It always happens this time of year. I look at the calendar and my syllabus, shake my head in disbelief that another semester has come nearly to an end, and then panic when I realize that I haven't "covered" nearly as much as intended. But then I am reminded of Eisner when he says, “The aim of the educational process inside schools is not to finish something, but to start something. It is not to cover the curriculum, but to uncover it.” What have I uncovered this semester, and exactly what have I started?
My students are hoping to one day be future teachers. I don't doubt for a minute that they will succeed. They are extremely bright, enthusiastic, hardworking and creative. So far they have all demonstrated that they have the skills and the heart to succeed. This semester, we are specifically focused on the importance and place of science and social studies in the elementary curriculum. There is far too much information to fit neatly into a one-semester course in any depth, so I hope to uncover just enough of the pedagogies and content to spark an interest in students that will leave them wanting to know more. We have experienced that "aha-moment" together while working through the phases of the learning cycle, looked at the role of children's literature in the disciplines, experimented with web-based mapping and virtual globes, and wherever possible, looked at ways to integrate the curriculum.
Even though our weekly class sessions last 2 hours and 40 minutes, they all come to an end long before I have made my way through the entire lesson plan. (Teaching middle school students taught me long ago to over plan.) They leave and I wonder if we have made progress. Do they get it? Can I do more? What did I miss? What did they miss? Will they be ready? I can only hope that when this is over, that I have shown them where to find good ideas and verify the content of instruction, how to plan for instruction, and most of all, how to deliver instruction that meets the mandated curriculum (wherever they go) in a way that is most meaningful for students. And most of all, I hope they can do all this with enthusiasm, with love for the subject, and a desire to spark a passion in their own students for these things.
So with only three classes left, I have a lot of work left to do. Class is tomorrow, so I best get to it.