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MelindaMiron
ProfessorRichHerrmann
TEC610LearningandTeaching
16June2016

Teachinginthe21stCentury:WhatWorks?
IadmitIamofanagethatispartoftheoldwayoflearningandteachinginschools.
ByoldwayImeanthatmyformativeschoolingyearsoccurredduringthestandardizedtesting
revolutionofthe1980sand1990s.Istartedkindergartenafew(four)shortyearsbeforethe
report
ANationatRisk:TheImperativeforEducationalReform
(U.S.Dept.ofEducation)was
producedandstartedwhatbecameathirtyyearplusloveaffairwithcomparingoureducational
systemwiththoseofothercountriesandusingtestscorestomeasurestudentseducational
success.Althoughthereporthasmanybeneficialeducationalrecommendations,andsomeofthe
testingdatahasbeenbroughtintoquestion(Ansary),theideaoftestingasagaugeofsuccess
wasthemaintakeawayformanystates.
Sowhat?Whatdoesthishavetodowithlearningandteaching?WhileIfeelthat
I
receivedadecenteducationinthisenvironment,andthatIdiddevelopthecriticalthinkingand
analyticalskillsnecessarytoconsidermyselfawelleducatedperson,Icanadmitthatmy
experienceisnotthesameforeveryone.Ihavenoknowledgeaboutthetypesofcoursesthat
studentsinteachereducationandcredentialpreparationschoolswererequiredtotakeinmy
day.WeretheteachersthatIhadduringmyearlyschoolyearsrequiredtotakeclassesin
LearningTheory,MultipleIntelligences,CognitiveDevelopment,Metacognition,etc.?OrwasI


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luckyenoughtohavehadteachersthatnaturallydifferentiatedbetweenstudentswithdissimilar
learningstyles?IdontknowifIwilleverhavetheanswertothatquestionshortoftracking
downmyteachersandaskingoratleastfindingoutwheretheywenttoschoolandresearching
thecurriculuminthe1960sand1970sforteachereducationprograms.Whileitistruethatmany
educatorsaremostcomfortableusingthemethodstheythemselvesexperiencedatthe
wellintentionedhandsoftheirownteachers,wehavetoevaluateandtrytoadaptmethodsand
theoriesthathavebeenproventobebeneficialtoalargernumberofstudents,andthatwill
mirrorandtransitionintothejobsandvocationsofourmodern,21stcenturyworld.

WHATMETHODSANDTHEORIES?
InourLearningandTeachingclass,thestudentshavehadtheopportunitytobe
introducedtoanumberofideasaboutstudents,theirculturalbackgrounds,theiremotional
intelligences,theirlearningstyles,andhowtocreateaclassroomenvironmentthatusesallof
theseconceptsinordertobenefitthelearningexperiencesofeachindividual.Wehavelearned
thatnoteveryonelearnsaswedoandthattherearefivedifferentorientationsoflearning:
Behaviorist,Humanist,SocialLearning,Constructivist,andCognitivist(althoughthereis
crossoverand,accordingtoHowardGardner,eightdifferentintelligences:linguistic,musical,
logicalmathematical,spatial,bodilykinesthetic,interpersonal,intrapersonal,andnaturalistic
(qtd.inDarlingHammondet.al.,7576).Ifindthat,whilereadingabouttheseconceptsis
helpfulinordertounderstandthem,itprobablyismorebeneficialtoactuallyseetheminaction
ortotalktointhetrenchesteacherstoseehowtheycanbeappliedinanactualclassroom.I
feelthatveryoftenwhenforums,committees,conventions,andothercouncilsareheldthat


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determineimportantpoliciesconcerningeducation,theverypeoplewhowillhavetoimplement
thereformsorimprovementsareleftoutoftheconversation.Whileitisprobablyimportantto
haveprofessionaleducationaldesigners,administrators,communityrepresentatives,andother
expertsinattendance,classroomteachersshouldbethereaswellbringingwiththemtheirstories
ofsuccessandstruggle.
Inthisvein,Italkedwithtwomiddleschoolteachersaswellaspulledfrommyown
experienceasaclassroomteachertoevaluatethemethodsandtheorieswehavetouchedonin
ourLearningandTeachingclassthissemester.Sinceouroverallgoalasstudentsistolearnto
createaclassroomenvironmentthatencourageslifelonglearningwhileaddressingthediverse
needsandexpectationsofourstudents,Ifeltitwouldbebeneficialtoaskthequestionsthatmost
illustratetheimplementationoftheseideals.
SUMMARYOFTEACHEREXPERIENCE
InordertogetagraspontheclassroomexperienceofthetwoteachersItalkedwith,I
decidedtonarrowthequestionsIaskedthemtoencompassteachinglessonsandthetypesofend
productstheydesiredfromtheirstudents.ThefirstteacherIinterviewedwasSharonCalhoun,
an8thgradeteacherwhosespecialtyisEnglishLanguageArts(ELA)andReligionanda
classroomteacherforover25years.MysecondteacherinterviewwaswithVinceHalter,a
20yearveteranofteachingwithanemphasisonSocialStudiesandReligion.Bothteachers
currentlypracticetheirvocationsatSt.MichaelSchoolinLivermore,CA,asdoI(butcannot
claimtheyearsofexperienceoftheothertwo).
Asfarasopeningtheirlessons,bothteacherspreferredthewholeclassdiscussionofan
essentialquestionorquestionstoassesspriorknowledgeandbegintheirexplorationofa


