Or, You think I’d learn, Pt. 2.
Okay, forget the self-deprecating title of this post: I don’t think I’m stupid, but I sometimes wonder why I just don’t seem to learn. I even have a visualization for the sort of philosophy I have on teaching and learning:
|Old experiences and ideas||+||New data and information||=||New understanding of the world||→||Transforming self and external reality|
Yet, when it comes to stuff that works, I don’t seem to have mastered the idea of thinking back to my best lessons and reflecting as such: Self? [Yes?] You remember that lesson that went really well? [Yeah, it was awesome; you–er, we rocked it in the class.] Well, maybe I should try that again. If it works one time, then maybe it might fit here, don’t you think? [That’s a great idea! Go you! Er, us!]
Case in point: today.
I had a very random idea yesterday/today (I can’t honestly remember when it hit me). I’d been working on Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum” with my juniors, and having missed several days with these stupid little rocks, I needed to come back with a different way of coming at a discussion. I thought back a little to the Socratic seminar/circle that I did with my other set of juniors last spring and how they responded to it. I figured it was worth a try.
And right I was: I got a similar response to what my juniors in student teaching told me, which was overly positive with maybe a few points for improvement or considerations about when it would be best to use.
You know what’s funny about this, too? I only did it in student teaching once, and only with one course, and I never revisited it. It worked, and I ignored it, not just for the remaining part of my 14-week student teaching experience but for nearly a semester of my first year of teaching. I just want to scream at myself: [Are you even paying attention anymore?!]
I think I am absolutely justified in being angry at myself here. What have I been thinking, that methods that didn’t work for me one day, and the next, and the next…ad infinitum, will suddenly start working the next day? Have I so quickly forgotten my model of assimilating new information with old and coming up with new understandings perpetually?
Obviously so, but I guess now is a good time to start taking note.
It has really been a rough semester, and I have had a lot of challenges. But I have to take the lion’s share of the blame for the fact that I’m not succeeding like I should.
But it’s like I said last year (has it really almost been a year?): Today – or next Monday, or next semester, or whenever, but preferably today – is another day to do things right. And I hope I can remember that, assimilate it, and be transformed by it.
And hopefully for the better.