In the first few weeks of my AP Chemistry course, one of my goals is to get a sense of where my class is with the material. It’s been a long summer, and each student comes to the class with different levels of command over the material from their previous work. As I planned class yesterday, I felt a problem solving session seemed the best choice. I do this frequently, encouraging students to collaborate and draw from the strengths of their peers. My role in this type of class is to move around the room to assess individuals and offer help. For reasons unknown, I wrote “coaching / review session” in my plan book.
Coaching. In thirteen years of teaching, I’ve never written coaching into my plans. However, it seemed the most appropriate descriptor of what my students needed in our class, and it changed mindset as I worked with them. I found myself standing back a bit more, rather than solving problems along side of them. Instead, I moved around to small groups and we bounced around ideas and approaches. Lots of questions flowed into our room, and my students were equally as likely to ask me for guidance as the classmate sitting across the table from them. This educational strategy seemed the most appropriate, and the word change altered my approach ever so slightly, but certainly for the better of my students.
This word change made me wonder about how educators might rename other common aspects of our daily work to provide a slightly different perspective. Here are a few others that came to mind…
Lesson plans should be called learning plans. Homework becomes understanding checks. Parent-teacher conferences turn into partnership meetings. Report cards and grade reports are learning updates. Other thoughts?