Why Didn't I Learn This in College?®

WHYWorkshopCollageA Workshop Series for Educators with 0-3 Years of Experience

Because participants in many of our workshops ask, “Why didn’t we learn this in college?” that question provided the inspiration for the title of this multiple day series for teachers new to the classroom. This title is in no way meant to condemn those who direct our collegiate experiences. The realities are that we may well have studied these topics and earned a good grade on a test over the theoretical aspects of this information but had no hooks on which to hang the information, that we took an alternative approach to entering the profession, that our focus was elsewhere at the time or perhaps, in fact, it was not taught. Whatever the case may be, teachers new to the classroom clearly need support and the opportunity for collegial discussions during their first years of classroom work.

Focus Questions

  • What is a learning-centered environment and what do I do to create such an environment?
  • How do I translate “beginning with the end in mind” into planning and pacing for the year, the unit, and the lesson?
  • What are systems, procedures, and routines for organizing my professional and instructional materials, the learners, and the classroom learning environment?

Practical in nature, the workshop series is grounded philosophically by the even bigger essential question, “What do schools and classrooms look like when they are organized around the commitment to the achievement of high standards by all students?” A focus on building a positive and productive learning environment rather than an environment based on compliance and control seems to be an important first step. That has to be combined with the eternal quest for systems that work for handling the paper flow to and from and within the classroom, facilitating the work of large numbers of people, and to not only acquiring the necessary instructional tools but also being able to find them when we need them!

F. J. McDonald wrote in 1980 that within the first six months of their teaching experience, teachers adopt a teaching style that will be the basis of their decision-making throughout their careers. If beginning with chapter one and marching through a text, focusing on compliance and control, or activity-driven decisions frame that style, we will never reach our goal of high achievement for all students. It is, therefore, essential that we “begin with the end in mind” and provide guidance for those new to our profession as they learn to do the same with their learners.