You are on page 1of 2

I have been trying to institute my teaching techniques within the classroom.

If you will, it takes a few weeks for the students to feel out the teacher and for the
teacher to get a feel for the classroom dynamics. Following my introductory period I
have tried to work on a few of the focuses I have identified as a teacher I feel are
important: the intellectual techniques, communication skills, research abilities, and
real life application. These are all things that I have isolated as individually
important to me as the instructor, while I agree that the content is important I find
that the skills and techniques behind them are teachable moments/experiences on
a universal platform.
One of the most frustrating experiences thus far in my teaching career has
been the intellectual apathy displayed by my students. Its not a reading or thinking
comprehension disconnect but rather a CHOICE by the students to not expand time
or multiple approaches to the lesson or material. I am constantly surprised by the
amount of limitations the students want within the assignment. They want the
subject of the assignment, the specific focus, amount of words and time to be
spent, and to know each component of every process the teacher is looking for. The
idea that they have choice within the assignment, opinions are important but have
to be validated, and multiple correct answers seem to disconnect as many students
as it inspires others. Instilling the idea of higher level cognitive activity within the
lesson, getting the students to consider multiple opinions or aspects, has been more
of a struggle for my students than I was expecting.
The best way I have found to combat this apathy and instill my sought after
focuses has been the direct challenge of the students and a noted connection to the
actual real life applications of the lessons. I have a tendency to emphasize the
thought, research, and communication portions of the assignment in addition to the
actual content points. Assigning a creative short story for both my grade levels, 9 th
and 11th grade, has been one of the most taxing assignments for all of my students.
I gave them very little limitation despite their repeated requests. The direct
connection I highlighted with the students was the need for creativity in most
careers they are exposed to or may pursue.
Any career involved in media or publication requires the individual to express
themselves in distinctive ways, repetition is the way to blend in while individuality
or originality is what attracts the population. Any immediate position or long-term
career in sales or marketing is another section of employment where the task is
known but the solution is never given to you. You as the salesperson or marketer
have to find a creative way to appeal to the customer base, you can not apply the
same technique that you are shown or find in every situation to every customer to
sell every item. I also liked to point out that the architects or engineers have to
develop unique combinations of functionality and pleasing presentation. Within both
of those career applications the same building shape while functional will not result
in repeat business or optimum functionality. Within all of the combinations you have
to explore multiple ideas, evaluate the applications, and apply an individual taste to
each that separates or distinguishes the idea.
The concept of an individual or original idea is something that both excites
and intimidates the students it seems. The idea that an original idea cannot be

placed into a box and given a widely used evaluation such as a grade or standard
percentages to signify success is one of the struggle points. The other concept of
multiple correct approaches with higher or lower efficiencies depending on the
situation has been a personal struggle I have noted. Both of these concepts were
sources of great frustration for the students and myself until the direct applications
that I had noted above were conversed in class. Following the identification of the
actual applications the students have started to utilize more originality and higher
order thinking.
Some examples of the change in the student thinking while small are greatly
enjoyable to me. When a student does not know that answer to a question they no
longer repeat wrong answers or just stare at me. The common retort, I dont know
Mr. Curtis but I will look it up. I also watch the students use different methods of
research simultaneously within class and compare the answers, the most common
is to have one student look up in the book material and another researching the
answer online and then to have the group discuss the material and make an
informed decision. While both of these may be small transitions neither were being
done within the class within the first few weeks of class. The idea of multiple
research attempts and comparing them within a group conversation was enough to
get blank stare within any of my 11th grade classes. Similarly with the idea that if
you dont know the answer to a question you should look it up, the students would
stare at me waiting for me to tell them answers. When I would ask them if they
could find the answer in some way the state of confusion would only intensify. After
several weeks of reminding them they may ask peers, use a book, or look it up on
the internet the reaction has become more widespread within the class. While these
are small steps and seemingly simple changes to me they are profound. In class
seeing multiple research methods, hearing questions about how they apply to real
life, and seeing students look over tests for grammatical mistakes are specific
things I have been looking for. We have already made changes but there are many
left to be made.
Overall I would estimate the communication skills and real life applications
are components the students accept at face value and attempt. The great
intellectual techniques and especially the research techniques seem to be the ones
the students resist the most. I have my own opinions but I have noticed some
common patterns among students. The quick response and limited interest in the
application over the content within class. A common acceptance of the first
successful technique to address the problem. The quick acceptance of initial failure
and disinterest in finding the solution. The most painful problem for me has been
the patent response technique, students will try to use memory alone and if that
fails there is no adaptation or utilization of resources (books, peers, online
resources, or anything else). I was curious if anybody else has encountered these
and what you think may be the causes? Is it a result of the amount of paper and
selected response tests the students are administered? Is it a result of the student
attention span? Is it a geographic trend or a societal trend in some way?