Resources

Free Visual ARTS Lesson

To thank all of the teachers who are working so hard to finish off the year, I’m offering you a FREE Visual Arts Lesson based on Wassily Kandinsky’s “Color Squares”.   This lesson includes two student worksheets (ready to print) and the rubrics I use to assess the artistic process.  If you are interested in reading all of my teacher notes that go with the lesson, or you would like to check out the reading comprehension activity (with more student worksheets and rubrics) that I have, click here.

In this lesson, students will be given a handout where they will be asked to fill in an image like the one to the right (except larger).  They will be asked to individuallycircle create a 1/4 circle that represents themselves using as many artistic principles as they can (I use this as a diagnostic assessment at the start of the year to see what visual arts element knowledge they are bringing to the room).

After every student has completed their 1/4 circle (and the accompanying questions on the worksheets), the circles can be joined together to make a cool visual display for the classroom – see the image below.  I usually use this lesson at the start of the year to create a visual display that demonstrates to the students that although we are all individuals, we need to all come together to create something beautiful in our “team”.  I also explain to the students that this activity also demonstrates how the real world works.  We are each individuals, bringing uniqueness to the environment, but just like this artwork, we need to figure out how to get along with each other as a group as well.

As the fights and arguments show up over the year, (as they always do in middle school), I remind them of the visual hanging in our room and it helps re-establish the relationships (most of the time) LOL.

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If you would like a free copy of this visual arts lesson, please click here!  And yes, it’s absolutely free!  In fact, I love sharing my stuff for free.  Do you happen to need some free lesson plan templates?  If so, click here.

If you are interested in more teaching articles, please checkout the one I have regarding Critical Thinking or see how I stumbled upon a critical thinking unit by accident here.

I am also sharing my story of my personal journey of my breakdown burnout, my shattered mask, and my slow recovery from depression.

Thanks for being here.
Be sure to follow my blog for more resources as I add them.

Unmasking

Act II: Ok, So Maybe I’m Not So Fine…

Welcome back!  I hope you enjoyed the intermission.  I am now ready to present Act II (and yes I get the irony of the reference and the crumbling mask analogy).  If you haven’t read Act I (or it’s been awhile and you’d like a refresher), please click here to be taken back to revisit the introduction to my journey.

So, Act I concluded with my mask of perfection, strength, willpower, health, etc. crumbling at my feet, I am sobbing, I am in the process of a breakdown, and I am currently asking myself, “What do I do now?”

My colleague who has seen through the crack in my mask, asked me another question.  child-2737062_1920This was an odd one.  A question that had yet to be posed to me.  She asked “Have you spoken to your doctor about this?”  I instantly said “no” and then laughed in my head (I try not to laugh in people’s faces, it’s quite impolite).  I thought it was a funny question because I didn’t have a MEDICAL problem.  I don’t have a broken leg, the flu, a wound that needs stitches, so why would I ever go to my doctor if I don’t have a physical problem?

But, my colleague asked, suggested, asked, and suggested (very persistently) until I finally agreed to go see my doctor.  Although she did it with sensitivity and kindness, I think subconsciously, I knew she would keep pushing until I said yes, and I knew by her insistence that she wasn’t going to take no for an answer.  So, after I agreed to see my doctor, we started to part ways, and then she did something almost as bad as asking me if I was okay…she HUGGED me!  Can you believe it?  I felt my whole body tense.  I curled in on myself and I tried to somewhat hug her back so she didn’t think I was repulsed by her, however I was struggling with reciprocating the action.  Although she isn’t expected to know this about me, I am NOT a hugger.  I have a personal bubble, and there are only 3 other people on this earth that I am comfortable to have cross my bubble border.  I avoid physical touching as much as possible (and yes, I come to find out later, that as well, is a sign that something may be wrong – a blog post in the future!)  My colleague concluded the conversation with telling me she will come by in a few days to “check on me”.  Again, I had no idea why she needed to check on me, and I had my suspicions that she was coming by to check to see if I’ve followed through on the deal to contact my doctor.  Darn….I guess I have to hold up my end of the bargain and make that phone call.

After explaining my situation to the secretary at my doctor’s office I was able to get in to see my doctor in a decent amount of time.  I remember clearly going into my doctor’s office feeling like I was wasting everyone’s time.  Imedical-563427_1920 wasn’t sure why I was really there?  In the waiting room, I was trying to figure out what to tell the doctor.  When she asks why am I here, what do I say – “because my coworker forced me to?”  That seemed a bit silly.  But, I did make myself a promise.  I promised to be honest.  No matter what my doctor asks, and no matter how painful the answer is, I am going to be honest.

