Throughout teacher pre-service, professional development, and Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings, I often find that we learn and discuss best practices; instructional strategies, literacy skills, classroom management, etc. Refining such practices is extremely important. Pedagogical skills and content awareness are ingredients to creating an effective classroom. The opportunities to have conversations about best practices in relation to the population of learners you currently have make it that much more relevant and efficient. However, at what point do we begin to talk about the effectiveness of the transfer of this content and strategies?
When To Bring Framework To The Table
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS, 2010) are the skills in which us teachers must transfer to our learners. How we transfer content knowledge and skills are indicative of the content and strategies we apply to them. These elements are taught time and time again throughout teacher preservice and professional development. And hopefully, content is ever evolving as we utilize relevant, differentiated approaches to transfer knowledge and skills.
With all of that said, when do we talk about how we ensure our transference is effective? I was once told that teaching is a science and an art. You have the technical parts to it, mixed in with a deep understanding of the human condition. In order to feed the most vital component of the skill of learning, curiosity, we as teachers must understand how to inspire and motivate those around us. This comes in the form of what I call "framework."
For every unit I create, I use my Understanding by Design (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005) template I created. It is a constant work in progress, as I change the elements of my units and what strategic components I need throughout it. It also serves as a guide to keep the unit consistently authentic, meaningful, and rooted in the end goal.
Brian Cambourne's Conditions of Learning (Cambourne, 1988) forces teachers to consider the type of learning and experiences created for learners throughout the unit in an intentional way. This helps feed the curiosity so meaningful learning can take place. These considerations could also aid in learners moving toward intrinsic motivation, if applied effectively.
Feeding the Curiosity
From the time I began my teaching career, I understood one concept:
As a teacher, I am here to inspire & motivate people
As I have continued my teaching career and own education, I have learned another concept:
As a teacher, I am here to provoke & challenge
In order to get to the point of inspiring, motivating, provoking, and challenging your audience, you must be asking yourself the right questions while staying grounded in the meaningful purpose of your end goal. The meaningful purpose of your end goal is the beginning of your work in every experience you create for your learners. Notice I use the word "experience" and not lesson. This is how we begin to change lives. This is how we feed the curiosity.