Direct Instruction Revisited

I had a major Aha moment on Monday.

My first time trying to do an entire class period of direct instruction did not go well.  Based on that single experience, I decided that I was just not cut out for doing direct instruction.  Then Monday I got to step back from teaching and observe my coteacher again.  She did 50 minutes of direct instruction, reviewing the topics from the chapter in preparation for Tuesday’s test.

I realized quite suddenly, about five minutes into her talk, that I had not done anything the “right” way.  This is funny to me, because when I was actually doing it, and for the first few days afterward, I felt certain that I had followed her model well, but that I just wasn’t good at delivering it.

I am still not quite sure what I did, but it was nothing like what my coteacher does.

We have two sections of algebra, and today we worked out a plan where she would deliver instruction in the first class, and I would watch.  Then I would do it the second time around. Boy, what a difference.  This saved me for a couple of reasons.  First, I could take notes on the strategies she was using, so I knew what to focus on and what not to worry so much about.  Second, because we use the doc cam to write out the notes, I could use her hand-written notes to work from during my own delivery.  This worked fantastically.

Not that I don’t still need to improve.  I do.  Sometimes I am good at thinking on my feet.  Other times I really suck at it.  Today was one of those days.  We were talking about literal equations, and I could sense that the students were not happy and in some cases possibly even hostile to the content I was covering.  I had no idea what to do about it, though.  Zero.  And then I forgot that class ends at 12:55, not 12:50, so I found myself with about 8 minutes to spare at the end of class.  Thankfully, my brain kicked into gear right about then, and I spend the time talking with the students about what it was they felt was so different about the literal equations.  I don’t know how much it helped, but at least it gave the students a chance to voice their frustrations.  I think that’s important.

My coteacher agreed that I did a much better job today.  We have agreed that rather than have me take over completely for any long period of time, it’s better, at least for the time being, for us to really coteach.  I’ll teach and while, and then she can teach a while.  That will both give me a break, and a chance to process my experiences and then observe her teaching more in the light of this new learning.  I am really excited about next quarter… I can’t wait!

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