Pedagogical Autobiography: Future Questions

As I think about the course that I have just taken, and the impact on my classroom, I have had a number of questions come to mind about my own practice. The process of moving through the autobiography has also inspired a lot of questions about what I do to help and hurt my students progress towards who God wants them to be. In no particular order here are my questions.

How can I better integrate faith into learning? In an excellent blog post Dan Beerens lists 9 qualities of discipleship. As I looked at this list several of them are sorely missing from my physics classroom. My goal for the year is to integrate each characteristic at least one time into what I am learning with my students. This has proven to be a much harder goal than I thought. This also means that there is a lot left to my work on integrating faith into what I learn. It inspires great questions like: How do I worship in science class? What idolatry will you find as a scientist? How can science build community, or where can we keep it from breaking down community? How can we use science to bring joy and heal brokenness? Palmer says, "Transformed by love we use our minds to recall and recreate the community in which we were created, to know the world in the same spirit in which we are known." (page 16) Becoming disciples of Christ through physics class and through better teaching will move us to know more about who made us, and everything that Gods made for us.

How does a technology rich environment fit with and change learning? This question is always on my mind as I learn in my own classroom, but also as I am called from time to time to lead the learning of the faculty on the same topic. We all, students and teachers a like, have laptops at my school. How does that change what I do? What needs to be discarded and what needs to be enhanced? Palmer says, "truth seeks us as well." (pg 72) Laptops make this happen at a pace that makes the truth of this statement obvious. How to I harness that power. The laptops also allow us to explore to every end the wonderful ideas that Duckworth speaks of. They are a limitless tool in my limited hands.

What is a physics teacher's response to wolframalpha? It essentially eliminates the need for all math issues in my class, and If I can get the students to use it, it changes fundamentally what physics I can teach. What physics should be taught if no math is required to know it? What problems can we solve when we do not need to know math but can apply math? How does the experience change? This may seem like a simple question but it is not even remotely easy. I feel like this is a physics teachers Gutenberg press. Using the ideas of Smith, how do I use this tool to, "help" students rather than "teach" students to join the physics club. Certainly some in this club would just outlaw this new tool. Others would embrace it to the disinterest of the problem solvers attracted to the field. How do I find the balance?

How can I be less helpful? Teachers are too often jumping in to help rather than stepping back to watch and learn what the learners are learning. I do this all the time. Sometimes the best thing is to wait, and I do not wait enough. I want to strive to never ask questions that I know the answer to ahead of time. In "On Listening to What the Children Say" Vivian Gussin Paley listened so well. I want to provide for myself that opportunity more often. How do I find the time and the patience to do that? I want to have the same look when a learner gets an answer right as wrong. I do not what to "fill[ed] in the blanks" myself. (page 360)

This is of course not all the questions, but the ones that have really driven my reflections this fall. I will try to keep updating with new questions. 

Here is an interesting book list to explore some of the ideas we read about together.
2 responses
"How can I be less helpful?" This is counter-intuitive to students, as well. Some students thrive in this environment. Others are left feeling insecure without the answers they are expected to 'know.' Have you found ways to give them assurance and encouragement in the midst of changing the 'rules'?
The comfort comes purely from relationship. If they know you care and they know you value what they are doing and they know you want them to understand they will mostly be comfortable. Some of the best game players will, unfortunately, never be comfortable with it.