Saturday 20 April 2019
At some point or another all us physics teachers, IB or otherwise, come to a realisation. Our students didn't understand a concept to the extent that we'd hoped. This could be because of a lack of preparation or consolidation by the student, or because we delivered the content on a plate on the assumption that they were engaging with our activities and explanations.
The nature of our often intangible subject means that misconceptions are inevitable. However, left unchecked, our students can begin to feel isolated, unworthy or guilty. In the worst of circumstances, teachers and students alike can 'give up' on one another. To guard against these emotions, we can take a step that might at first glance appear contradictory: assess more.
Now, I'm no advocate for whole-school exam weeks taking up precious learning hours except when it's crucial to grade students, perhaps for university predictions or during revision periods. Instead, I'd suggest that we assess our students regularly, every lesson if we can. This requires us to make time for formative assessment tasks but will pay back enormously with the immediacy of spotting problems and reducing the number of formal tests.
This is something I've still got to work on. But the multiple-choice questions and tests here on ThinkIB have become a lifeline as grab-and-go lesson starters and plenaries. I also recall 'Plenaries on a Plate' as being a useful tool during my beginning teacher years.
We shouldn't ever lose sight of the importance of simple verbal and non-verbal communication too, which is where a 'teacher as facilitator' approach can be so effective. Next week in this video series, I'll tell you a little more about our Activities.