Monday, April 25, 2011

Sitting in the back of the classroom, a different perspective is easily gained. I often think, watching different teachers teach, how I would approach their lessons differently, given the opportunity. Some things come down to teaching style with no obvious right or wrong answer. Others, I wonder if I am just overly critical (quite possibly....) and have too high of expectations.

For example, when a teacher reads the test to an entire class, explaining a large percentage of the vocabulary words in the questions, it makes me wonder about the validity of the test. It seems that this 'over' defining creates an artifical-ness in the scores on the test. If you need to explain that many words, it seems either the material has NOT been adequately taught/mastered, or the test is written at a level over the reading/comprehending level of students. Either way, it makes me wonder why give the test in the first place. Wouldn't it make more sense to reteach the material until students are comfortable and confident, or, simply rewrite the test at an appropriate level?

Test retakes in and of themselves are a critical part of the learning process. However, when retakes become the norm, the standard, the expectation, doesn't it seem that their is a simpler way to do things? Perhaps, the tests are being given before the material has been adequately taught to students. Perhaps, the tests are written poorly. Perhaps, other teaching strategies need to be implemented to meet the needs of learners. At any rate, when the majority of tests need to be regiven to the majority of students, there is obviously a systemic problem that should be addressed instead of simply retesting constantly.

I wonder how these teachers can best be helped? If they can be helped? Would requiring professional development on effective teaching, best practices, and how to engage learners make a difference?

Where is the breakdown in teaching and learning? How can we best bridge this ever-widening gap?

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