Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sticking out your tongue

I've been thinking lately about what I've been learning over the course of the summer. Preparing for the tech training days has helped me learn more about the programs themselves - the district website, Edmodo and iWorks. It has been interesting to watch how various people learn and process information as well as how they work. For example, most people learn best with the chunking method - giving it to them in small pieces so they can process and apply what they are understanding. But
then to watch them actually work has been eye-opening to me. I had one teacher who tends to stick their tongue out when they are concentrating. It reminded me of kids cutting with a pair of scissors and concentrating hard for fear of making a mistake. The tongue pokes out the corner of their mouth as though it will provide that needed element to obtain greater precision and accuracy. Another teacher just leaned back, crossed their arms and stared at the screen as though they were visualizing what their product should look like first and then determining how to make it happen. At first I thought the teacher was either bored or frustrated, but when I asked if they needed help they said, "No, I'm just thinking." Interesting that a simple posture can be misconstrued and perceived in a negative connotation . I realized then the importance of understanding how students learn, process and apply information and concepts.

In education we focus on various techniques for teaching content so we can reach the diverse learning styles, but we don't spend much time on the different styles of processing and applying information. As a teacher, we could have a total misconception of a student just because we don't understand what their body language actually means for them. Arms crossed over your chest has always been indicative of someone being closed off and not receptive, but with my teacher it was a sign of concentration and focus. Maybe he was closed off, but more to the distractions around him rather than the task at hand. Granted this may not be true for all individuals, but one size doesn't fit all. Another thing to consider is how individuals process information before they actually create. If someone walked into my office they would think I waste a lot of time - heck, I think that of myself sometimes. But the truth is I have a few different ways of processing and thinking out my ideas before they become an actual creation.

Currently, I am journaling which helps me get the ideas out of my head and onto paper. From there I can read over the content to see what information I could actually use in a blog post. I may only have a few lines or several ideas; regardless, the process has helped me clear my head and sift through the random thoughts to find the best pieces for a blog post. Another way I process information is by
talking it out. I grab one of the toys on my desk, usually my little stress ball and fiddle around with it in my hands while I talk out an idea. Sometimes I pick it up when someone is asking a question or explaining something to me. For some reason it helps me focus and become less distracted. It reminds me of a scene from the movie Murder Most Foul by Agatha Christie. Miss Marple is a juror listening to the judge explain the process to the jurors before sending them off to decide the verdict of the accused. She is knitting and you can hear her needles clicking together. The judge leans down and tells her either she'll have to stop knitting or he'll have to stop serving as the judge. She responds with, "It helps me concentrate." How many times have we told a student to stop doing something that really helps them to concentrate. Granted, you don't want their method of concentrating to infringe on another student's method for concentrating, but I think as teachers we need to remember to be alert and sensitive to these needs in an effort to help students process and apply the information they are learning.

1 comment:

  1. That is so true. How one person processes information and approaches a task is different from another person's approach. You have to know your students.