What is teaching?

Alright Twitterverse. You've done it. You've given me the much needed nudge to get back to blogging.

It started this morning with this post and the threads that followed.
So I visited @MrSoclassroom's latest blog post: The purpose of teaching is ....

He commented on Cathy Fosnot's quotation, "The purpose of teaching is to help students learn ... however, without learning there is no teaching".

I think the quotations by @slwindisch and @mrsoclassroom fit together quite perfectly.
The purpose of teaching is to help students learn.
But what are we guiding them to learn about? And why that?

These are the questions that often keep me up at night. Of course we have the curriculum documents that guide our content, but there is so much more to it than that. It's about teaching students that learning how to learn is important. It's modelling that being curious and giving in to that curiosity - even though it might be hard, that you might face some struggles, and that it's going to take time and effort - is kind of the point of it all.

The what and why that are the big ideas that relate to learning in order to life fully and productively. We find these ideas throughout our curriculum documents we just have to uncover them and often backwards map student and teacher wonderings to these big ideas.

Teaching for me, is about igniting the passion inside my students.

For some students, they are ready. They have a good idea of who they are are what sparks their interest. They relish the opportunity to pursue learning about topics that inspire them. They need little more than a flicker of flint to get their flame roaring.

However, for some students, this isn't easy. They have become accustomed to the content, the what, fitting nicely inside prepackaged boxes. They need lots of kindling to get their flames going. This is what teaching is to me. Providing the experiences, the conversations, the inspiration to help students figure out what is important for them to learn about, giving them the tools they need to build their own fire, and instilling in them the confidence to light the match.

@mrsoclassroom added on this by challenging us to think about how we assess this type of learning.
For this, I look to the New Pedagogies for Deep Learning progressions. I had the fortunate privilege to attend NPDL training session this past month and am in the process of aligning these progressions with student design projects. More to come on this in the coming weeks...

Thanks for the inspiration Twitterverse! This is just what I needed on this Sunday morning!


  1. Thank you for sharing your thinking openly about this.

    Just helping other educators see what is happening in your head is quite valuable, so thank you for taking the time to do this.

    Another educator who thinks about how to assess our evolving ways of personalizing learning through interests and passions is Heather Theijsmeijer (https://byodasap.blogspot.ca/2015/04/ditching-effectiveness-miracle-of-page.html), and the Natural Curiosity manual (http://www.naturalcuriosity.ca/pdf/NaturalCuriosityManual.pdf) is full of ideas as well.

    I look forward to reading more about your practice!


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