The Learning of Teaching

Here is one of the most important things I’ve learned about teaching: it teaches you to learn. So, so simple but so, so true. I recently showed my students my notes for class one day. They were shocked. Pages and pages of notes. Most of my students just though that teachers were naturally smart or went to school so long that they just learned what they knew one day and simply regurgitated that information to their students. (Well, some do it that way.)

At any rate, this is important information for students, not just teachers. I typically learn more teaching than I did as a student. There is, however, a reason for this. When I was learning less as a student I wasn’t working as hard. I wasn’t doing the work required to learn as much as I could. So, from the side of the teacher, I learned something about being a student.

One of the most important things I’ve learned about being a student is taking notes on what you’ve read. When you are reading, and you’re falling asleep or you think about something else and find yourself already on the next page having no idea what you’ve just read you really need to refocus your attention. You go back, re-read, and then stop and take notes over what you’ve read. Reflect about what you’ve just gone over. Perhaps even write in the margins (assuming you own the book).

An amazing thing happens. When you re-look at the book you will have concise notes about what you’ve read right next to the larger context. If you’re trying to remember an idea or quote you can more quickly and readily find it. You are also able to go over what you’ve read more quickly because you don’t have to re-read all of the words, only the sections where you’ve forgotten what your side-notes referred to. So, from the teacher: take good notes.

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