Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Studies in comparative pedagogy

Today's been a bit better. I've gotten a lot done, both research-wise and teaching-wise, I've met several more of my new students, made a Math Club meeting and a meeting with the high schooler I'm mentoring as she helps me run Super Saturday this semester, and I sat in on Lulabelle's sociology class, Social and Cultural Inquiry.

To me the most beneficial aspect of my sitting in on her classes (and her sitting in on mine...tomorrow it's her turn to come to Precalc) is the chance it gives me to observe many of the same pedagogical techniques I use in my classes in an entirely different disciplinary setting. Many of the same tactics are at play: small group work, writing-to-learn, brainstorming, student discussion. And while the groundwork for Lulabelle's course is entirely different from that of my own, the ends met by the tactics she employs are ultimately very similar: both of us want our students to learn how to think critically, how to assess data and other evidence, how to solve problems and make connections between the distinct and discrete bits of information they pick up here and there.

After 75 minutes had passed, I'd punctuated my notepad with no fewer than nine ?s indicating follow-up questions I had for her when we met after class:

"How do you draw the quiet ones into the discussion? Do you?"

"Have you read The experience economy?"

"Do you like people to raise their hands [before speaking]?"

"Might this work well with small 'break-out' groups to cogitate solutions before reconvening?"

"What's your motivation for reading the daily reading out loud? Is this to achieve a multimodal pedagogical style?"

And so forth. I'm finding our exercise in comparative pedagogical practices very fruitful; it's making me much more aware of my own choices as a teacher. I hope Lulabelle's getting as much out of it as I am.

Now, I'm off, into the rain. More soon, I'm sure!

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