Pedagogy is the art, science, or profession of teaching. The term generally refers to strategies of instruction or a style of instruction.
Some people learn how to be a teacher and some are born. I'm one of the lucky ones that was born a teacher. When I was a little girl, I used to round up all the neighbourhood kids to "play school." I was always the teacher! I made desks and chairs out of boxes if we didn't have enough little tables and I would lead "my class" in all the subjects by having them read aloud, do arithmetic skills, sing, and would even lead them in PE (running, throwing a ball, tumbling on the lawn, etc.)
My university courses weren't as effective in making me a good teacher as actually being in the Profession. Promoting effective learning can be complicated at any age or grade level. Research has found that students learn more when they:
* are actively engaged with the work
* have high but realistic expectations and goals
* receive regular, timely and specific feedback
* focus on what's most important
* are aware of their learning
* experience a balance of intellectual challenge and academic support
* are explicitly aware of preconceptions and prior learning and are willing to unlearn when necessary
* connect new and prior knowledge
* organise their learning in a meaningful way
* apply their learning to real-world situations
* they are assessed appropriately and understand the assessment criteria
* work regularly and productively with instructors
* work regularly and productively with other students
* invest time and make a committed effort.
A lot of the above came naturally to me, but I learned a lot more during my years in the profession of pedagogy. I loved every minute I spent with my students, even the ornery ones. Sometimes, they can be the most stimulating and rewarding part of a teacher's life. When you see a lightbulb go on or you see a positive change in attitude or effort you can't help but have a sense of Pride. I always felt that the best way to teach was to make the whole process FUN. If I wasn't having any fun, then the kids probably weren't, either.
I was looking through my HUGE Portfolio of photos, cards, and notes that I've received over the years from students and their parents, and there are so many fond memories there. On Saturday, in the local newspaper, there was an article about one of my former students who is now 20 years old and a student at a Canadian Christian college. My heart was full when I read he had received a special award for his work with underprivileged youth. I always knew he had it in him.
I occasionally see some of my former students around town. Some are working their way through university by waiting tables in local restaurants or in the grocery store. Some have even gone all the way to France, Germany, and/or Switzerland for higher education. I'm so proud of them. One day as I was out for a walk, a young man caught up to me and from his approximately 6'4" height, said, "Hi, Mrs. C!" He had been one of my favourite students who had a really playful way about him in school, but was not necessarily the "best" in the class. He is now a plumber's apprentice and is very happy with his life. To be remembered enough for him to stop and speak to me made my day!
But then there has been some sadness, too. In 2006, when I was at Vancouver International Airport, I ran into a former student and her mother. Mrs. V was sending her daughter Kate to England to stay with her aunt for a few months. She was so excited about her adventure and I was hoping we'd be on the same flight, but we weren't. Then when I was staying with my friends in Andover, I received word that Kate had become very ill and her aunt was sending her home. However, at Heathrow Airport, Kate collapsed and an ambulance rushed her to the hospital in London where she passed away within a few hours. So tragic! I wept for Kate and for her whole family. But I have photos of her and this note from her Mom the first year I taught Kate, which will help me to always remember her.
I wish you could see the photos, but of course I can't publish them here for privacy reasons. But here are just a few more little notes I received from other students. I love the ones that are handmade but I treasure all of them.
If anyone wants to know about "Backward Design" I'd be happy to explain it to you. It was one of my major assignments a couple of years ago when I went back to university to study higher levels of pedagogy.
NO? That's what I thought! Ha Ha