Welcome back to the second installment of An interesting Perspective. This week we will be discussing the idea of teaching in the margins, and the importance behind this concept.
Take a look at the pictures above. What are their similarities? What are their differences? Which one would you enjoy being in more? Which feels more engaging? Which feels more exciting?
These questions and ideas are applicable to a classroom, just as they are applicable to the pictures themselves. Students will enjoy an atmosphere that goes above and beyond the norm. So many teachers stress about covering all the material and forget to dive deeper into the content that presents itself. But why don’t teachers dive into that content?
The best teaching occurs in the moment. Whether it be a slew of hurricanes, a solar eclipse, or a newfound creepy crawly in the room, their implementation within the classroom can provide a new and interesting way for students to look at and apply the content they are learning to the “real world.”
Brookhaven, Buckhead, Sandy Springs, Vinings schools use solar eclipse as teaching tool https://t.co/eHIyPJ4Xkg
— Davis Academy (@Davis_Academy) August 24, 2017
Going beyond the norm (also known as the center) is when you start to get into the margin. The margin is an area where things are more diverse, and you never truly know what lies around the corner. This is another reason why teaching in the margins is difficult. You never know where the discussion or activity will lead, and that uncertainty can be somewhat intimidating, especially to new teachers. With this said, it is essential that teachers take a step outside their comfort zone to give their students the best chance at mastering the material.
Advantages of teaching in the margins:
- Better understanding of material
- Allow for more fluid discussion and questions
- Reinforces the material in a way that is more relatable to students
- Enhance students’ interpersonal skills
- Allow for personal and academic exploration
- Promotes curiosity
Below is a brief list of some marginal teaching examples:
- Observing a natural phenomenon (i.e. Solar Eclipse)
- Making a model cell
- Constructing a three dimensional Biome
- Having a class-wide competition
- Documenting the processes that the creepy crawly in the corner of the room undergoes
Margins vs. Teachable Moments
- Spontaneous or planned
- Content driven
- One-time occurrence
- Classroom catalyst
However, to have these margins, there must be a center. As stated previously, the center is often what is considered the “norm.” This may be general instruction such as lecture or discussion. Without this center, there would be no margin. This is because in order to have a margin, there needs to be a center, otherwise a margin cannot exist.
Finding that balance between being in the center and venturing out into the margins is what distinguishes an exemplary teacher from one in the middle of the pack.