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particularintopic.WhilethisworkswellforELA,SocialStudies,andReligion,Ifindthat
openingwitharealworldexampleinmathematicsissuccessfulmostofthetime.Wehave
learnedthatitisbeneficialtoastudentscognitiveprocessingtohelpthemmakeconnections
withwhattheyalreadyknow.AccordingtoourtextPeoplemorereadilyprocessinformation
thatconnectstothingsthatarealreadyfamiliartothem(52).Therefore,usingagood
anticipatorysetthatassistsinmakingconnectionsandactivatingschemaiskeytostartingoffa
lessonontherightpath.
Astothemeatofaparticularlesson,Idiscussedtheideasoforganizinginformation,
addressingmultipleintelligences,collaborativeorsociallearning,andassessmentreadiness.
Bothteachershadadopteddifferentwaysofhelpingtheirstudentsorganizeandmakesenseof
information,havingtheirstudentsworkcollaboratively,andmotivationaltechniques.Mrs.
Calhounusedmanydifferentmethodsforcategorizationincludinggraphicorganizers,different
notetakingmethods,diagrams,clustermaps,pro/conexplorations,etc.Mr.Halterpreferred
guidednotetaking.Whenaskedaboutaddressingmultipleintellegences,Mrs.Calhoun
mentionedthatshelikestogiveherstudentschoiceasfarasrecordingcontentandchanging
upthemethodssheusesinclassroomguidedpractice.Someexamplesshehighlightedwere
marchingaroundtheclassroomtoillustratepoeticmeterandcreatingskitsandtableausforthe
morekinestheticstudentsartisticcomponentstotheirprojectsandassessmentsforthestudents
withmorespatialinclinationsandturnandtalksforthemoreinterpersonalmindedstudents.
Mr.Halter,ontheotherhand,preferstoaddressthestudentsmultipleintelligencesinhis
assessmentprojectsgivingeachoneseveralcomponentsthatappealtothestudentsstrengths.
Bothteachersreportthatinchanginguptheirlessondeliveryandgivingtheirstudentsmultiple


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opportunitiestoaccessthematerialthroughtheirownlearningstylesandparticularintelligences,
thestudentsaremoreengagedanddemonstratemasteryoftheconceptsmoreoften.
Theteachers,however,differedintheirvaluationofcollaborativelearning.Mrs.
Calhounfoundthatifstudentsweregivenachecklistoftasks/timelimitsthatrequireteam
effortfromallinvolved,theresultstendedtobebetter.Incontrast,Mr.Halterwasofadifferent
opinionstating,Itcansometimescreatefrustrationamongstudentswhotaketheopportunity
seriouslyversusthosewhodonot.Sometimesstudentsmightfeelasiftheircontributionsarenot
valued.While,Idonotoffergroupprojectsinmymathclasses,Idoencouragecollaborative
workespeciallywhenitcomestopracticingmathconceptsintroducedduringthelesson.The
studentsaremotivatedtohelpeachothercometoacommonanswer,andwithfewexceptions,
findthepracticevaluable.IfeelthatImustinterjectthefactthattruesociallearningisntonly
comprisedofgroupwork,andthisisamisconceptionamongmanyeducators.Iusedtohave
thisbeliefaswell.Inreadingourclasstext,IfindthatIwouldclassifymyinteractivelectures
(lectureswhereIoftenpauseandaskquestionsorencouragediscussionofthetopicsIjust
introduced)associallearning.
Inconsideringassessmentreadiness,Ifoundthatbothteachersbelievedheavilyin
formativeassessment.Severaltechniquesforthismentionedwereclassdiscussionand
responsestodirectedquestions,visitinggroupsduringcollaborativeworktimetogaugetheir
understandingoftheconcepts,scanningnotebooksandorganizers,askingindividualstudentsfor
theirreasoningandexplanationsforresponsestoquestions,classskillsheetanswers,informal
outlinesforessays(Mrs.Calhounssummativeassessmentswereoftenintheformofessays),
andsuchthingsasKahoot!Quizzesforimmediateresultsastoreadiness.Itooamabelieverin


