Education Corner 30

The New Year allows EC to review a little and catch any new readers with the story of Mr. Navarro Navarro. A young 22 year old Navarro begins his teaching career in a Roman Catholic School about the time of FSM Independence. He is hired as a last minute replacement for the regular 5th grade teacher who had taken severely ill. Navarro has the minimum requirements, a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college but he has no teacher education. We learned he was an excellent student himself and is very confident in the curriculum he will teach-that is he knows what to teach. However with no teacher training he has never learned the methods and strategies teachers use to teach—or how to teach. The young man has only his own experiences as a student and using those good experiences and good teachers he jumps right in and begins teaching the morning after he was hired. Readers have been asked to join Navarro in his journey to become a teacher. Readers can be assured Navarro makes mistakes but he learns from them. EC has been writing little stories about Navarro and asking readers to think like students and think critically. We use critical thinking questions which just mean the student or reader should explain the answer.


Navarro Continues
But how would the young man teach spelling, reading and writing? Navarro could barely remember how he learned to read English. It seemed one week he was not reading and the next week he was. He was a terrible speller and yet he had always received an A in spelling on his own report cards. He thought back and remembered how he easily memorized the 20 words usually just before the Friday spelling test and he rarely missed a single word. The unit tests or review tests took him a bit longer to rememorize 100 words. Even though he had received his A’s on the weekly tests, he always had to rememorize the 100 words before the review test. But he wondered why he was such a poor speller? In college, he never wrote a single paragraph without a dictionary by his side and he was forever looking up the same words over and over. The 5th grade speller held the answer. The spelling book was just like the one he had in the 5th grade. The new words for the week were on a first page and then 2-4 pages of exercises using the words and rules to follow with spelling certain types of words. He knew without even thinking—make sure the 5th graders learn the spelling rules so they would not end up like him always looking up words over and over again in a dictionary. The spelling book also had the all important grammar rules. That together with his Teacher’s Edition gave him even more confidence in the English language arts. Just because Navarro had always gotten A’s in spelling did not mean he was a good speller. All of this worried Navarro at the idea of grading papers and tests. He had received A’s in spelling yet he could not spell. Something was not right about that.
But with so little time Navarro did not have much of a chance to train himself about how to teach. He was, however, confident about a few things. He wanted to make the students curious
about learning. He had learned better when he enjoyed the lessons and actively participated in them. He had liked the hands-on lab work and science fairs. Good films especially for history would be better at times than just talking about history. History holidays could be a good idea as well. Memorization of facts or words did not necessarily mean that those facts or words would be remembered. He was still confused about how he would grade but he had a few good ideas about how he would try to teach. But in the back of his mind he also knew that not all of his students would be learning the way he had learned. Many of his own classmates hated science and hated history even though teachers tried to make classes fun and interesting. This fact bothered him so he knew he would have to learn more than just throwing a blanket over a kitten or showing a film. And his best friend Jimmy Devine got a D in history and he got to dress up as a knight at the Medieval Fair. Learning how to teach might take quite a while,” he thought. “Quite a while indeed.”
Then Navarro’s thoughts were interrupted. They were interrupted by a nicely printed note signed by the principal Sister Mary Francetta. It read:
Dear Mr. Navarro:
On Fridays I usually have the teachers leave their lesson plans for the following week. I check to see if they are complete and leave them on the desks for the following Monday morning. As you are just getting acquainted with teaching 5th grade I will not be checking your lesson plans until the second Friday of the semester.
Also the 8th graders will love you for science after only one day. It is good that they are enjoying the class but do be sure they are learning something. Be sure and test them every week. In fact be sure you are giving your tests on a regular basis in all your 5th grade subjects. We usually do testing on Fridays and that way we have the weekend to do the grading.
Finally the 5th graders are just wonderful for the religion class. Father O’Hooligan visited the class and blessed the classroom.
Yours in Christ,
Sister Mary Francetta, Principal
Today’s critical thinking question: Is it a good idea to have testing every Friday in all the subjects? Why or why not?