Thursday, September 18, 2014

Teaching is like a LEGO set...

This post is part of the 30-Day Blog Challenge from TeachThought. To learn more about the challenge go to

DAY 18: Create a metaphor/simile/analogy that describes your teaching philosophy.

We love LEGOs at the Meyer house. We've devoted an entire room of our house to them. My husband and I coach a FIRST LEGO League. Hands down, playing with LEGOs is the number one activity for my 7 and 10 year-old sons. So I didn't have to search very far when I was trying to find an analogy for teaching. Here are all the ways teaching is like a LEGO set:
  • When you first get a LEGO set, you put it together using the instructions. But if you're anything like my sons, within 24 hours the set has been taken apart because you know you can make something better with the pieces. Teaching is similar in that your first year or two you're teaching based on what you experienced as a student or what your teacher education program told you. Over time however, you develop your own approach and strategies and slowly dismantle that first "build." For me, this constant revision is one of the joys of teaching.
  • Building new LEGO sets from scratch depends on both intellectual ability and creativity. Teaching is similar in that educators need to be strong in their content, but at the same time creative and flexible enough to reach all of their students under all conditions.
  • Cooperation results in better builds. When my sons work together on a LEGO set, it's always an amazing product that's better than what they could accomplish on their own. My 10 year-old likes to focus on the minute details of a set, whereas my 7 year-old is more of a big picture guy. Their collaborative LEGO projects depend on both of these traits, so they balance each other out nicely. This phenomena holds true for the teaching profession as well. We can make some amazing stuff on our own, but it's when we collaborate with others that the best ideas and lessons are built.
  • All of the LEGO pieces in a set come in different sizes, shapes, and colors. Similarly, teachers have many different tools available to enhance student learning throughout the teaching day. For example, It might be easier to build a LEGO house if the pieces were all the same, but the end product would not be nearly as interesting. 
  • If you're building with LEGOs you can't be afraid of making mistakes, at which point you'll have to take apart your most recent creation, analyze it for flaws, and rebuild it. Teachers are generally uncomfortable with making mistakes and revealing our weaknesses. Instead we should approach mistakes for what they are: a pathway to learn more.
Photo from Benjamin Esham, Licensed via Creative Commons. 

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