In the last few years, I have really struggled with the fact that my students endure a lot on block schedule - and by a lot, I mean time and sitting still. While I love having 96 minutes for each class, I wonder if I am using the time effectively and if my students are engaged. In conducting some research about classroom environment, mastery grading, and flipped classrooms, I asked myself: Would I want to be a student in my own class? This question also has to do a lot with the content. I primarily teach United States history and I know how many students say they hate history. And I actually like that - it gives me an extra challenge.
My passion for critical pedagogy and the writing of Paolo Freire encourage me to constantly reflect on my teaching, what I say in class, and how the instructional strategies I choose have an impact on students. I am not talking about the purely academic effect. Instead, does my pedagogy align with a critical stance on education where learning occurs through reciprocity between teacher and student. Do I value my students perspectives and challenge traditional classroom structures that give the teacher complete power over knowledge dissemination. Do I provide students with the opportunity to engage their own backgrounds and experiences to make learning more about the exploration of self and not just content? Are my beliefs about the power of education apparent or am I a little delusional in the sense that there is a disconnect between what I want to have happen in class and what is really occurring?
So again, would I want to be a student in my class?
Next semester I want to conduct my own mini-research study. I want to video record my lesson plans and spend some reflecting on what really happens in 96 minutes:
This deeper analysis of my teaching might lead me to find better ways of aligning my philosophy of education with my practice. Some of my colleagues get annoyed when I talk about education theory because they struggle with getting stuck in the world of ideas and what ifs. However, I would argue that all of our teaching is grounded is some theory. We just might not be aware of what ideas and beliefs we reinforce or replicate.