Reform your classroom: Introduction

Let me start by apologizing.  I’m sorry for the arrogance that seemingly permeates this post, I don’t claim to have “the” answers, only “some” answers.  That said, I will argue that I am a very competent teacher.  I got along well with the “problem” students; I taught my curriculum through inquiry/ I didn’t assess students using multiple choice tests; I spent significant effort helping my students understand how to learn; I worked in a “low SES” school and not once used it as an excuse; I integrated technology in meaningful ways; and I asked my students to be cultural critics.

On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t be apologizing.  I read the education reform literature and the edreform blogosphere and I worked my ass off to implement the things that are being written about.  So, I hope you won’t find me arrogant, but I certainly should not apologize for doing what I believe all teachers should do.  Reform your classroom!  It’s the one place you have control over.  If you don’t think you can reform your classroom, leave.  I’m not saying if you haven’t “arrived”, leave.  However, if you are not willing to take on the difficult task of moving your classroom in a positive direction, you  should not be teaching.

I had a lot of success in my k-12 teaching.  I still get emails, twitter messages, and facebook comments from former students who ask me to come back, who ask me why other teachers don’t teach well, and who say my class was the only class they ever actually learned in.  I share those messages in humility.  I do not want to claim to have teaching “all figured out”, but I do want to provide some notion that I actually did do some pretty cool stuff with students. Of course there were things I could have done better and I constantly worked to improve my teaching, as I still do.  The fear that drives Shawn Cornally resonates with me.  I wanted my students to be well prepared as learners, I wanted to encourage their natural curiosities not squash them.  I wanted my students to learn about science, but more importantly I wanted them to learn about their own greatness as well as their limitations.  I have decided to reflect on my teaching in a new series I’m calling “Reform your classroom”.  This series will be my attempt to wrap my head around my own teaching.  Some of my teaching was well-rooted in education research, some was trial and error, and some was simply my personality showing up in my teaching.  This series is an attempt to share what I learned trying to implement reform in my little corner of the edusphere.  I hope you will enjoy the stories.

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6 Responses to Reform your classroom: Introduction

  1. Jared Ritz says:


    It was interesting that you talk about teaching students how to learn. We had this very topic come up in my class today and was curious what you meant by this or what method you used. Are we talking about inquiry and using that as the learning tool or did you implicitly give them methods on how to learn. It is a topic that intrigues me so if you could expand on that it would be great. If you already have in other posts I apologize.

    The main question we focused on in class was whether we need to “teach” inquiry or should we let the students live inquiry.


    • jerridkruse says:

      Both! We can teach students by guiding their inquiry, but they must also be experiencing the act of inquiry. So I often had students doing inquiry, but then we had discussion (explicit discussion) about how the inquiry process helped their learning, or what learning means. I have written several posts related to this that are on this blog, but several of the posts are taken from this paper:
      Don’t worry about the “statistical crap”, the intro and conclusions will be of interest to you.

      Check out this post as well:

      What class are you taking? Are you going the education route?


      • Jared Ritz says:

        Sorry about the late reply,

        I’m majoring in elementary education and 6-8 middle school science. The class I’m in right now with regards to the comment is teaching elementary science with Dr. Brian Hand. The class is less related directly with science and focused more on epistemology and setting up true inquiry based classrooms. I have this year left and then student teach next fall.

        Often times, a lot of classes in the TEP don’t address learning theories and focus too much attention on writing lesson plans. This causes a problem of future teachers having no idea how to develop their teaching philosophy. I have always been interested in it so read a ton of literature outside of class. I’m grateful to finally have some real discussion of these issues inside a classroom. The entire class is modeled around an inquiry based classroom which is most beneficial to us pre-service teachers.

        Thanks for the links.


  2. Jerrid kruse says:

    I know of Brian hand. I’m sure at some point you’ll be learning about SWH if you haven’t already.

    I’m glad you see the importance iPod having a strong philosophy of teaching. Your teaching will reflect your philosophy, no matter what you “learn” in methods classes.

    We really should talk more about this sometime. I’d have some questions for you as I am sure you would of me. Perhaps Skype or phone? Maybe we could meet up sometime, play some tennis & get into these issues. If you’re ever in Des moines let me know!


  3. Jared Ritz says:

    Yeah we have talked extensively about SWH.

    Yeah if you ever want to talk let me know. My number is 712-540-2309. Will you be teaching any classes next summer? I’d like to make it over to Des Moines to chat and maybe sit in on one of your classes.


  4. Pingback: Reform Your Classroom: Dealing with Curricula « Teaching as a dynamic activity

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