Class 1: Question the Document ~ Design A Teacher


Our class got off to a good start on August 26th. It’s great bunch of students – four undergrads and eight in the MAT program. All of them are just beginning their student teaching this fall term.

As an ice breaker I handed them a copy of my 1971 student teaching evaluation (2 page pdf) Quite a relic – I’m surprised I still have it. I noted that it’s a historic document and asked them to examine it with a critical eye considering a number of questions: Who created it and why? Historic context? Point-of-view? What could we learn from it? What other sources might we need to collaborate? A great discussion followed ranging from how historians look at documents to how pitiful this evaluation was as an feedback tool for the student teacher (me!)

Next I gave them an activity to design a great history teacher. I applied a variation of “Tool 13: Brainstorm, Group, Label” from my Literacy Strategies Tool Kit (free PDF)

  • Asked them to brainstorm all the words or phrases they can associate with “a great history teacher.”
  • Gave them Post-Its and asked them to write one associated word or phrase on each sheet.
  • Put them in groups and asked them to share their Post-its and thinking. Then design an illustration that captured their collective thinking. And be prepared to share that with the class.
  • Working in fours they synthesized their individual brainstorming into a collective vision on large paper, then took turns sharing and responding to questions.

What followed was a lively Q and A session as we explored the attributes they thought went into an exemplary teacher.

Finally, I logged them into their new LearningCatalytics SRS accounts and gave them a series of questions to help me get to know them better. On the tech side I was interested in their devices, digital skills, social media profile, and some of the programs they were comfortable using. From an instructional perspective I asked them to describe their goals for the course.

I learned a lot this first class – foremost that I’m fortunate to have such a thoughtful, well-spoken and clever group of people to work with. From a class design perspective I found out that many the elements I want to include in the course are well-aligned with their learning goals.

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