It’s time to go in.  Blood pressure fine, weight good….see, I told you there was no medical reason for me to be there.

The doctor came in, sat down, looked at me and said “so what brings you in today?”  I knew the question was coming, I knew what conversations led to me sitting in that chair, but at that moment I had no words to explain my true feelings.  I told the doctor about the visit from my colleagues and me losing control over my emotions.  I explained that I had a really crappy day that day and that “I’ll be fine”.  I actually said that to my doctor…”I’ll be fine.”  I look back now and I can’t help but thank whatever/whoever is looking over me that my doctor didn’t accept my “fine” answer.  My doctor was amazing, she saw right through my defenses and my mask.  She listened to me, nodded her head when appropriate, asked me a few questions and then she had me answer a survey.

I breathed a sigh of relief at this point.  A few simple questions, easy peasy.  I’ll be out of here in no time!  I’m a teacher….I LOVE answering surveys!  I was hoping the questions were going to be about my TV watching habits….or maybe shopping preferences, ha ha if only!

So here is how it started:

Question #1:  How would you rate your overall mood right now on a scale from 1 – 10 with 1 being not good and 10 being excellent.  feedback-3239454_1920I put a 2.  I never put the extreme…..why?  I don’t actually know.  I just knew my mood was awful but I couldn’t put a 1, that option was for “really” sick people, I wasn’t one of those (was I?).  Fantastic! Question 1 out of the way.

Onto Question #2:  How long has your mood been at this level?

a) Just today
b) For a few days now
c) A few weeks
d) A few months
e) As long as I can remember

Uh-oh, this is where my anxiety and panic started to kick in.  If I put anything but d or e, I’d be lying and I remembered the promise I made to myself in the waiting room.  If I was trying to fool myself a bit, I’d probably put d…however if I was going to be completely honest, my true answer would be e.  So, after a bit of hesitation, e it was.  One of the most difficult questions to answer up to this point.  The mask is completely off now!

After I was completely honest with the rest of my answers, I broke.  I broke down completely.  I couldn’t stop crying.  I was gasping for air I was sobbing so much – again…this sobbing thing is becoming a habit.  My doctor was very kind when she diagnosed me as having “Major Depressive Disorder.”  The hammer hit me so hard, I couldn’t speak.  I had been diagnosed with anxiety a few years back, but I had learned to control it…or so I thought.  Although I hear the words when the diagnosis was given, I had no clue what it actually meant. My doctor went on to explain that she was very concerned about me.  The fact that other people in my life were also concerned relayed to her that the problem was serious.  So serious that I was put off of work, given a low-dose prescription medication, and instructed to seek help through my Assistance Program at work that would set me up with a counselor.

To be honest for days after my diagnosis, I was in shock.  It took me a long time to get over the shock.  I actually think I went through a few stages of shock/grief while tryinig to dealing with my new reality.  Here are the emotions I experienced over the next few days:

  1. Denial – there was no way I had major depression.  Before I was diagnosed, I didn’t sleep in bed all day.  I got dressed every day for work.  I worked every day – I didn’t call in sick unless I was really sick.  These co-workers were seeing me on a bad day, that is all.  I don’t have a mental illness.  I was happy – what really is happiness anyways?
  2. Anger – If I did have depression, it was my job that drove me over the edge.  It was trying to deal with the students, the parents, the stress of the job, THAT is what broke me.  If only I worked in a different profession, THEN I would be happy!
  3. Bargaining – So, I have depression.  At least now I know.  Let me pop the pills, go to my counselling sessions and voila, I’m back to work.  Out of commission for a week, maybe two tops.  I’ll do my part so I can get back to doing my job – because we all know, that my students can’t cope without me…and exams and report cards are coming up.  I have to be back in time for those.
  4. Depression – well that just speaks for itself.  I was diagnosed with Major Depression and that made me well, more depressed.  When I did have my moments of clarity while moving onto the next stage (which is acceptance), I realized that I have to deal with this diagnosis. But, to be honest, I had no idea what to do….I couldn’t find the words to describe how I felt and I had to idea where to turn for advice.
  5. Finally, I moved into acceptance.  I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but I finally admitted that I was sick.  I have been sick for a long time now.  I was in denial and I was trying to run and hide from the truth, but I have depression and I am ready to deal with it.  Now I just have to figure out what to do about it.

