Guilt and Learning

It is funny what you take from reading pedagogical literature, rarely what you think. This was the case when our reading group recently discussed Teach Like A Champion 2’s chapter on Lesson Structure.

Having seen plenty of years of CPD, I recognise a familiar pattern: recollection of past success, recollection of a gradual slippage and finally a commitment to reapply said technique. Normally there might be a twist or useful new stance, but it generally follows this pattern.

So it was with the technique Circulate (our main focus for the session). This is might sound negative, but it really was a useful and positive experience. An affirmation if you like.

We carried on to different techniques, but the one which really struck a chord with me  was ”At Bats”. In the briefest of thumbnail sketches, this is the belief that students will improve most through practice. (How to improve a baseball team?Get them better at swinging. How to do you do that? Give them bats.)

This in itself was not ground breaking, new or at any way at odds with my technique or philosophy. What was revelatory was the 2:30:30 suggestion. This commends that  when starting the individual work (at bats), you spend the first 2 minutes establishing a conducive working environment, then followed by pattern of 30 seconds of one on one help and 30 seconds of environment upkeep.

This lens highlighted a potential achilles heal to my teaching: I love explaining, coaching and learning, but can become engrossed in one student’s journey to understanding. This could give the space to be off task and could it lead to a reliance on my intervention?

So why guilt? Although never a teacher driven by some moral imperative, I do passionately care that learning is paramount. I guess that I had guilt in leaving a student unresolved, however this is a false dichotomy. A hubristic view on my own centrality to one individual student’s learning.

The 2:30:30 rule simply reordered what were already priorities into maybe a more effective order: Get the students working productively in a great environment will lead to my students’ journey to learning. No need for guilt in that.

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