This school year, I'm beginning work on my masters degree in educational leadership. The first course in that program has just finished, and I thought I'd include two papers that I wrote for the class here.
The first is one I wrote in response to and article by Sarah Fine, where I discuss what I see as my next steps in developing PBL and helping it shed it's oppressive history. I read new educational theory as part of the pre-work for this class, and this paper helped me get my thoughts in order.
The second paper was my final paper for the class, where I summarize what I learned and how the class had developed my thinking. At the end of this course, we were tasked with a self assessment, something that I have never done before, but that I enjoyed and will probably adapt to use with my own class.
For teachers that are beginning to teach at a distance using videoconferencing tools (like me), my major takeaways from this learning were these:
1. Use small groups/breakouts as much as is appropriate. The best learning happens in small discussions. You may apply accountability techniques for what happens in the breakout room, but don't jump in unannounced, let the kids have some responsibility for doing the work,
2. Ask your class what they want to learn. If possible, only teach them things that they ask about. A good place to start it to give them something to do in your subject area and then see what questions they have about doing the work. This is much better then telling them everything you think they will need to know.
3. Related to #2, student voice and experience should lead as much as possible. Teaching to student questions is one way to do this. Negotiating about videoconference etiquette is another. By centering everything on the student experience you will avoid becoming the teacher you hated in school and motivated you to become a teacher yourself.
Philip Estrada is a teacher at High Tech High Media Arts in San Diego California. He teaches Physics by having kids build things in a woodshop.