Tuesday, February 02, 2010

In teaching, it seems we constantly walk a fine line between teaching, spoon feeding and helping students become independent learners. I struggle with that walk daily.
My social studies class is, for many students, the first time they have ever really had to STUDY for a test in order to be successful on the written assessment. In the past, either tests are rarely given, or the material has been presented in such a way that tests are redundant, or students are allowed to use their books/notes on the tests. But as students progress to higher and higher levels, more independent learning is necessary.
Try as I may, some students will not study, will not take the time outside class to even look over their notes, much less actually study them. I realize many of them do not have good study habits yet, so I try to teach those skills to them as we work together in class. We make flashcards for vocabulary words. We create outlines, diagrams, and other visual representations of the material together, trying to create meaning and organization to the concepts. I create slide shows with illustrations to help them remember things with a picture.
At some point, however, the ball really IS in their court. I can only use so much time in class to go over concepts repeatedly. For the students who grasp new material easily, this allotted time may be enough. Unfortunately, for others, allocating personal time to actually STUDY is the only path to success.
So I walk that fine line between reviewing one more time, going over the topics one more time, flashing up one more visual, and just expecting them to pass or fail on their own. It truly is a balancing act. Is there such a thing as OVER-teaching? I wonder.... at what point are we causing more problems than solutions? Can we hover too much? Can we guide too much? At what point do we just let go and leave it in their hands?

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