Reflection on: Why Students Don’t Like School by Daniel T. Willingham
In his book Willingham gave us numerous examples to get his points across. All that was good, but at times tedious reading…especially if you are not a “House” fan. However, when I got to the final two chapters in the book, I was ready to read and remember.
Technically I have been teaching for thirty years….technically. After reading the last two chapters, I am not so sure. Yes, I show up every day, do lesson plans, help students before or after school, touch base with parents, plan “exciting” activities, and attend all the meetings. But, is that all there is to teaching? Most of the time all of our preparing and presenting is done in isolation; no one is there to give us feedback regarding the effectiveness of the lesson. Willingham states that “Teaching, like any complex cognitive skill, must be practiced to be improved.” (p. 189) I want my students to improve and that requires practice. So, if I want “me” to improve as a teacher, I, too, must practice.
Willingham also gave three suggestions to become a better teacher: 1. Work on improving, 2. Seek feedback from someone in the field, and 3. Participate in activities for the sake of improvement, even when they don’t contribute to your job (p.195). This school year, I have a certified teacher coming into my classroom for two classes. I have been reviewing my plans with them, and getting feedback regarding content, presentation, and the success of the lesson. This is very enlightening. It has also brought back to focus valuable information from a class that I had taken 20 years ago called “TESA: Teacher Expectation Student Achievement.” Through a well thought out lesson, we can draw in the students regardless of ability, keep them interested, and guide them to success. Using "small" steps also helps. I use teacher editions to make notations regarding what worked and what did not, just like keeping a diary. Observing students while working is also enlighting. This does help you get to know your students better.
Over all, this was an interesting book that has made me stop and think about “Why Don’t Students Like School?” and what I can do to change that in my classroom.