10 years of doing it wrong

I interviewed an AP Pysch teacher at my school who shared his discovery in trying something new, which was at odds with how he was taught.

Photo of Jennifer Gaspar- Santos
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Interview with Eric Castro, AP Psych Teacher at SI College Prep---

Eric, how can we reimagine professional learning experiences?

We can achieve a culture of professional learning  by developing a sense of cultural humility. 

This is two fold. 1) a sense that we do not know everything, we don’t know all that our students need to know and we don’t know everything about teaching and learning  2) but we need to continue to be engaged with the process— this doesn’t mean we stop to try something new or explore new realms. 

Teachers need to be open to new ideas - new ways of proceeding, and be willing to risk the new 

What does cultural humility look like? through grammar school and high school and even some of my  undergrad experience, there were pop quizzes. This was part of teaching and learning, but research shows pop quizzes actually hurt a students ability to recall it in meaningful ways. This piece of research was at odds of how I was taught, so I needed to be open to that. 

And even the first 10 years of my own teaching, I gave quizzes as a teacher  — How could I have been wrong? I needed to try teaching without pop quizzes. 

What was it — what made you try it out? 

In reality, it was going to Learning and Brain conference and a session talked about how stress response cycles impeded cognitive functioning —this educational research piece about formative assessment with this cognitive biology piece, it really clicked, that enabled me to believe it.  It was an accumulation of sessions that really helped me get to that point.  

What mechanism or system would have helped you out - 

 there were only a few I could go to within the school, there wasn't any professional learning communities in-house. There wasn't  a technical means outside the building, so it was my own inner world thinking. It would have helped to have a Twitter, or PLN or online community for me to turn to and ask questions and discuss this with. 


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Photo of Chris Good

Awesome interview Jennifer! It was great to hear Eric's story about how "Pop Quizzes" went against the kind of learning he wished for his students - and his willingness (and "cultural humility") to find another solution.

Photo of Jennifer Gaspar- Santos

Thanks Chris! I learn so much from seeing other teachers learn --- always in awe, particularly of those who have been teaching for decades.

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