Saturday, July 16, 2016

Teaching Adults: My #TMC16 Learning Goal

#TMC brings out my crazy joy ninja energy. I burst with excitement and bound about the place, having intense incredible conversation after intense incredible conversation, while also going to utterly amazing sessions. And then I can't even sleep because my brain is working so hard to assimilate the new info and the stimulation level is so densely packed.

My first year (#TMC13), I spent my time writing notes furiously because everything anyone said was new (Desmos, Mathalicious, Math Forum...) to me. The last two years, I've been able to choose a focus, and have had a bit more of a filter to experience camp through.

I don't necessarily plan that focus before coming--in the past it has sort of emerged while I'm here. During yesterday's Desmos pre-conference I hit my goal for this year: teaching adults effectively. The Desmos staff are so amazing at helping everyone in the room feel empowered, excited, curious, taken care of, engaged and interested. They obviously have an incredible product to work from, but they also have a way of managing a room with many of their power users as well as some newbies to bring out the best in them all.

In my new role this year as Assistant Head of School, I've found that working with adults takes only some of the same skills as teaching teenagers. Adults want/need more autonomy and choice. How can I ensure that they have that while still working toward a goal? Adults often are very afraid to admit their own lack of understanding. How can we create a space where people are safe to work at their own pace? There are so many ways that adults are different from teens--it's partially my learning edge because I don't even know what the ways really are.

I'm also realizing that getting better at teaching adults will probably help me to get better at teaching teenagers. Kids also want autonomy and safe space to explore. I just go about creating that in somewhat different ways with them than I would with adults.

So, I'm super excited for Michelle's workshop on Differentiating PD for teachers, since her focus is on teaching adults.  I think I'm going to go to David Wees's morning session to learn about instructional routines, and to watch how he interacts with a group of adults, since it's what he does in his work. But overall, I'm realizing that all of the instruction that I see while I'm here will be teachers teaching adults, so every interaction and every workshop is an opportunity to pay attention and notice.

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