In addition to writing about [Back to School], my experience being a student again pursuing a minor in secondary education, I’m also hoping to write about mistakes I make during inquiry teaching. Mostly by mistake, I mean not supporting students in their own inquiry. Here’s my mistake of this week.
Using My Authority To Undermine My own Goals
One group is getting really interested in how projectors work, seeing it as possibly analogous to how our box theatres work. They did some tinkering around with our overhead projector, noticing that the lens also flips the image. They explored with and without the mirror, and tried other investigations to see if they could get images to flip using mirrors. Being kind of stuck or just interested in what the different parts of the project might be they started looking some information online. When I came by, I noticed they had some diagrams on their iphones. Instead of engaging them with what they were doing, asking them to tell me about the diagram, what they were thinking, or what they were hoping to learn from the diagram, I sort of came over and “shot down” getting on the internet. My secret concern was that using the internet would lead them to use such information authoritatively in an unproductive way. I just assumed that they would use it unproductively, instead of engaging with them and trying to help them engage with it productively. I even could have, after engaging them, voiced my concern in a friendly way, while still letting them know that I trust them as adults to make decisions about how to research and pursue their topic. Instead, I actually created the situation I was worried about–I came over as an authority and told them “not to get answers from the internet”. Ugh! The biggest problem is I as a teacher don’t know what they are thinking and doing, because I failed to do any meaningful proximal formative assessment.
What I really appreciated was that one of students from the group wrote on her “Daily Sheet” that she was concerned that I was stepping in too early with their group, not giving them time and space to do their thing. I feel bad about the mistake I’ve made, but glad that this student felt comfortable sharing their concern with me.
Anyway, what do you think about mistake? What mistakes have you made this week?