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formativeassessment.Whilethismaylookdifferentformathematicsthanforthehumanities(I
relyonsuchthingsasexitticketsandlessonquizzes),itstillisaninvaluablemethodforjudging
readinessforsummativeassessment.
Finally,intryingtocomeupwithabroaderunderstandingofstudentslearninginthe
classroom,Idiscussedtheemotionalhealthofstudentsandhowtheyhelpthosestudentswhoare
strugglingwithvariousissuesalongwithtryingtoaccessknowledge.Bothteacherstalkedabout
theimportanceofofferingthestudentsasafeplacewheretheirlifeexperiencescanbefactored
intotheirlearning.Mrs.Calhounspokeabouteasinguponclassroomengagementexpectations
whenherstudentsneededspaceandofferingextratimeforassignmentsespeciallyifthereis
sicknessorbereavementinvolved.Shealsosaid,Inregardtoemotionsingeneral,its
importanttoaccessfeelgoodemotionswithlearningexperiences.Opportunitiesforlaughter,
camaraderie,andexcitementhelpstudentswanttolearn.Mr.Haltermentioneddiscussing
challenginglifeeventsintheclassbecausehefeelsitbringsthestudentsclosertogether,and
thestudentsfeelasiftheyhavesupportfromteachersandclassmates.Ingeneral,gettingto
knowonesstudentsisessentialforateacher.Thiswillassistherinaddressingherstudents
emotionalneedsaswellashelpingherstudentstofeelthattheirpresenceinherclassroomis
valuedandaccepted.

CONCLUSION
InconsideringMrs.CalhounandMr.Haltersresponses,inconjunctionwithourclass
textandlookingatmyownpractice,Iamconvincedthattheteachtothetestmethodutilized
soofteninthestandardizedtestsuccessratingmodeldoesnotaddressstudentsdifferent


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learningstylesandintelligences,nordoesitenablestudentstoformadeeperunderstandingof
concepts.WhileIagreethattheremustbesomesortofassessmentinordertoevaluatestudents
understandingofconceptsandtogiveabenchmarkforthenextgradeandbeyondinschool,Ido
notbelievethatstandardizedtestingistheanswer.Studentslivesandexperiencesarenot
standardized,sothewayinwhichweassesstheirlearningshouldnotbeaswell.Ifourgoalisto
helpschoolchildrendevelopintoforwardthinking,innovativemembersofachangingsociety,
thenadoptingteachingmethodsthattakeintoconsiderationtheirdiversityoflearningstyles,
differentintelligences,andemotionalwellbeingandemotionalintelligenceisthelogicalwayto
organizeourlessonsandassessments.Unfortunately,thepracticehasnotcaughtupwiththe
research,andIfearthattheideaofstandardizedtestingwillstillbearoundforsomemoreyears.
Whileeducationseemstobeeverseekingimprovement,andthosechangescancomefastand
furiously,forsomereasonthisrelianceoncookiecuttertestshasnotbudged.Hopefully,Ican
applythetheoriesandmethodslearnedinthisclasstomyownclassroom,andsomehowhelpthe
studentsbecomeforwardthinkersandinnovatorswhileatthesametimelearningtheinformation
theywillneedtopassthesebigscaleassessments(CollegeBoard,Iamlookingatyou).Iwill
considermyselftobeasuccessasaneducatorwhenmystudentsdemonstrateknowledgewith
enthusiasmandshowdifferentwaystocometothesameconclusions.ItisthenthatIwill
believetheyhaveachievedtheirownlearninggoals.

WorksCited
Ansary,Tamim.EducationatRisk:FalloutfromaFlawedReport.
Edutopia
.GeorgeLucas
EducationalFoundation.Web.9March2007.
Calhoun,Sharon.PersonalInterview.10June2016.
DarlingHammond,Linda,etal.
TheLearningClassroom
.Detroit:AnnenbergMedia,2003.
Print.
Gardner,DavidP.etal.
ANationatRisk:TheImperativeforEducationalReform
.U.S.
DepartmentofEducationArchives.April1983.Web.14June2016.
www2.ed.gov/pubs/NatAtRisk/risk.html
Halter,Vincent.PersonalInterview.10June2016