better what my students are going through – not only the learning experience but also the tasks that I require them to do.

It only seems fair.

Interesting: I realize that I wrote a piece with the same name about teachers & administrators over a year ago.