In the weeks to come, I would explore every facet of my life now, my childhood, my family of origin, my strengths, my weaknesses and I would learn so much!  I would take 5 steps forward and 4 steps back.  It is has been a long ride so far.  I feel like I’ve been on this journey for a few years rather than months, and I plan on sharing as much of it as I can with you.

We all know that no two human beings are alike, and just like the uniqueness of all of us, each person will react and experience different successes and stumbling blocks along the way.  I am going to share my story with you but please don’t expect it to be your story at the end.  In fact, as part of my growth, I have learned that we need to take ownership of our own stories and know they will not, nor should they be, the same story as any other person on this earth.  I will also share with you the many resources I have used along the way to help me.  Again, if they help you fantastic, and if not, just being here, reading, and knowing you aren’t alone is a step in the right direction!  Keep stepping!

An Aside:

Most of you know by now that I’m a teacher and I did start this blog to provide you with resources.  Please click here if you would like to be taken to an article on how I stumbled upon critical thinking in my classroom and how it led to a full unit on Springtails.  Or if you are in need of a free lesson plan template click here.

Follow my site to receive updates for when I post new material and resources!
Thank you for coming along on my journey!

Resources

A Freebie Resource for YOU!

To thank you for being with me on my journey, I am throwing some free resources on my blog.  Although it may have limited use if you aren’t a teacher, you can use or modify this template for a variety of things.  Organizing your office, scheduling meetings, planning meals, etc.  It’s totally customizable!

Just click on the image to be taken to where you can download it for free.  Enjoy!st. 2012

Unmasking

Act I: “Yes, Thank You, I’m Fine”

I started this blog last year around this time with the intention of creating a professional site that is filled to the brim with resources, ideas and thoughts about teaching.  But then, something happened that changed my life completely.

It came out of the blue…two of my colleagues came to my classroom at the end of the day stressand did the unspeakable…they sat me down, and asked me if I was “okay”.   The nerve of them, asking me if I was okay?  Of course I was okay!  I’m always okay.  I’m in my professional workplace, I’m in the place that day in and day out I have to carry the educational stresses on my shoulders.  I have to be okay.  I wish everyone would stop asking me this nagging question!

I have to teach my lessons, counsel teenagers,  I have to deal with my administration who’s job is to “run” the school (which at times causes them to forget that the people on the front lines are real human beings, not robots with nerves of steel).  I have to deal with parents, who, although in their minds think they are servicing their children well, swearing-294391_1280decide they are going to yell their anger at me about how their child getting a level 2 on an assignment is my fault because I haven’t helped their child enough, I assign too little or too much homework, I give too much or too little notice for my unit tests, and I didn’t give their little angel enough in-class time to get that assignment done.  How dare I put those homework demands upon Little Johnny or Suzie who is travelling 5 nights a week to play hockey or spending 3 hours each weeknight in dance classes.  They have a life you know?  These kids “just don’t have time for homework”.  The parents are very clear with their implicit messages as well – every issue that they are having, the stress they are dealing with at home is my fault, I am not a “good enough” teacher.  I need to be the one to change what I am doing.  “Of course I’m okay!”

So back to my colleagues sitting in front of me waiting for an answer.  Obviously, I answered their question “Are you okay?” with a snarky (although I didn’t mean to be snarky), “Yes, thank you, I’m fine.”  Over the years, I’ve been asked the same question MANY times, and I’ve given the same answer to every “are you okay?” question each time it was posed, with success!  After giving my answer of “Yes, thank you, I’m fine”, the inquisitor(s) would usually go on their merry way, and we would all go back to status quo – the hamster wheel of teaching.

