On the fourth day of the workshop, we began once again with two of the participants teaching a sample lesson. Helen was the lead teacher, and Mary was the assistant teacher.
What interested me about watching these two skilled teachers in action was that they had two very different teaching styles. Helen is calm and centered: she tends to keep her body still, leaning forward slightly in her chair, and she engages the participants with her voice and facial expressions. Mary, on the other hand, uses her whole body to teach: she stands up, sits down, moves, she’s a very physical teacher. Both Helen and Mary are skilled teachers: watching them teach together was both a study in contrasts, and a vivd reminder that there is no one right way to teach.
Watching Helen and Mary caused me to reflect on my own teaching style. I’m a fairly physical teacher, and I find it hard to sit still. Often I have to think hard and force myself to be physically still when the lesson requires it.
After the sample lesson, we shared out evaluations with each other. A couple of the participants mentioned that they weren’t sure where Helen had assessed the learning of the group. As it happened, Helen had included assessment in the lesson, but some of us didn’t notice that she was assessing our learning. This raised the interesting question of whether learners should know they are being assessed or not. I favor always letting participants know when they are being assessed; but I recognize that there is a case to be made for teachers sometimes doing assessment without letting learners know.
After a break, we came back and worked on the religious skill of singing. We learned a new song that we’re going to sing tonight at the conference talent show.
We wound up the session talking about appropriate assessment genres for religious education. In an earlier session, we had agreed that testing is not an appropriate assessment genre for religious education — we all felt that paper-and-pencil tests do not accurately measure the kind of learning that should go on in religious education programs. So what are the appropriate assessment genres? We came up with the following list: Continue reading