These are notes I wrote down on constructivist teaching and learning. Here, Dee Grant, a constructivist teacher, shows us how creativity finds its way into her classroom:
“One of the most important things a teacher can be in the classroom is a genuine person. If you’re mad, you’re mad. If you’re happy, you’re happy.
So I had those whole things in my mind in college. I had decided to be a facilitator more than a teacher. Because there’s a difference about being a facilitator. My goal is to show – is to expose kids to things and let them get off.”
“Dee has also spent an intensive amount of time during the first month of school teaching the students a six step problem solving process [that] can be used for work completion assistance, conflict with a peer, or any problem that arises:
- What needs to be decided?
- What are your choices? (You always have choices.)
- Think about the choices.
- Choose the best alternative.
- Do it.
- Think back over your decision.Did you feel good about what you did? Did you hurt someone’s feelings? Did you find yourself in trouble? If you did then you didn’t make a good decision. Don’t repeat it.”
“One of the things that I have learned time and again as a teacher (for most lessons must be repeated before I learn them) is how students will go to great lengths to combat boredom. If I organized an activity that had all the flavor of salt-free saltines, they would very quickly add a wide range of hot and spicy toppings to that dull educational cracker. It was up to me, I found, to be open to the input of the kids, to their creativity in response to my boring teaching.”
“Perhaps the most important thing that I did was give them the permission to indulge and pursu their interests in an academic setting where students interests are often secondary. This involved my giving the students permission to race ahead of me, moving in front of my supervision, moving beyond the immediate sphere of my control.”
“I had to trust them enough to allow them to revise my plan into their plan, knowing that they could transform it into something of greater personal relevance and meaning, knowing that they would tune it to the rhythms and concerns of their own lives. Trusting them meant backing off, staying in my own emotional space, not jumping in every time I saw a possible problem, not allowing my own need to be helpful or be in charge get in the way.
“There was a strange moment when I sat back watching my students huddled under the desk, trading enthusiastic whispers back and forth with great urgency, when I felt like they didn’t need me at all. I would have to dim my own lights so that others could have room to shine.”
Source: Engaging Troubling Students: A Constructivist Approach, Scott Danforth and Terry Jo Smith