Suggestions for a great class

1. Orient the class: Each class will increase your ability to think better as a professional teacher. To better learn how to use the tools of learning to assess needs and create highly plausible inferences based on those needs to facilitate learning. Ask what is important to learn? What is each learner capable of learning at different times of their lives? How can each person's educational needs best be met? What resources are available to assist learning?

2. Use metacognition: Think about your thinking. What information is used to make a decision. Is there better information that could have been used? How could better information be obtained? Did I provide myself sufficient time to really think through all the consequences? Would I have made a better decision if I had more information or more time?

3. Think of content as a form of thinking: Dimensions of content areas ( e.g. mathematics, literature, science...) have been defined because this kind of classification provides important ways to think more deeply about subjects. Thinking about the different dimensions of each subject helps to better define each subject: what each is, what each does, and provides a way of thinking about what literate people know and do in these content areas. When we better understand these kinds of details, we use a more comprehensive understanding to guide decisions from goal setting to facilitating learning. Both our learning and our students' learning of the content and the ability to use it to solve problems as opportunities arise and to create more content information.

4. Think of content as a system of connected ideas: Knowing the different dimensions of each content system helps to isolate different skills, attitudes, and information. However, in practiceinformation doesn't exist in isolation. To inquire a person must combine knowledge, skills, and attitudes from all dimensions of a subject or subjects in combinations to solve problems and understand the world. Reflecting on how the different dimensions are used together to achieve this increases both the understanding of the world and the subjects used to gain that understanding.

5. Think of yourself as a teacher: Now you are the facilitator of your learning. You plan for what you have to learn. You classify, organize, and sequence the big ideas you need to know and begin a quest to learn additional information, connnect your past to your present learnings, and apply this new understanding. Ultimately it is the same process you will use to set goals, plan learning experiences, and facilitate your students' learning. The better you are at learning and understanding your learning the better you will be able to facilitate our students.

6. Resources are the thinkings of the authors: Granted not all thinkings are as good as others, but authors usually write messages they feel are important. When you use a resource ask why it was considered important? In what situations could it be important? If you don't believe it is important, on what have you based your conclusion? What is the problem, or why isn't it necessary, or what is better to use in its place? Chances are sometime in your teaching career another teacher or administrator will suggest the same idea and you will be prepared to suggest something better. Sometimes our best ideas can be created when we know what we do not want to do, not when we have an idea of what we could do.

7. Come to class prepared to apply, analyze, expand, and evaluate what you learned: Teachers should always question what they have done, are doing, and are planning to do. Bring your assignments and ideas to class with your questions to provide you opportunities for plenty of this kind of activity.

8. Consider why the class should be intensive for you: Classes can be made easy for students and hard for teachers by having many assignments scheduled throughout the semester. This can make it too easy for students as they memorize for quizzes or copy words from a text onto paper, but not learn. The, "I got a good grade, but don't ask me about it now syndrome." If the information for the course is already understood by the instructor, then that makes it easy for him or her, but if the information isn't known by the student, then that makes it hard for the student. The student needs to think and problem solve on how to make the course content his or her information to understand well enough to remember for years to come, and to be able to know when, how, where, why, and why not to use it. That makes it intensive.

9. Relate the information to the real world: Ask how can this be used? When, where, for whom, under what circumstances shouldn't it be used? How might it be adapted to make it better?

10. Continually use the powerful ideas in the course: Learn and internalize the ideas, apply them in different ways, and evaluate the application with respect to the effect it has on students, their learning, and your beliefs related to teaching.

11. Identify the powerful ideas of the course as soon as possible: If you don't know what you have to learn, how can you learn it?

12. Focus on how deep your understanding is: What is the purpose of the idea? What would be a focus question for the idea? What information is needed to answer the question? What conclusions can be made from the information? What assumptions are associate with each idea. What do people take for granted? And are those ideas valid? Can generalizations be made from the information related to the idea? What are the implications and consequences for accepting or rejecting different actions? What perspectives can be used that have influenced an idea and what perspectives would change it?

13. Assess: Assess yourself, your fellow students, and the instructor. Don't be bashful. Use the following when needed: I'm not clear about your idea; could you explain it another way? Could you be more specific? How could we check the accuracy of the information? How is that idea relevant to the idea we are dealing with? Are there other issues that would make it more complex? Are there ways to simplify it? Are there other ways of addressing the idea? What differences are there between the different ways? Has the most significant issue with relation to the idea been included?

14. Remember to be humble, to persevere, remain open minded, make decisions within our beliefs, consider all viable ideas, and don't let others persuade us without giving us time to convince ourselves.

Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes