GUEST POST: A Teacher Talks About What Teachers Want
An interview with Amy Ramponi
Amy (@AmyRamponi) teaches AP Psychology at Kimberly High School, Kimberly WI
Q: What is your favorite aspect of teaching?
A: My favorite aspect of teaching is making connections to "real life". As cliche as that sounds - I love when students say, "Mrs. Ramponi - this class is ruining my life! I was watching Grey's last night and it was totally about [insert something we had talked about in class]”. I also really enjoy working with students one-on-one. Lecture or class or group activities are great and all - but I enjoy when a student comes in for more individual help. I get to know them, have a good conversation, and clarify aspects that they're confused about.
Q: In an ideal world, how would your students study and engage with the material in your class throughout the semester?
A: My students would have a small amount of out-of-class reading each night and they would bring in their own reading notes, questions, outlines, and discussion ideas to class, ready to discuss with me and with their peers. I'd prefer to supplement their reading rather than lecture and feed it to them. Class would be a time to discuss and expand upon what has already been read the night before.
Q: Where do you get your information on learning?
A: I read. A lot. I check Twitter. A lot. I talk to fellow professors and teachers about the topic. My mind is always open to new strategies and ideas. Well, I don't do enough of academic journal reading. Ok, I do none. Sadly, I don't subscribe to many and don't pay for any. I often read the APA Monitor's "In Brief" section rather than read journals. I enjoy magazines like the Monitor, Mental Floss, and Scientific American Mind and find that they offer me more bang for my buck in terms of new research.
Q: What are the most useful resources for you as a teacher, when thinking about how your students learn?
A: I find online quiz generators like Quizziz, Socrative, and once-in-a-while Kahoot to be helpful. I like having little checks of their understanding. I also try to teach them how to make their own mind maps, to sort ideas and terms, to make flash cards that are ACTUALLY helpful to them, and encourage them to use all these resources (rather than just reread and highlight).
Q: What are the types of things you and your fellow teachers would want to know, that you would find useful in the classroom?
A: We want to know how to make meaning in our subjects so that students can transfer learning from the classroom to the real world. We want to know how to make kids want to learn information about a subject, rather than accumulate points to earn an A. We want to know how we can teach kids that spaced study, practice tests, and other metacognitive strategies work, and that mindlessly copying terms or notes from a Powerpoint DO NOT. Basically, how can we show kids that what learning scientists are peddling isn't a quick fix, but a life long skill that will allow them to be successful beyond their high school classroom and into college, grad school and the "real world".
Q: What is a good way to challenge common misconceptions in education?
A: I think SCIENCE and RESEARCH and more SCIENCE helps get the message about misconceptions such as learning styles and left/right brain across to the public. I think getting this message into main stream media (i.e. ABC, CNN, etc...) helps because when you get parents in the know, it helps with many of the myths of education.
Q: What would you like there to be more research on?
A: I have noticed a lot of "test anxiety" talk recently - I would like to see if that true test anxiety can be filtered out from students simply being unprepared for an exam.
So I think what you’re saying is, how much of the test anxiety that students are claiming to feel could actually be explained by lack of preparation? Fascinating idea!
Q: What are some good ways to involve teachers in a dialogue about research?
A: I think getting teachers involved in the dialogue could be as simple as just asking them to be involved. I think many high school teachers feel over-worked, under-appreciated, and like they don't matter. (Disclaimer: I do not feel this! I teach in an incredibly supportive building with great staff and parents.) I also think that there's such a time crunch for us to get through content that there's hardly ever time to teach best practices or HOW to learn, so that is hard. Perhaps it’s about providing advice that is easy to implement, in quick, to-the-point posts like this one.