Monthly Archives: December 2014

Students learning about agriculture at the fairgrounds

Teach Me, Don’t Tell Me

Teach me, don’t tell me what I need to know.  Show me how to do something with interactions and examples, and I will be glad to prove to you how I have grown.
There are many things I do not know how to do. For example,  I cannot change the oil in my car, I cannot solve multi-stepped algebraic equations without assistance, and I cannot make a pot of rice without it burning or sticking to the pot.  With direction, and good instruction, my thought is that I would be able to successfully complete those tasks (well maybe all but successfully cooking rice–that will never happen).  When I do not know how to do something, I could watch YouTube videos that would show me how to change my oil. I could read written instructions that I had printed out about solving math problems, or possibly, I could have someone show me how to problem solve in person.  BUT, what if I didn’t know how to find help?  What if I did not know what options were available for me?  What if I was a kid in a classroom, and was waiting for someone to mentor me… someone to show me instead of telling me what to do?  I would be in trouble.
So often teachers are busy with the lesson/end game/product, that the essential instruction is left out, or the teaching is not sufficient to guide students through the lessons.  Learning becomes less meaningful, or lost.  I have been guilty of providing bad instruction to my students. I hate to make mistakes, and I hate even more to admit that I have made mistakes.  Our kids do not know what bad instruction looks like (it’s the only instruction they know) but our students can feel what bad instruction looks like.  Students who are confused or lost will shut down during poor instruction.  Sometimes kids become disruptive when they do not understand why the day’s lesson is valuable.
Today I am thinking about good teaching practices. I have to remind myself that lessons taught within classrooms must be:  meaningful, insightful, goal-oriented, carefully cultivated, and purposeful.  If I can say yes to all of these adjectives, it is likely that whatever lesson I am trying to teach my students will stick with them.  If I do not know the purpose of my lesson, or if I am unable to explain to my children what my intentions for the day might be, I am also teaching them something…how to be ill-prepared, unsuccessful, and educationally inadequate.
Today’s reminder, “Teach me, don’t tell me what I need to know.  Show me how to do something with interactions and examples, and I will be glad to prove to you how I have grown.”
Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedin