Saturday, December 05, 2009

Pedagogical Autobiography

I am taking a course at Calvin College this semester. It is called Theories of Instruction, EDUC 520. For this class I need to write a Pedagogical Autobiography. As I understand it pedagogy is why I do things the way I do in the classrooms that I am given each day. Your pedagogy is autobiographical because at some level it completely reflects your understanding of what works.

That last phrase, "what works," requires a little flesh before I leave it. I think what works is defined in hundreds of different ways in classrooms and schools and districts worldwide. Part of what this class helped me to discover is what I think about what works. I think what works in my estimation is setting up a room so that the highest number of students are willing and able to interact with the subject and ask everyone in the room about those interactions. In The Book of Learning and Forgetting Frank Smith puts it this way, "If the students are engaged in activities involving mathematics or science, or engineering, and they don't look bored or confused, we know they are learning about mathematics, science and engineering." (Pg 65) I have held that phrase in my head everyday since I read it. Few phrases so perfectly describe the criteria I have used over the years for throwing out plans and for keeping them. If you are one of my students or former students you can feel free to disagree, it would be really interesting if you did.

I have picked six things that define my classroom. Some of them more than others. I will tell a story about the practice or its origin and connect it to the reading I have done this semester. Along the way feel free to comment if you think it is different. Feel free to ask questions if I am not clear enough. Feel free to comment back your experience was different from how I portray it. Feel free to comment if you think I should have picked other, more defining, characteristics of my classroom.

Here are the six defining characteristics: Traditions, FruFra, Inquiry, Collaborative Problem Solving, Learners, Failure.

May be I should take one paragraph to explain why I am doing this in a public blog, especially one my students and colleagues might read. I asked to. I really struggled withe the decision to go to school to get my masters degree. It is not a convenient time at all to do this. Yet somehow it feels right. I would like to test my 10 years of learning from a personal learning network against traditional education. I would like to see what kind of impact I have in both places because of the work I do in both places. I am not sure why it did not strike me until the final paper that I should do all the course work in my blog, but now it seems obvious. Look for me to post all my work from the course here as time goes by, although the forum posting will not show up because it is integral to other people's work. I wonder why we keep this work behind the walls of a garden? I am going to try not to anymore.

Posted via email from Jim's posterous

1 comment:

Bob K said...

Jim - it's been fun reading this! I'm glad you're doing it on line.