“Most classrooms are oriented more to the present and the future than to the past. Such an orientation means that students (and teachers) find it easier to discard what has happened and to move on without taking stock of the seemingly isolated experiences of the past.”
–Learning Through Reflection by Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick
As I sat at a session by The Paper Graders at NCTE17 called Stop Grading, Start Reflecting, I was struck by what an odd job teaching is. In most professions the sign that a lot of work is getting done is to see the worker actively working. We know mechanics are working when we see them under cars and we know writers are working when we see their fingers dance across keyboards. This is not the case in teaching. In teaching, student growth is the work, and often that growth is at its highest in the moments where the worker (the teacher) is not actively standing and delivering in front of students.
Of course, this is not to say that teachers aren’t central to student learning. They are. But their role is different. In that way teachers are more like farmers than anything else. Like farmers, their job is to properly prepare the ground, plant ideas at the right time and with the right spacing from each other, and then nurture, troubleshoot, and supplement as the tiny tendrils of understanding slowly turn into solid stalks rich with the fruit of knowledge. Continue reading “The Forgotten ‘R’: Using Reflection to Speed Student Learning”