As a part of a curriculum team that I’m on, I attend monthly PD meetings related to science. I began this process eagerly awaiting 6 hours of content growth for each of the monthly meetings. Sadly, this has not been the case. I won’t dwell on these experiences because the focus of this blog is my students, not my own personal learning. However, reflections on the failures of these monthly meetings has helped me refocus my learning goals for my classrooms.
If I come to a meeting expecting that my time will be used wisely, then my students should have the same expectations of my classroom–every period, every day. I consider myself a good teacher. I work hard to design lessons that are hands-on, engaging, and fun. However, it is possible that even in all of this, there are some students whose learning is not extended. Perhaps they were already familiar with the concepts presented and I failed to deepen or extend their learning in a meaningful way. Why? It’s tough to reach every student, every day in my classroom. Students come to me with a variety of background experiences and understandings. Even though they may have experienced the same science classroom last year, they still have different needs this year.
How, then, can I meet the needs of all of my students, especially in a classroom setting where we are doing hands-on lab activities? Perhaps the key resides in John Dewey’s statement that we don’t learn from experience but from reflecting on those experiences. If I can design reflection questions that are scaffolded for all of my students, perhaps I can reach each one throughout the lab experience–even if we are all doing the same lab activity–even if some students have done the lab before.
What about you? Will you commit to making sure that each student gets a full period of learning every day?