Michael Lau, Breakthrough Manchester

Michael Lau, Breakthrough Manchester

Name: Michael Lau
Breakthrough Program: Manchester
Subject Teaching: Civil Rights
School Attending/Year: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill/2013

What are the two most important instructional (or classroom management) strategies you learned from your Orientation week? How are you now a better teacher than before you arrived?

After nearly a week of Breakthrough orientation, I have encountered a number of different instructional techniques of which I believe that the Say-See-Do cycles and Active Participation are among the most important in the art/science of teaching. In short, the combination of using the Say-See-Do cycles and Active Participation techniques form the basic foundation for framing the mental model by which our students will be processing the new material that they are encountering from short term to long term memory. I now have a working template for planning and practicing the instructional and classroom management techniques that I have learned from the wonderful sessions taught by our leadership staff and several of our veteran teachers.

What have you learned already that surprised you? About teaching? About Breakthrough? About yourself? About your colleagues?

These past couple of days, we have been through a series of workshops called the Teacher Learning Collaborative (TLC) which is when we meet with our department and work together on incorporating all the various classroom strategies that we have learned so far into the first week's lesson plans.

From these TLC sessions, I now have a newly expanded understanding of what it means to collaborate with my colleagues to develop the most effective lesson plans. I have been astounded by the diverse number of ideas that we come up with when we meet together as a department. In addition, I have quickly learned that having a member of the leadership staff look over drafts of our lesson plan are extremely helpful towards developing better lesson plans. After meeting with either my department or the leadership staff to discuss drafts of my lesson plan, I leave knowing that the critical feedback that I have received will allow me to be an even better teacher for my students.

What is the most challenging part of Teacher Training Week?

The most challenging part of Teacher Training Week is learning how to break down the steps of a process for the task analysis portion of my lesson plans. For the skills that I will teaching my students, I have had to learn how to overcome my Expert's blind spot which is defined in my handout as "the tendency we have to skip or not notice the steps of a skill or process when we have mastered it." Fortunately, I have an amazing social studies department to brainstorm ideas with and I am confident that together with our mentor teachers and leadership staff that we will be able to develop steps that our students will be able to easily understand.