In the past, when I have provided my practiced response, the enquirer is satisfied because they have shown concern for a colleague,  they took the initiative to seek me out and actually ask the question, and they would wait patiently for a response.  When the response received was exactly what they expected, they could then go on their way feeling great because they’ve helped out an acquaintance.  The accused (me) feels relieved after giving the expected response because personally, I hate answering that question.  In my head I think that I’m “okay”, but without having the metaphorical tools to understand why, I always felt in my heart like I was lying when I said “I’m fine”.  But I wasn’t lying, the script says when you are asked if you are okay, the automatic response was “Yes, thank you I’m fine” (don’t ask me where the script came from, I honestly can’t pinpoint who or when I was given the script, however, it has been my script for as long as I candrama-312318_1280.png remember – I’m thinking it has something to do with my co-dependence).  It’s the only script, it’s the only way.  Although I can state it now (I couldn’t at the time), deep down inside, I was SO afraid of admitting the script was different, that I actually WAS lying when I said “Yes, thank you, I’m fine”.  The idea that there was another response that was so far away from the scripted one, was so devastating, debilitating, panic inducing, horrific (and the synonyms go on) that my conscience wouldn’t even ALLOW me to THINK there was an alternative.  So to my two colleagues who chose today to ask me if I was okay, I delivered the script.  To perfection….or so I thought.

BUT, as it turns out, I wasn’t perfect (another impossible thing to accept by the way).  No, today my colleagues looked at me and asked “Are you sure you’re okay?”  The first thing I felt was my heart skip a beat.  Then it started to beat a bit faster, then a lot faster.  I started to breathe faster to compensate for the quickened blood flow with this involuntary (meaning you can’t control it) physical reaction.  I started the familiar physical panic/anxiety attack symptoms that I’ve come to know very well.  But, no worries, I have my mask on.  Oh, I forgot to tell you, that along with the “Yes, thank you, I’m fine” script, you also have to make sure your mask is perfectly in place.  And those of you who wear the same mask as I did, you know what secret I’m about to share….

Many of us are in the “mental mask club”, not an official club, but it is a club I belonged to for many years!  And I’m proud to say, giving up my membership to that club was the best thing (yet scariest thing!) I have ever done. I know that you can answer the annoying “okay” question, but the only way to keep these people from “bugging” you over and over, is to not only say the words of the script, but you have to tack on the ever winning, beaming, happy, and totally fake SMILE. smile So, I said my line from the script, gave my most believable smile (it must be really believable because it has served to keep away any follow up or deeper emotional questions for MANY, MANY, years), but something happened at that moment.  My biggest fear, the most awful thing I could ever imagine, my mask had a crack in it.  I didn’t see the crack that morning when I got ready for work, or at lunch when I checked to make sure I didn’t have broccoli in my teeth before teaching.  I couldn’t even feel the crack.  However, that fateful day, somehow, my colleague saw the crack.  The crack in my mask that I had worked on to perfect for a very long time.  Once I realized my mask was cracked and there was a chance my mask would show what was happening below it, my panic attack hit.  And boy did it hit hard.  So, what happened when my mask cracked that day in front of my colleagues?  The tears fell out of their holders.   Once those pent up, held back, emotionally exhausted tears started to fall, there was no stopping them.  I tried.  I tried all my tricks, self-talk “Stop crying right now, you’re at work”, “You idiot, people don’t cry”, “DON’T let them see you cry”.  However today, none of these tricks worked….my mask started to crumble.

tom-pumford-254867-unsplashThat’s another big no-no for me.  No crying at work! No showing any weakness.  If the script and the mask start to weaken, RETREAT!  Get out!  Stay home sick.  Do whatever you need to do to make sure no one, I mean NO ONE sees that you are anything less than perfect.  As I began to face my demons and understand how mental illness really works, I learned that my run-away attitude is actually a basic instinct in all humans, the FLIGHT system (part of the freeze-fight-flight mechanics in our subconscious brains).  This system has been alive and well for awhile now in me, however, at the time, I couldn’t really identify what was happening.  I just knew I felt like I was being trapped in a corner with an overwhelming urge to just leave.  I wanted to quit my job and just walk out.  My thinking was always “I just can’t do this anymore.  I’m out”.

Now to be fair, I had just had a really crappy day, my students had no desire to learn, they just wanted to talk.  They wanted to talk with me about their lives, their alcohol and drug issues, their home lives, etc., but they definitely didn’t want to talk about school – no matter how hard I tried to redirect their questions and comments.  At the end of the day as I reflected on my lessons, I had the same thought as I have had for the many, MANY days before that…”we didn’t cover much of the curriculum again today, I am not doing a good job at this teaching thing anymore.”

I always tack on the “anymore” thing.  You see, I’ve been teaching for a very long time.  I am considered a veteran teacher in my workplace.  I WAS a good teacher, but for a long time, I felt that confidence slipping away.  Years ago if you were to ask me about teaching, I would have a multitude of reasons why I would label myself as a good teacher in the past but alas no longer fitting that definition.  Society, technology, helicopter parenting styles, always changing curriculum, angry students, angry parents, the thankless job itself….my list of reasons why I was no longer an effective teacher consistently grew.  I found myself thinking almost daily, “I can’t keep up with the changing dynamics of this education thing, I’m exhausted, I’m failing, I’m NOT GOOD ENOUGH anymore.”

