Improvisation workshop with Raquell Holmes

I recently attended a workshop intending to improve teaching delivery by introducing improvisational methods all while ensuring that there is mutual respect between student and teacher.

Raquell opened the session by reading a passage that highlighted a notion that has been brought up numerous times throughout the fall – that a teacher is not an authoritarian leader over the students. Instead, they are the guides that know the terrain of knowledge so well that they can lead the student to the truth through any path. I truly believe that this mentality in a teacher applies to almost any learning situation. Whether it is students coming from an upper class background or from low-income families, the answers and, more importantly, reasons why they learn must be approached on their own terms. Without an intrinsic motivation, it is impossible to conceive why students would care about any of the material they are hearing.

Another component of the workshop was a simulated teaching situation where I presented a recent lesson to the other participants. We went through three scenarios where: 1.) I taught in my normal style and the students were half-attentive, half-rowdy 2.) I taught as an angry 5 year old and the students were the same 3.) I taught as a calm 75 year old grandfather and the students were the same. Through these scenarios I was able to determine what parts of my delivery were effective and which wasn’t. I realized that I had a hard time motivating the kids to be engaged due to my lackluster delivery and this was improved when I was a 5 year old. On the other hand, my frustration at many things happening around me (questions, talking, etc.) was resolved by being a calm grandfather. I have taken these suggestions and adapted them to my current teaching.

Teaching is incredibly unpredictable and it is altogether too easy to be derailed from a well-planned lesson by uncontrollable events. When we meet with Racquell in January I hope she will be able to introduce techniques to improve thinking on the fly.


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