Saturday, February 11, 2012

Whose Lesson Is It Anyway?

The truth is, my thoughts are often expressed through an inaudible mush of something vaguely similar to words.  Yet, though this happens to the best of us, it’s not ideal for the classroom.  In an attempt to mitigate the issue, Ariela and Audra held a “Find your Teacher Voice” workshop for the Rollins students this week.  Have it be known, this workshop was priceless.  And important.
We, as grad students, planned to spend the hour cycling through exercises and critiques.  Yet to our surprise and enjoyment these said exercises were actually improv.  Move Over, Drew Carey, because, let me tell you, the students of Classroom to Community are rib-shatteringly hilarious.  Fact.  But beyond belly laughs and discussing the importance of  “letting it all hang out” on recess, we learned many tangible skills of teaching.  We practiced: volume and projection, inflection, energy, movement, repair, autonomy, confidence, empowerment, progress, individualized examples, trust and awareness.  All in about 55 minutes. 
We all know that being yourself is where the magic happens, even at the head of a classroom.  But teaching is no easy or uniform task and fine-tuning your craft can bring vast and dynamic changes, regardless of your past experience.  Awareness of your environment, and the role you have in it, are poignant details we often lose.  But this presence might be a large part of what makes a great teacher and communicator.  Building off the energy of the moment is shockingly hard.  Picking yourself up after a stutter, adding a spontaneous 10 minutes to your 30-minute lesson, or inserting classy jokes into a discussion on free body diagrams all require brilliance.  But they also keep your kids in that room and in that moment, with you.  It seems that teaching is a lot like improv, only with lesson plans and ideally a well-versed background on the subject you’re discussing.  

--Erin McGrath Keyes

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