Reading the Words

Imagine reading a paper (Culture Shift: Teaching in a Learner-Centered Environment Powered by Digital Learning) that said this:

 Learner-centered education dramatically impacts the work of educators, and education systems and school must empower teachers to apply their pedagogical knowledge, instructional skills, and digital tools and resources to meet the needs of individual students.

So teachers should know about the science of teaching and be given the authority to determine best practices for teaching in their classrooms.

Educators are empowered to use innovative approaches and personalize learning in face-to-face, blended, or virtual environments.

Teachers empowered again to choose different approaches.

…opportunities for teachers to learn from each another and from outside experts, …

Teachers as chief learners, right?

…students who have the knowledge and ability to solve problems, think critically, collaborate with others, and communicate in a variety of media.

More important than content is teaching students to think critically, and problem solve.

Deeper learning skills:

  • Knowledge and mastery of … content

  • Critical thinking and complex problem solving

  • Effective communication

  • Collaborative work, self-direction, and incorporation of feedback

We might be able to measure mastery of content with tests, but the rest of those skills require more of an experts subjective observation.

…meeting students where they are and helping them to develop the knowledge and skills they need.

Getting to know our students and tailoring instruction to them.

For example, a student may have the option to utilize simulations or access content that is in a visual or audio format.

Note it doesn’t say teacher creates content in all possible formats but allows students to access.

…open-ended nature…problem-solving strategies and critical thinking are applied…

More thinking skills

…access to learning anytime and anywhere.

This might just require a touch of Connectivism

…flexible…

Imagine a public school (not just a teacher) that is flexible in terms of meeting a student’s needs.

…extend learning opportunities outside of school…

This is flexible. Will the learning I do on my own time have meaning to a public school?

Learner-centered instruction demands that teachers develop different professional roles and responsibilities.

I am willing is my administration? Is my school board?

…shift the teacher’s role from disseminator of knowledge to a facilitator of learning or “education designer.”

A teachers evaluation should not depend on how well students listen.

Formative assessments…

A formative assessment could be an observation while a student struggles with a problem and a well-timed question or comment.

Providing the student with control of his or her learning

Is this possible in public school? Does this fit with Common Core State Standards?

Eliciting student work to demonstrate understanding of specific language and concepts

This is called measurement of knowledge, or mastery of content, through a means that does not include a test. Sometimes known as allowing teachers to be professionals.

…learner-centered teaching encourages collaboration …

Meaning teachers talk about how effective they are, and what they can do better, not how poorly the students listen.

“When teachers collectively engage in participatory decision-making, designing lessons, using data, and examining student work, they are able to deliver rigorous and relevant learning for all students and personalize learning for individual students”

Teachers are part of the decision making process of education. I wonder why students and parents were left out of this process?

Professional learning communities

Emphasis on professional

These other countries dedicate significant resources to professional learning opportunities that are ongoing and sustainable and emphasize collaboration among educators.  …about 60 percent of their time in classrooms.

Done right the most important part of a teacher’s day is his or her reflection and discussion of teaching practices, not time spent in the classroom. Remember from earlier, teachers’ roles are changing. They don’t need to lecture content as much, rather they are “education designers”. They need to spend a significant amount of time thinking, talking, and designing the educational environment. After that the classroom teaching really just happens.

Professional learning: Informal …Communities of practice

Informal yet still professional.

In some cases, teachers who are early adopters of digital learning or other instructional strategies do not have peers with whom to collaborate in their own school or district, so they seek out others on social networking sites or CoPs.

Like students learning for teachers is not limited to within the school walls or what is provided by the district.

…the education system faces many challenges that can hinder the development of strong cultures in schools.

Culture is empowering teachers to be the decision makers. Allowing them to take chances and innovate. Not everything will be perfect and that is what make each child’s education right for the students.

Classrooms many not be as quiet, ad students should be working on different things at different times.

Learning is often social and noisy.

While instructional practice should be evidence based, educators need to trust that it is acceptable to try a new lesson or strategy and possible fail, and that reflection and learning will be encouraged.

Not everything is perfect. No one person or one observation should make or break a decision about the quality of a teacher. It’s a holistic thing.

The culture shift required to move toward a learner-centered model must respect teaching and what is necessary to meet the individual needs of students on a daily basis. The culture must carefully consider collaboration among teachers and the development of professional learning community among educators in which they are all working together toward the same goal.

We are a long way from this and measuring test scores is counter-productive.

  • …understanding …a learner-centered environment…

  • Empower school and district leaders to develop collaborative working environments for teachers….

  • Integrate technology and digital learning into the strategic planning…

  • Elevate the profession of teaching

Again the power of teaching is not in how much content a student masters, rather it is in setting up the best possible environment to facilitate that learning. Measuring teacher quality through student test scores is counter-productive. Instead we should be measuring teacher quality through their ability to adapt to specific situations in their classrooms. This requires close observation over long periods of time. It requires collaboration among equals. It requires teachers to be allowed to make mistakes and honestly implement reforms that may or may not work the first time. reforms that may have to be reevaluated and changed depending on the circumstances. Basically the best teachers are those who are continually changing practices and implementing new ideas based on individual circumstances.

 

I just think if a group is going to say what we want to do but then later implement practices contrary to the stated philosophy then perhaps we should point to their words and hold them to it.

 

 

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Making Decisions

Making Decisions

 

After doing the readings and listening to the Elluminate session during this week’s edfutures lesson. I just keep going back to how can I use this new-found knowledge of decision-making in the classroom.

 

Basically, as I understand it decision-making is making educated guesses about what the future is going to hold. We base these decisions on past events and past experiences. We can train for eventualities, but at least for me, that doesn’t really help as much as having the real experiences.

 

I’ve read before that Captain Sulley was the exact right person to be flying a jet that was going to have to make a crash landing into the Hudson River because he lives and breathes flying. When the birds hit the jet he didn’t panic, rather he fell back onto his training and did what he had to do to land the plane safely. Recently, I’ve heard that other pilots working in simulators have managed to return the jet to the airport.  Whoopie do! First, there is a difference between the real thing and a simulator. Second, I think the first time people in general encounter a situation the likely hood of achieving the best possible result is, I would think, unlikely. Now that a jet has crash landed into a river we can practice for that eventuality. The next time, we hope the pilot will be ready and will return the aircraft to the airport. 

 

That brings up two points. First, I think most decision-making really comes after the fact. Second, we can and do use that decision-making to improve.  

 

When something unexpected is happening it seems to be best to have someone with as much experience as possible running things so that he/she can evaluate the situation and unconsciously find a solution that doesn’t exist for a problem that has never been encountered before.

 

After the unexpected we then can go back examine what happened, good and bad, and reconstruct alternatives to create better solutions. Hence, other pilots use simulators to recreate a jet crash and learn how to turn the airplane around and return safely to the airport. I wonder how many of those simulations ended up in a crash?

 

In today’s school I don’t understand why more pre-service teachers aren’t asked spend more time in the actual classroom teaching under the guidance of an experienced mentor. I’ve been saying for years, and I think almost every teacher in the world will agree that teaching programs should have a two-year internship. One watching and co-teaching everyday with a master teacher and the second teaching, but planning and being observed with a master teacher on a weekly basis.

 

What does all this decision-making research have to do with the future of education? That is a good question. I think it means we are taking education in the exact opposite direction of what we should. We should be promoting the most experienced educators to leadership positions and let them guide us in the best direction possible. Evaluate the results and make corrections through decision-making analysis later. Instead we are putting people with experience in management in charge of education and asking them to save education. They may be most likely to save the budget crisis of education in America, but least likely to save education itself.