Dan Hilliard and the Rider and the Elephant (See October 2nd entry)

When Dan Hilliard [the teacher whom readers meet at the beginning of the book] first learned about the rider and the elephant metaphor from a colleague, he began to understand why he had been having difficulty changing his deep-seated practices. He’d already given up New Year’s resolutions, since they never materialized. He started reflecting on his teaching practices and realized he did many of them without thinking. For example, collecting homework at the beginning of class; passing out quizzes, tests, and papers during class; sometimes taking excessive time on non-instructional matters; often calling on the first hands raised; and keeping his students’ desks in rows.

He wondered how he could better inform his rider, so he could consider other options to begin retraining his elephant. He decided to ask colleagues if he could observe them during his planning periods. Perhaps he would discover better ways to interact with his students. He also heard about a school in the next town renowned for its alternative approaches to teaching and learning. He decided to ask his principal if he could go visit and come back and report to the rest of the faculty. He also asked if the school could subscribe to the Marshall Memo and The Main Idea [two invaluable resources discussed in this chapter. Google them to find out about their value.]

Praise for Teaching from the Middle of the Room:

Frank Thoms is a passionate teacher, and his powerful book is all about ‘stance’ –– how a teacher places himself or herself physically, emotionally, intellectually, and organizationally — with respect to students, knowledge, and learning. Every teacher, from a first-timer to an old hand, will learn much that is practical, and even more that is inspirational, from reading this book. And so will everyone else who cares about the classroom. ~Rob Fried, The Passionate Teacher

For more on this crucial issue see Teaching from the Middle of the Room: Inviting students to Learn from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Middle-Room-Frank-Thoms/dp/0615358918.

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