Teacher Training Conference Daily Blog: Day 2

This is day two of the Rockbridge Teacher Training. I have another 7 or so typed pages of notes, which I am condensing down for you.

Here are the talks I was challenged, inspired, convicted, and awed by today:
Lesson Planning at the Secondary Level
Overview of The 7 Laws of Teaching
The “Why, What, How, Where, When, and Who” of Music Education
The Imperative of Beauty and the Creative Call  
Sights and Sounds of the Grammar and Dialectic (Logic)
The First Two Weeks of Grammar

Here are some notes from each. Make sure not to miss the fun exercise at the end involving Ben Stein.

Lesson Planning at the Secondary Level
Basically, the session that kicked me in the pants more than any other was Michael McKenna's "Secondary School Lesson Planning," where I was made to realize I and the teachers of my school have a huge task ahead ourselves:
First (if we haven't already) we need to make a comprehensive curriculum guide, lining out what each grade needs to learn and what every subject in those grades need to cover each year.
Second, if they don't already do so, all my teachers need to make comprehensive lesson plans for all our classes. He gave us a guide to follow for all of this.

NOTE: A Lesson plan needs to show NOT what you're going to teach but what the students are going to DO.

Overview of The 7 Laws of Teaching
This was a pretty comprehensive overview of the classic Classical Education book The 7 Laws of Teaching (click the link to view it and you can view a free online version here). Read it if you get the time!

Here are two points from the talk not exactly related to the 7 laws:
1. There's a verse we often pass right over in Luke 2: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.”

Jesus grew in 
wisdom: intellectual development
stature: physical development
favor with God: spiritual development
favor with men: emotional and social development

These 4 areas of development in a child can form a square. As educators we need to ensure each side grows evenly. We can't value one over the other otherwise their growth will become way out of balance.

2. Great advice: If you want a student to remember material from class, spend a third of your class time reviewing.

The “Why, What, How, Where, When, and Who” of Music Education
This class consisted of some background information as to why music is so important in education along with a number of practical tips and exercises for teaching music to children.

Here are some points:

--music teachers can easily make connections to math talking about division and fractions when you talk about note values and rhythms and math teachers can do the reverse.
--history teachers can talk about how the different “isms” of history parallel the “isms” of music
--Literature teachers can parallel the pairing of poetic texts with music
--we need to begin our music programs early. Children develop their music aptitude until age 9, which is the point at which their brains are the most elastic.

All in all, this has motivated me to want to figure out how to offer an introductory music class for all our students, even if it is just to teach them the basics of singing and sight reading. 

The Imperative of Beauty and the Creative Call  
Here are some random points that called out to me:
--Rationality is impotent on its own. That we would so fill our students with story and image and song their world's will be filled with the wonder of learning and not just the knowledge of it.
--The act of creating is an essential part of students growing in wisdom.
--Beauty calls us. Beauty bids all things to itself. Beauty calls us outside ourselves to seek union with the creator of that beauty.
--What do we want for our student's the most? What is their highest good? We desire them to be worshipers, don't we? They're all going to have separate vocations someday but their shared vocation is to be worshipers of God.
--Let us not just give mental ascent to beauty, to teach it to our students, but lets soak in it. As teachers are we taking time to bask in beauty itself?

Sights and Sounds of the Grammar and Dialectic (Logic)
Young and old children love security and order. It is not meant to impose a rigid uniformity where no surprises are allowed to happen, but predictability gives security. 

The speaker (Michael McKenna) told a good story of one class going through their normal daily routine even when the teacher didn't show up for the class. They were working quietly for minutes without her because they knew what to do, until one of the students got up and asked Mr. McKenna. They were able to do this because she had built the routine into them, even though she had fallen asleep in the car on her lunch break!

And here's some wonderful advice for disciplining children:
1. We cannot actually lead our students to true repentance. This is the Holy Spirit's job. 
2. But we can teach them about repentance, which is confession of sin, request for forgiveness, and turning the other way (repentance).
3. A BIG PROBLEM: eventually, a student who is savvy enough will figure out the "getting in trouble" routine and give you the answers you want to hear when you're disciplining them. The way around this is to develop a real and mutual relationship with students. That way, you will know when they're being fake or evasive and can address it right there. When trust is built up you can be honest with them and hold them accountable.

The First Two Weeks of Grammar
This was an extremely detailed overview of everything grammar teachers need to do to be ready for school. I wish my teachers were able to be here for this! I'll have to get them a copy of the notes when I get home.
Here were the basic categories for getting ready, each of which included their own long checklist:
--Personal preparation
--Room set-up
--Tasks for volunteers
--Knowing all the classroom routines
--Priorities to coordinate with the head-teacher or administrator
--Lesson plans

A lot of this material reminded me of what is in this great book:
The First Days of School by Harry K. Wong

There were so many great tips in this talk that I've decided to put it all in a separate post, which you can find here:
Planning the First Weeks of School

A couple of miscellaneous notes:
During two of the sessions I learned about a model of learning called Bloom's Taxonomy, which they linked to Classical Education's progression of learning in the Trivium.

In this model:
Knowledge and Comprehension = the Grammar stage
Application and Analysis = the Logic (or Dialectic) stage
Synthesis and Evaluation = the Rhetoric stage.

One of the more fun parts of the day:
Michael McKenna gave us a great exercise as teachers by having us watch a clip from Feris Buehler's Day Off.

His questions were: What did the teacher do wrong in this clip and what could he have done to actually teach and engage with his students?

Related Posts:
Teacher's Conference Introduction
Teacher's Conference Day 1
Planning the First Weeks of School

1 comment:

April said...

These all sound terrific, Chris. Can't wait to read your notes!