Sometimes, I imagine myself as the offspring of Meryl Streep and Sherlock Holmes. It’s a strange combination, but a good teacher has to be able to do a lot of different things.
It’s the Theater!
A good lesson is embedded in a larger story, it doesn’t stand alone. It draws you in, enticing you to turn the next page, to see where the story goes. It makes you feel something – excitement, curiosity, outrage, wonder. It engages your mind, stretching you, making you consider things you’d never thought of before. It leaves you asking for more.
A good lesson is also a little bit of theater. The rise and fall of voices, the pregnant pause, the excited exclamation – they all are part of the tale.
While I can tell a reasonably good story, creating theater is not my natural bent. I have to work at the drama that Ms Streep creates so effortlessly.
Elementary, my dear Watson
While Sherlock Holmes found everything to be elementary, I have found the detective work necessary to figure out how my students learn to be anything but elementary. Figuring out how my students think is hard. Figuring out why they aren’t learning despite my best efforts is hard work. One of the best resources I have found is Twice-Exceptional Gifted Children by Beverly A. Trail, EdD. It is a book about twice-exceptional children, but is a great resource for any teacher trying to understand how a student thinks and the strategies that may help them to be more successful.
The book has an easy-to-use assessment that helps teachers to see discrepancies that might indicate a student is twice exceptional. It also has a great chapter on supporting cognitive styles. It outlines characteristics and strategies for the auditory/visual dimension, sequential/conceptual dimension, and convergent/divergent dimension. (I have found figuring out where a student falls on the conceptual/sequential spectrum helps me a lot in teaching math.) It also has information to help support students with executive functioning difficulties (including organizational/planning handouts), students with attention issues, and students with sensory integration challenges. It is my go-to when I feel like I have hit a wall in terms of meeting a student’s needs.