Episode 011 Reflection
Reflection makes us better educators, and writing is a good way to wrestle with thoughts half formed and inarticulate. This is my (Michael Ralph) reflection on the discussion of a prior episode.
Differentiation becomes a much more manageable mountain to climb once you embrace other effective teaching practices, such as problem-based learning and inquiry experimentation. Those tenants have been a part of my practice long enough that I often struggle to empathize with teachers for whom differentiation is a more negotiable practice. This month’s discussion helped lay bare some of my own shortcomings in trying to help support others in making differentiation a part of their daily practice.
The article references shortcomings of professional development events and management personnel who fail to identify all the tacit knowledge they apply when designing classroom plans that include differentiation for student needs. I have made this mistake when I assume other teachers have the same priorities as me, especially regarding things like my devotion to inquiry and my commitment to mastery learning. I will focus time and energy to ensure that this coming semester I find ways to discuss components of my practice that facilitate differentiation when I talk with students for whom that implicit knowledge is not intuitive.
The biologist in me enjoys every opportunity to link neurobiology to the educational process. ALL learning happens in the brain, so every educator must have a working understanding of how brains encode and retrieve information. My focus in my biology education was not organismal, so this month’s study was an opportunity to stretch and grow in my competency.
I did not (and still don’t) have a mastery of all the brain regions considered in the fMRI scans of the students. As I discuss this work with colleagues I will need to perform supplemental research to better understand the connections and implications of the various regions involved at each stage of the problem solving process. I have professional aspirations at the intersection of psychology/brain function and education, so this opportunity for growth is in an professional domain that I have made a priority.
Woodruff and I have a practice behind the scenes during which we always identify an area of improvement before each show. The first show is not as good as this 11th episode, and we hope the 35th episode will be even better. That consistent growth requires intentional effort and reflection, and our practice of picking a point of revision each month is part of our commitment to that growth.
My area of growth was to improve the quality of the new Peer Review segment. I wanted our comments and responses to your remarks to be more meaningful. I was pleased with our ability to better engage with each community piece, and I hope that this online presence will further improve our interactions with all of you.