10 ways my thinking has changed…


1. I used to think it was about the teaching. Now I think it’s all about the learning.

2. I used to think my students learned best sitting facing the front of the classroom. Now I think they need to sit in groups, in order to collaborate and construct meaning together.

3. I used to think the classroom needed to be quiet and I needed to be in control. Now I think noisy lessons where the kids are engaged often reflect learning at its most vibrant.

4. I used to think silence had to be filled by repeating the question or asking a different question. Now I think silence means every student has enough time to think.

5. I used to think differentiation meant setting different tasks for different abilities. Now I think digital tools often  provide natural differentiation for different levels, abilities and interests.

6. I used to think every student had to put up his hand before he spoke and all conversation had to go through me. Now I think the best discussions are ones where the kids are responding to each other and I’m out of the picture.

7. I used to think that praising kids was necessary positive reinforcement. Now I think that feedback needs to be constructive and specific and praise on its own isn’t helpful.

8. I used to think exercise books had to be neat, with a margin drawn at the side. Now I think exercise books are for thinking, reflecting, scribbling ideas and working things out, so it doesn’t matter what they look like.

9. I used to think finished work should be hung on the wall so the class could see it. Now I think the best place for samples of learning is on the class blog or wiki where an authentic audience can read/listen and comment.

10. I used to think that assessment was to find out whether students had mastered a topic or a skill, and took the form of tests for which I gave grades. Now I think assessment should inform teaching /learning and can occur through any learning experience, including listening to what students say.

11. I used to think PD was through conferences and workshops. Now I think some of my best professional learning has been through Twitter and blogs.

12. I used to think the teacher was the teacher and the students were the learners. Now I think we’re all part of a community of learners… Oops, there are 12 😉

Please add your thinking to the list…

Series of posts on ’10 Ways …’ #4 10 ways to encourage students to take responsibility for their learning 10 ways to foster a love of learning 10 ways to create a culture of thinking

36 thoughts on “10 ways my thinking has changed…

  1. I used to think that an assessment task which was a power point presentation was a good assessment of ICT skills. Now I think ‘What was I thinking!’ What is worse is that it was only four or five years ago!

    A fabulous and once again thought provoking list Edna, I don’t know how you do it and teach too. I have to admit to being ever so slightly in awe of your amazing blog writing.


  2. One of my colleagues says she sometimes feels she’d like to go back and apologise to her past students, as her understandings about learning have developed!!
    Thank you so much! You have two great blogs, yourself…


    1. Great post and one that I can relate to a lot.

      I actually had the chance to meet up with some old students recently (I had tuaght them in 6th grade and they have now just graduated high school). I told them my attitude to learning had changed a lot over the last few years but they were all insistent that I had been a good teacher with two of them even saying they were planning to study English Language Teaching at university. A good reminder that whatever we think, it’s the students’ opinion that counts!


  3. Great post Edna! One more:
    – I used to think that students should take detailed notes in lecture.
    – Now I think that students should spend less time copying and more time thinking.


  4. I used to think that if my kids were too excited in the classroom that I would never get them “back to learning.” Now I know that powerful positive emotions promote learning and I just have to teach them how to regulate for the best climate for them. Each of us has a different level that is just right and I would rather have excited kids than “mentally asleep” kids!
    Great post!!


  5. – I used to think that students learned the same … the way I did.
    – Now I think that everyone has their own unique style….me too!

    Love your post Edna. Can I share it with teachers at my 7 schools?


  6. i’d like to see more on #5 – I have a gut-level understanding of it, but I sometimes find it hard to manifest/demonstrate for other….since differentiation is quickly becoming the buzz at my school and since it’s hard to do w/so many kids nd such big classes, i’d like to se emore stuff (not just from you) on specifically tying tech w/differentiation


    1. Tech often gives opportunities for kids with different learning styles and abilities to express their learning in a naturally differentiated way. Instead of always having to present a written piece, students can demonstrate their understandings or their findings or their opinions through tech, be it a film clip, a cartoon, a podcast, a voicethread or whatever. It allows a variety of opportunities for expression of learning. For instance I’ve seen 4th grade kids show their understanding of culture, through creating a cartoon in ToonDoo. Interesting to see the different levels of their understanding,without having to set different tasks.


  7. Great blog …. thank you.

    Maybe a bit too ‘flipp’ to say:

    ‘I used to think I thought but now I know more I realise I didnt’ … but there is some truth in that I used to think I knew how to teach but as I became more experienced I realised that teaching is about exploring, developing and sharing for both the pupil and the teacher.

    It is great to see new technology helping teachers to share and explore ideas – and I dont just mean ‘tips for teachers’ but about sharing their enthusiasm and passion for teaching and learning. A question? How do we get more teachers turned onto sharing through technology?


  8. I used to think that good writing instruction resulted in a product.

    Now I think good instruction rests more in process thinking than product creation.


  9. One of the longest, most heated and destructive staff meetings I ever attended was almost solely about what colour and how wide a margin should be. With parent meetings it was about school uniform changes. Why is it we get so impassioned about appearances and not so much about the things that really matter?


  10. What a fabulous post! It has just made me sit down for 10 minutes and examine what i have learnt over the last year, what i have changed, am i any different better or worse??

    True reflection = positive change and outcomes

    Thank you 🙂


  11. I used to think that enthusiasm, interaction, project-based work, innovation, intuition, creativity, etc, were the most important and that the teacher-controlled, drill-based classroom was a bad thing.

    Then I got into the real world and found myself working with a bunch of people who got educated in a dynamic, project-based, interactive environment that valued intuition and creativity over rote memorization and drills.

    And you know what? Those people need to do some drills and rote memorization. They have all sorts of enthusiasm, but they never mastered the basic stuff (simple arithmetic, spelling and grammar, vocabulary, mastery of facts about the world they live in) that would let them do anything useful with that enthusiasm.


  12. I used to think a powerpoint was a good way for assessment (and my colleagues still think this!) but now I think there are many other creative web 2.0 ways that students can use to show their learning. How do I convince my colleagues of this?


  13. Hey, I used to think that I should teach the way my teachers taught me. Now I aim to do the opposite I what my teachers used to do.

    I used to hate school. Now I love learning!


  14. My teaching philosophy has been changing since I started to look for a new job for September 2011. I found a new job and I’ve really made headway to becoming a better teacher….I also attribute this to PD done online…i love a good web conference….but wikis, blog and twitter also quench my thirst 🙂

    thanks for the post


  15. I have just started exploring about Learning, rather than teaching. And this is exactly your first point, i am glad yo know that I am not alone on this journey.


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