Today we had our upper school faculty meeting (read: high school teachers meeting). The topic: learning styles. It was led by our really wonderful — and capable — and amazing learning specialists.
In the meeting were two activities I want to talk about.
One is we had a panel of students (mainly seniors) come in and give us — without using any teachers’ names — their opinion of what works for them in a class. Some things they noted were that doing problems over and over (drill practice) worked for them in math. And having teachers pause every so often for students to spend two minutes (no more!) doing a “check in” problem, or discuss a new concept, was useful. They also discussed the importance of pacing, and having a really explicit lesson plan (“by the end of today, you will be able to …”).
I thought having students give their perspective was so much more powerful than anything else we could have done for this meeting. (See this previous post for more: A letter sent back in time.) I would have actually loved a bit of a Q&A with them. (I really wanted their candid perspectives of group work; what goes through their head when the teacher says its time for groupwork, and how the dynamic actually works out in most of their classes.)
The second activity was less impressive, and actually a little frustrating. It was an activity where we had to answer questions, and walk around the room, to determine what kind of learner we are: kinesthetic, auditory, or visual. And even though it was mentioned that these categories had gradations, and that no one fits perfectly in any of these categories, we were asked to discuss how our own learning style affected the way we teach.
The problem is, I had watched this video that had been circulating through the blogosphere in August, and I I really buy into the message.
(Read the comments at Eduwonkette for some good stuff.)
So I’m not sure how to deal with the concept of learning styles. And according to the video, I’m not sure that should really be the central focus of how I plan my lessons.