So, as I am slowly coming to grips with the fact that my mask is in shambles at my feet, my colleagues have seen under the mask, I can hardly speak because at this point I’m masksobbing….remember my no crying rule at work?  Well, I broke that rule – huge!  I am gasping for breath, and I realize my shirt is soaked with my tears, I can’t stop it, it’s a boulder rolling down a hill.  I’m done.  I realize that my gig is up, everyone knows I’m not perfect, I’m weak.  I’ve been faking this “good teacher” thing.  My students aren’t learning anything.  I’m a terrible, terrible person.  “I’M JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH”.  As these thoughts are rumbling through my head, my next thought is even scarier – “what do I do now?”

I think this may be a good time for an intermission.  This is part 1 of my breakdown/burnout/mask removal.  Once I dry my tears up (this was a very emotional entry for me), grab myself another cup of coffee.  Take a few deep breaths, use my POSITIVE self-talk, meditate, do my yoga routine, and maybe a few steps on the treadmill, I’ll continue with my story of what I did next when I realized there was no more pretending.  Foreshadowing:  the shocking revelation of my diagnosis….what wearing the mask really meant for me.

Remember when I told you earlier that my intention for this blog was to provide teaching resources?  Well, my goal has changed slightly.  I am hoping to provide my personal journey and personal resources that helped me ditch the “mental mask club”.  I want to provide “TEACHER” resources.  Although I’ll throw in my lessons and handouts to help you balance your work/life schedule, use them to purposely free up time to work on strategies so you can become part of my “no more mental mask club”!  I will share EVERYTHING personal that has helped me change my life completely, and if you ever want to drop me a line, please do.  I’ve realized the importance of a positive, sharing community to know that no matter what you are going through, no matter how hopeless you feel, someone out there will understand and be there for you.  I look forward to meeting all of you!

Please note:  I am NOT a medical professional or therapist.  I am sharing my personal journey which did have these supports in place, but I encourage all of you to consult your own professionals to help you.  The personal, human connection is important in this journey.

Critical thinking, Teaching Pedagogy

Critical Thinking. What is it? Part 1

It’s funny how things work.excited

I was super excited to make my first post last week. 🙂
I was hoping there would be at least one person who might be interested in a way to promote critical thinking in the classroom. I was ecstatic with the positive results from my post. However, the focus wasn’t where I expected, most of the dialogue that happened was from people wondering what “critical thinking” actually is.

I received a lot of emails with the same theme….“I am pressured to promote critical thinking in my classroom. I think I know what it is, but I’ve never been given any professional development in this area so I feel like I’m teaching it through my personal lens and I have no idea if it is right???” A lot of comments were along similar lines.

So, I promised those readers, my next post would be about critical thinking. Now, to be honest, I’m not an expert at this topic, however, I’ve been teaching a long time and I’ve done a lot of research and I’m hoping to share this knowledge with you.

To start, Barry K. Beyer (a social educationalist) defines critical book
thinking as “the process of determining the authenticity, accuracy, and worth of information or knowledge claims. It consists of a number of discrete skills” (Beyer, 1985).  Beyer is a leading author of many books on this topic both university based textbooks for students and easier to read books for the rest of us.  If you click on the image to the right, you can check out all of the books on Amazon that he has authored and co-authored.

I’ve been in the business for awhile now and even to me, that definition doesn’t really help me implement the concept of critical thinking into my classroom (no offense Mr. Beyer).  However, the key is in what he refers to as “discrete skills”.  It is these discrete skills; analysis, evaluation, and inference that we as Teachers need to aim to include in our unit and lesson plans.  Please note:  there are many theories of many different “skills” that fall under the critical thinking category, however most theorists can agree that most cognitive thinking skills can be categorized into the three groups above (Duron R, Limbach B, Waugh W, 2006).

As you can see, I’ve researched the theories that I’ve included in this blog to show credibility to my information, however the rest of this post will be written in language directly geared toward Teachers in the classroom.  It is still based on my readings and research, I will just be putting into easier language and giving real-life examples from my own classroom.

