On the Spot: Spontaneous Learning

Article excerpt

Professional preparation teachers in colleges and universities are constantly seeking and employing new methods to enable their graduates to move successfully from the classroom to the real world. Many practical experiences in teaching and more internships are available to our students than ever before. Many of these "hands on" experiences are being completed earlier in the student's curriculum. The main reason for all of this practical experience is to provide a competent teacher who can deal with the harsh realities of a first professional new job. The more real experiences dealing with teaching, management, leadership, and administration that we can provide our students, the easier and more successful is their transition from student to work force member.

Two areas that are also important for the student's successful transition from the classroom to the work force are problem solving and spontaneity. The "on-the-spot" concept uses both problem solving and spontaneity along with real world situations in the classroom. As the name indicates, there is a certain amount of discomfort and pressure placed on the participants. Yet it is a valuable educational experience for the student to learn how to cope in a stressful situation.

Each on-the-spot is a "real world" mini-problem. Once students are given a problem, they must respond immediately and provide a solution or solutions to the problem. To incorporate the on-the-spot concept into your classes, first develop as many mini-problems as you have class members. This will allow a different on-the-spot for each student.

A few examples of on-the-spot problems for future teachers include the following:

1. Your principal has just announced that only one course is to be left in the school curriculum. Justify physical education as this course.

2. The principal, who is one of the school's teachers, states that you have been playing favorites in your classes - athletes always get the best grades and preferential treatment. Respond.

3. You received a note from the school board indicating that your teaching attire is unprofessional and you must upgrade it. You feel it is fine, and you must defend your stand to the school board.

4. A custodian at your school, who you respect, tells you he/she saw your star athlete stealing money out of a school vending machine on two separate occasions. Confront your star athlete.

5. Your student teacher, who has done an excellent job, makes sexual advances toward you when you are taking him/her home after school. What would you say and do?

These five on-the-spots are typical examples of the types of real world mini-problems that might be encountered.

Now that you have your mini-problems collected, the next step is to actually implement the on-the-spots. During a given class period, randomly select or ask for volunteers to respond to an on-the-spot. …