Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Later that evening, it was time for another class at Hogwarts. This time, Matthew decided that he wasn’t going to have his students copy notes. He was going to read aloud to them and ask them to draw pictures of how they imagined gnomes. He was surprised at the outcome. As he read, Nathan drew a diagram and labeled it. He took notes on what Matthew was saying. When all was said and done, Nathan filled up almost four pieces of paper with drawings and words.
When I asked Matthew what made the difference, he admitted that this perplexed him but as he thought about it, he guessed it was because his teaching was “more inclusive.” He thought that allowing Nathan to draw really helped and he thought that because it was more about what Nathan was interested in, he was more willing to write and participate than he had been when Matthew was telling him what he should do.
As a teacher, and a teacher of teachers, I have been thinking a lot about what happened in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in my basement. When Matthew’s original plan wasn’t working, he made an attempt to change it. When his second plan didn’t get the results he wanted, he changed again. He didn’t complain that Nathan was defiant, hyper-active, ill-behaved, attention deficit, or simply incapable. He realized that the problem was his methodology and HE changed. And then suddenly, he had a successful student.
I think Matthew’s experience as a Dark Arts Instructor holds many lessons for us as educators. While some might attribute his attitude and success to magic (and the naiveté of youth), I think it’s more than that. I call it good teaching.