It is easy to talk about what could be, what should be and what other people could do. Instead, I would like to share what I have done, and what we are trying to do, as we engage in and embrace this learning evolution.
I began my career trying to emulate the teachers I remembered most, and through the stories I remembered from my school experiences. The teacher was mixing content, stories and weaving a narrative. While hardly an actor, there was something about the performance of teaching I really did enjoy. I would organize the desks in a circle, and while this was great for students to engage with each other, it also gave me centre stage. I was very focussed on the lesson plan and activities in the classroom. I saw myself as the expert, and it was up to me and the textbook to help students understand the content. Now, here is a true confession — I loved being the ‘sage on the stage’. In my Social Studies and English classes I would often retell the stories my memorable teachers had told me.
As I became more comfortable, I tried to allow students more of an opportunity to tell their stories. I worked to create situations where students could simulate the real world. In History class this might have been a United Nations role-play lesson, or reviewing a series of case studies in Law class. Students loved the examples drawn from the “real world”. In Law, we would study cases making headlines in the news, and other Social Studies’ classes leant themselves ideally to current events. I loved the relevance that came from these lessons, as well as the engagement. Combining my lectures with hands-on activities, like putting Louis Riel on trial, led to an even richer teaching and learning experience.