Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Making Civics Real Workshop 3: Public Policy & the Federal Budget  
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Workshop 3

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Student Perspectives: Leslie Martin's teaching style

Alex: I’ve never had a teacher like Ms. Martin before. She’s more vocal than most teachers. She’s not afraid to say what she feels. Some teachers are really quiet but Ms. Martin is a good speaker. Her voice carries well. Many of my other teachers don’t have that characteristic.

Andrew: Ms. Martin is very nice. She teaches very fast, which is not that bad because I pick up very fast. She is more in-depth. If I had taken a regular course, we probably wouldn’t have done this because this is really focused. At the beginning of the year when we had our economic session, we used our textbook and a different book. We hated it at the time, but everybody loves that we read it. It helped broaden our views the economic world and learn a lot of theories in the process. We have a book that we keep at home. She will tell us to read or do a worksheet. We bring it in the next day and we talk about it. Most of the time our class is just open discussion. She has you doing a lot of different ways of learning but what she uses right now is groups.

Caitlin: She is well informed. I can’t stand it when teachers are teaching you something and yet they don’t understand it themselves. She is energetic. If you are like a performer on stage [and] you are performing with energy, then your audience is going to feel the energy and return it back. She listens. She doesn’t necessarily criticize. She will ask you to maybe reconsider that answer, but a lot of opinions she respects.

George: She is actually very quick-paced, so a lot of times we will have to keep up with what she is doing and she stimulates learning. I think the nature of her teaching style [is that] she is not necessarily just giving us information like most of our other classes. She bounces around and she is very likeable. Many of the assignments that we get aren’t busy work. She gives us actual things like a paper or a group project, or something where we are doing our own independent research. We are not just saying here is the book and here is what you have to learn. It’s going above and beyond what is required.

She guides the classes. She will come around every now and then. Sometimes she will be checking to see that we are on the right track, that what we are discussing is pertinent. Sometimes, if we have questions, if we need clarification on something, she will comment. Sometimes we won’t know things and we will sort of get off track, and she is basically there to sort of align us. When we were originally doing the economics unit, we did a whole lot of group discussion. We would be discussing economic principles and she would sort of clarify the economics principles to us. If we were having any trouble with it, she would help us through it. She will ask you a question and just stop short of giving you the answer. We always have to figure it out.

Michael: I believe that one very important thing that Ms. Martin does is she gives a new idea a new twist. When she drops by our groups, the chief [thing she does] is make sure that we’re staying on task. But she’s also listening to what we’re saying, thinking about it, giving responses to it and new ideas that we can then discuss--sometimes ideas that we disagree with and we can discuss why we disagree. Sometimes when we’re discussing a topic, we’re very shallow on it. When she asks us questions, we go a little bit more in depth and then she comes back with another question which lets us go more in depth so that we get down to the heart of the issue.

I feel that the way she teaches really helps you prepare for the corporate world where you will be working in small groups to tackle a problem without huge amounts of direction from someone. You really have to figure it out and research. We do a lot of research papers, or she might talk about something and then you do a little bit of research on it and the next day we talk about it more. It helps you, at least for the ones that lead the discussions, to be a leader for others--not blankly following along, accepting the facts, spitting them back out, but really getting initiative to do what you should be doing, instead of just waiting to be told. That’s a big important part of being a productive citizen.

Sarah: Ms. Martin is always incredibly energetic. She’s always prepared for class and she always seems like she’s really happy to be there and really wants us to learn and understand. She doesn’t want to just read something out of a book to us. She wants to make sure that we understand. I think we help to teach her things, too, which is important. You know how she asks questions a bunch in class. What happens is that she might have an answer, but then someone else will say something different that is also relevant to the question but she had never thought of before. So we [get] two different angles but they’re both great answers to the questions. That helps us a lot. Ms. Martin sits down in the classroom a lot--in the chairs, with the students--and it’s like she’s one of us, only she talks more because she’s leading the class. We respect Ms. Martin a lot and I think she respects us a lot, too. It’s all kind of an equal balance in class.

She helped us discuss different things that we weren’t very sure on. We asked her questions about the issues that we were discussing and what she thought. She also helps to move the discussion along and get us back on target sometimes and she helped us to get going with our budget and continue where we’re supposed to be going. She helps think about the issues more. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the questions that she asks are ones that we hadn’t thought to ask ourselves and they help a lot with narrowing down what we think and finding what the real issue is, whereas we were kind of going around the issue. She never comes in and just says the answer. She always asks questions--especially in our seminar class.

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