MECS Blog

Help me - I'm and Expert

Help me - I'm and Expert

Thursday, 28 May 2015  | Sue - Middle School Teacher
I’m worried my dog is going prematurely grey. His coat has always been so thick and lustrous, and so black in colour that he is almost impossible to see when it’s dark.

In the last six months or so strands of grey hair have appeared in his coat and have seemed to multiply at an alarming rate. I honestly don’t know if this is normal for a dog of his age – he is only about three years old. I am wondering if it might be stress. My other dog doesn’t have a single grey hair even though he is thirteen. Sure, his coat is thinner now but I have checked carefully and not a single grey. I’m wondering if I should begin dyeing my young dog’s coat, or just let him go grey gracefully. It is actually beginning to concern me so much I am fearful I may begin to turn grey myself.

Another concern I have is that this dog licks everything. He licks the carpet, the couch, I even found him licking the door the other day. Seriously, what dog does this? Does this mean he has some kind of deficiency? Should I take him to the vet to get this checked out or maybe go to the pet shop to buy some dog multivitamins? Do dog vitamins even exist?
 
There are lots of things I know about, and I may even be considered an “expert” in some fields, but there are huge holes in my knowledge and lots of areas where I need help (clearly Veterinary Science is not my forte). Sometimes, when we have lots of questions and very few answers it is important to seek advice from someone who knows better than us.

When I have questions relating to specific matters I have various friends I am fortunate enough to be able to ask. One problem I have encountered though, when in such situations, is that time can sometimes slip by without me noticing and a “quick coffee and chat” can end up taking six hours.

While it is a wonderful blessing to have people who are prepared to invest in me by sharing their wisdom, it can also be exciting to have answers to questions others may be asking. I love giving my students the opportunity to become an expert in a particular field so they can enjoy this feeling. Seeing them confidently answer questions others direct at them is exhilarating.

Recently the Year 9 students completed a compulsory project where they became the “experts” on a particular type of farming.  After they had completed their research they had to design a lesson they would present to a group of students to teach them about their farming technique.

This project was designed specifically to:
guide the students to develop a sound understanding of their given farming practice
develop effective teaching strategies in order to deliver their research in a way that would enable their peers to learn.

The students worked, in groups, through a booklet that guided each step of the process with detailed instructions similar to the ones seen below.

Understand the topic – Research
What do we know about this topic already?
What questions will help guide our research?
Where can we source reliable information?

Share with each other what you learned through your research.
What is the most important information?
Do you need to do any further research?

Brainstorm how best to teach others.
What things have teachers done that have helped you learn in the past?
What about these helped you learn?
How could you teach to best help students learn and achieve your lesson objectives?

Divide up the tasks.
Who is going to do what? Is this division fair?

Rehearse the lesson.
What are we doing well?
What needs improvement?
What do we need to remember for the lesson?
What still needs to be organised?

Review our lesson.
How well did we respond to the feedback from our rehearsal?
Did our lesson live up to our expectations?
Did we meet our lesson objectives?

It interests me greatly to see which students find this type of task deeply challenging and which ones shine brightly. There are so many students for whom this is an opportunity to move to centre stage from hiding in the background.

Imagine how much richer the world would be if each person was free to be an expert in their field and was equipped to share that expertise with the people they journeyed through life with. The pressure we sometimes feel to have all the answers would be removed and we would learn to value others far more. Each of us has a rich combination of gifts we can draw upon for use in our own lives and to assist others. In many ways we are each ‘experts’ even though I am using this term fairly loosely. It is refreshing to know that we do life in community so do not have to be a source of wisdom in all domains. Plus, any excuse to catch up with a friend for coffee is a good one, even if it does take six hours!
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