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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Meddler in the Middle: Erica McWilliam

I was fortunate to hear Erica McWilliam present last night at Methodist Ladies' College as part of the IB Schools Visiting Speaker Series. A lot of what she spoke about resonated with me, not only as a teacher librarian, but as a classroom teacher.

Being a problem solver, I started to think about what hurdles teachers have to overcome in order for their classrooms to change and evolve. What support do they need? What support can I provide as a Teacher Librarian?

One item that was spoken about last night was how the start of a lesson is so important for the student. I recently observed some classes in a flexible learning space and the teacher took 20 minutes to do the roll and get the class started. Half the kids fell asleep!  Dr. Adam Fraser would say that it is important to transition the student into your classroom space, but then you need to get the kids on task and engaged.  How can we encourage independent and learning and thinking without getting bogged down in administration?

Attention spans are short in the students who are coming through and their learning needs are different to what they might have been 50 years ago.

Erica spoke of an example of a teacher using a tennis ball to start every language lesson with french. If the kids are working on a project, perhaps they pick up their project folder. If students have to hand in homework, you can tick off their work and do the roll at the same time.

There are strategies that you can use to identify who is or isn't in the class without stealing time from the curriculum.

I am still unpacking lots of ideas that I gathered from this talk, but I wanted to start with the simplest idea that I took away from Erica. 

Some further reading on starting your lesson.
Here is another great lecture from Erica.

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