I wanted my students to engage in a debate about the formation of a new government after the American Revolution. I wanted my students to apply previous concepts of government discussed in early units of study and research the best way to convey their messages to the class in meaningful dialogue while respecting the opinions of their classmates.
Some students were completely disengaged with the lesson and honestly did not even want to participate. A few students asked, “Is this for a grade?” so they could gauge how much effort they needed to put into the assignment.
Others who were engaged did not use reasoned judgement in formulating their opinions, missing the factual debate, which led to students yelling across the room and disregarding all modes of public discourse and respect for each other.
This lesson did not work out as planned, but there are a few things I can learn from this experience. I should have laid the foundation for a debate explaining the importance of respecting the opinions of each other while trying to find common ground.
Some students did not apply the previous concepts so it is important to revisit those concepts before implementing a lesson like this. Tomorrow, I will have to explain this in detail to them and open up for a class discussion on how to make this type of lesson work.
Take all the information from the previous step and apply it to your lesson. Break it down into simple steps. Maybe use technology to create an online discussion using Google Classroom, Canvas, or Showbie to help them organize and express their ideas before voicing them. This will also give me the ability to facilitate and monitor the discussion.
Many teachers experience issues like this in the classroom, unless you were simply born with the ability to brilliantly instruct, engage, and ignite the learning process. The best part about this is that most teachers already use the After-Action Review subconsciously and if not, it is easy to start implementing a self reflection process to help improving your craft of teaching.