1 Feb

Teaching has been, and continues to be, a journey.

There were the practical exercises that followed the introduction of new material throughout elementary school.  There were the experiments from 7th and 8th grade science through General Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.  There were the math problems, proofs, and the dreaded story problems from junior high math to Algebra I and II, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Solid Geometry.  The English classes had worksheets on parts of speech and sentences to diagram and essays to write and the over-analysis of poetry and literature until the life had been beaten out of them. There were hours in front of the typewriter in keyboarding.  However, the subjects that interested me the most were built upon lectures by the teacher.

College did not change this.  The lectures simply became more intense.  I particularly recall my secondary social studies methods professor lecturing about engaging activities but seldom proffering any suggestions to further the concept.

Consequently much of my teaching career I mirrored my role models.  I lectured.  I was the sage on the stage. I believed every learner was an auditory learner.  I had them write essays.  I focused on rote memorization.  I expected the students to regurgitate the information from my lectures.  There was no engagement. I truly feel sorry for those students who had to listen to me drone on about some historical fact.

Law school did not change my perspective.  Oh, the professors used the Socratic method to get us to “think like attorneys” which is the actual goal of law school instead of actually teaching the law.  The examinations were a bit more practical since the goal was to respond extemporaneously as if a client presented this problem in the office.

With regard to teaching, there was desire to do things differently.  It really came together when I began teaching online and earning my Certified Online Instructor (COI) designation from LERN.

The Internet provides access to an array of resources in a variety of formats that accommodate all learning styles. I wanted to become the guide at the side.

  • I began identifying topics consistent with the course objectives and allowing students to find material addressing those topics that was meaningful to them — text, audio, YouTube, etc.
  • I also stressed that they were as much of a teacher as was I. It was a journey for both of us; I should probably be recognized as the most ignorant person in the room.
  • Therefore, instead of seeking THE answer we focused on understanding and applying the material. Oh, it helped that my teaching assignments were legal and ethical in nature.
  • Consequently, evaluations presented real world scenarios that required a recommended course of action with justification and could be in any modality with which the student was comfortable:
    • Papers
    • PowerPoint
    • Presentations (audio and/or video)
    • Panels

The practical application of this material has been beneficial to acquiring useful knowledge about the law and ethics.  (I have carried this philosophy over to the math students that I tutor for Read for L.I.F.E.)  However, instead of simply becoming a guide at the side, I’ve become a fellow traveler on the road to knowledge.




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