My solution for missing the deadline for Week 1 of the MTBoS 2017 Blogging Initiative was to write a belated post (see below). Not wanting miss this opportunity again, I am already posting for Week 2! The focus: soft skills. That is, the part of teaching that is more about raising children, the crucial part you don’t realize about teaching until after you are standing in front of a room full of students.
Unfortunately, the more I reflect on my set of soft skills, the more I realize that, in SBG terms, they are in the “getting there” stage, and I don’t have really much more to offer other than it is primarily about building relationships. Those more proficient, experienced, and successful than me in the relationship-building arena will have oodles to share, I am sure. In fact, a lot has been written about soft skills already, as evidenced by the 2010 Soft Skills Virtual Conference recommended by Sam Shah.
On his advice, I read (and in several cases, re-read) most of the contributions to the conference. Fabulous, all. What I want to share here are two related excerpts that stood out rather significantly for me. As in, holy shit!
From Shawn Cornally, whose writing I could read all day long:
He would sit with me for 15 minutes stints, explaining things that I should have learned in high school, because he realized something that every teacher should: teach them where they’re at, not where you wish they were. You can only do that if you manage to somehow care more about the kids than your list of standards.
(Emphasis is mine.)
From Riley Lark, organizer and curator of the SSVC:
These roles [facilitator, resource manager, task manager, recorder/reporter] make me more comfortable with my guilty admission: I don’t care very much if the kids learn math. I mean, I’ll teach them some math, and when they leave they’re going to see more of its beauty and be equipped to use it in society. But which is more important, vector addition or working in a team? Factoring or formulating questions? Integrating or leading peers? Obviously, obviously, the math comes second. It’s just lucky that learning math provides so many opportunities for learning the more important things.
(FYI, the emphasis on that second ‘obviously’ is not mine.)
Talking Points! For each, decide if you agree, disagree, or are sitting on the fence, and include WHY. It’s OK to change your mind after listening to another’s points of view, or to restate your mind and strengthen your argument.
- Obviously, obviously, the content comes second.
- Standards are required, I must be sure to get through them all.
- Virtual Conferences are a fabulous idea.
- The MTBoS would benefit from more input from elementary teachers.
- To meet each student ‘where they are at’, we need leveled and remedial classes.
- (Insert a related Talking Point of your choice here.)
UPDATE: Serendipity: Liz Mastalio’s Week 2 post “Honestly, the Math is Secondary”.