So, the skills we are trying to incorporate into our lessons are:  analysis, evaluation and inference.

Analytical skilllove-699480_1920   Currently my students are working on a large presentation revolving around the Religious meaning of Easter (I teach in a Catholic School).   To heighten engagement and product quality I have allowed the students to choose the specific topic they want to inform the audience about and I have allowed them to choose the method they will present.

To get them started on the right track, I had the students do a mind map on the board of all the different ways we learn best.  Students came up with the typical methods:  hands on, visual, oral, etc.  However there were a couple that surprised me.  I was surprised at how many students say if they want to learn something well, they use YouTube….I think I’m showing a bit of my age by not expecting the popularity of YouTube.  I was also intrigued by a few students who said if they are physically active (sports or gym class), they learn better.  Although I was aware of the published data that proves this is a true fact, I was surprised that the students were already aware of this fact.

After we had all the different learning styles on the board, I had them switch the lens that they looked through and I asked them to make a list of what things, off that mind map, that they were good at.  I asked them to think about their strengths and talents and I asked them to pick three things off the board that they could incorporate into a presentation.

notepad-117597_1280Some students are choosing to write an essay to share their knowledge (they are strong writers and love to write so this makes sense), I have a group of students doing videos (they already have their own YouTube channels, with followers, so this makes sense).  And then I have a group of students who signed up to do a video and then came to me right away and said “how do I make a video”?   I was a bit perplexed that a student would make a decision to choose a medium for a presentation that they know nothing about.

Although I am proud of them for stepping outside their comfort zone, we did have a chat exploring the idea of whether this is a good decision for this assignment considering they will be presenting for an achievement level and this task does have a deadline that might not facilitate enough time for the steep learning curve of shooting and editing a video.  I will never tell a student they cannot choose to do something creative and fun (especially if I gave them a choice), but this experience did make me contemplate my role in facilitating students trying something new, yet realistic enough to help them understand when is it the time to choose something they know they are already good at.

I will always be letting the students decide how they deliver the information, however with guidance, I am hoping they understand that when they make a decision, the decision has to be sensible given the information that is available (in this case what presentation skills they are proficient in and the amount of time needed to learn an in-depth skill of creating a video presentation).  I did make the suggestion that if they are interested in learning video production to start it as a side project/hobby and maybe for assignments in the future, their skills will be honed to produce a wonderful product.

Allowing the students to make an informed choice is an example of promoting analysis in the classroom.  Giving the students the opportunity to make a decision that is realistic given the information at hand is one way to force them to analyse the information they have and what decision suits them best.  For students who struggle with this skill, a bit of guidance to show them HOW to make an informed decision in each case that arises are ways we can improve this skill for the students.  It all starts with forcing the students to choose and make a decision.  That in itself is hard for some autocratic teachers to do (it took me years to be comfortable handing over the decision making and problem solving reins to the students), but it is worth it in the long run!

The project is currently on-going and I have asked the strong videographers in the class to run a mini-workshop for those students who are interested in learning how to make a film-reel-147631_1280video (which in itself was an excellent experience – to watch the students pass on their skills and knowledge to other students in need – a heartwarming experience for sure)!  I even had one student tell me that he’s going to try to do a video but if it doesn’t work out, he’ll spend the weekend doing an alternate presentation.  I asked him if he understands he’s setting himself up for the potential of having to do double the work, and his response is ” yes, I know that Miss, but the way I look at it, is if I have to do two presentations, I will really know my content by the time I have to present it.”  Yes, this is a grade 8 student, and no he wasn’t kidding with this comment, yes, I am confident that with his dedication to his studies he means this with all his heart, and yes, my heart was warmed yet again, and it’s these moments that remind me why I became a Teacher!  Some days I love my job!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article where I continue with the critical thinking skill of evaluation.

Please note:  When passing over the reins of decision making and problem solving skills to the students, not all decisions should be given over to Teenagers.  I still have my rules and routines in the classroom (like no cellphones) but if I handed over those decisions, my positive, professional learning environment would be compromised.  Our challenge as a Teacher is to find the times where students can have control over their own personal educational journey without compromising the safety or integrity of the classroom.  That is where the challenge lies for most of us!

References

Beyer, Barry K.  Critical Thinking: What Is It? Social Education, v49 n4 p270-76 Apr 1985

Duron R, Limbach B, Waugh W, 2006. Critical thinking framework for any discipline. IJTLHE.  17(2):160-166