True Teaching Expertise at UAGC

What is teaching? It's a question that perplexes many students when they first arrive at the Urban Assembly School for Green Careers.

And it's an important question to answer, because it begs a deeper question: What is learning?

In the summer edition of American Educator, Bryan Mascio discusses "True Teaching Expertise: The Weaving Together of Theory and Practice." He likens teachers to doctors, especially the way in which doctors and teachers alike must incorporate research from multiple fields into their practice.

"When a student gets something wrong, our first job is not to give him the correct answer; it is to understand why he thought his answer was correct. This is not to say that the student doesn't need to eventually get the right answer; it means that teaching him is far more complex than just relaying information . . . an incorrect answer represents current understanding, and that's the starting point"

At UAGC, our teachers emphasize the "breach," the place where thinking becomes visible. Breaching is powerful because it gets the student and those around them - whether peers or teachers - on the same page. It allows for everyone to have that ah-ha moment, about the text, about the thinking, and about the learning.

Unfortunately, too many students have had too many teachers who thought their first job was to give the correct answer. We know that learning doesn't happen that way. So why would we teach that way?

Instead, we work to build metacognition - the ability to think about thinking - and allow all students to access the most powerful resource at their disposal: their own minds.