I suspect that I’ve been treating teachers a bit harshly over the past few weeks, reporting on conversations that are happening in conjunction with work I’m doing with education leaders (administrators and school board members). They’ve asked many times and in many places, “How are we going to get teachers to start teaching this way or that way?” I heard it again, last week, at the Colorado Association of School Boards, during the follow up session to my keynote on contemporary literacy.
I’m traveling across the country, speaking to and having conversations with the full range of school stakeholders, including parents and students — and the push-back is coming mostly from the teachers. But I think that there is good reason for this. Teachers have, for years, especially during the NCLB years, been the ones who’ve been told, “Fix this! Do this better! Do this harder! Make this happen! You are the one! You’re accountable! You have to work this miracle — loaves and fishes!”
It’s no wonder that teachers get skittish when I talk about such radical changes in teaching and learning practice â€“â€“ especially the young ones who have only known classrooms that are rigid, regimented, rigorous, and quantifiably measured.
I’ll say here what I’m saying to those school board members, “You have to give teachers permission and the keys to the car.” We have to be able to… I have to be able to say, “Here’s what needs to happen before we can expect teachers to retool their practices.
I tell them that teachers need:
- Time to plan, collaborate, research, assess and adapt, build, and innovate (I tell them 3 to 4 hours a day — everyday).
- Classrooms that are equipped for learning in an abundant information environment, rather than an information-scarce environment (This means wifi, a laptop in every teacher and learner’s hand, one or more projectors in each classroom, and access to the emerging technologies that channel contemporary literacy).
- Permission to safely innovate and facility to engage in professional conversations about the changes needed for relevant education.
This is just my list right now. But I suspect that education leaders and other stakeholders must come to realize that some architecture needs to happen before we can renovate the classroom and reinvent education. When that’s happened, then we can start to expect teachers to facilitate the learning that our children deserve.
TWM, “Clocks Go Back.” Twmâ„¢’s Photostream. 29 Oct 2006. 4 Dec 2007 <http://flickr.com/photos/twmlabs/282089123/>.
Most of my presentations are fairly geographic in focus. They happen at a place and at a time, and for only a few people. On Tuesday, December 11, I’ll be doing an online Webinar for ISTE, called “The Teacher’s Guide to Classroom Blogging.” ( 1 pm Pacific / 2 pm Mountain / 3 pm Central / 4 pm Eastern)
ISTE | Classroom Blogging:
It is a sign of our times that such an awkward term as â€œbloggingâ€ should integrate itself so quickly and so powerfully into our culture. This session will acquaint educators with the concept of weblogs (blogs), ways that they are affecting many aspects of our culture, and strategies for using weblogs to promote better teaching and learning. Participants will also learn how to provide a safe and secure blogging experience for students.
I have to confess that I do not actually look forward to these things. Not sure if it’s my age, various cognitive disabilities, or what; but I’m actually not very comfortable working virtually. I don’t even have a UStream account. But once I get in to the event, and accustomed to the exchange, I find that I’m having fun — and the time goes by too fast.
This will be a pretty basic session, not aimed at promoting blogging as any kind of panacea; but, instead, the importance of teaching and learning as an active, rich, and connected conversation — and strategies for using blogs, and other closely related applications to provide effective and relevant classroom learning.
I also hope to figure out ways of bringing in what practicing teacher/classroom bloggers have learned from the experience and their insights about where this is going.
So I hope to see you there…
Did you know that nearly three fifths of all undergraduate students enrolled in 2004 were women (57%). This is a trend that’s been knocked around for months, but I just ran across it from a kids’ site — a kids’ site maintained by the federal government.
NCES Kids’ Zone Home Page:
The NCES Kids’ Zone provides information to help you learn about schools; decide on a college; find a public library; engage in several games, quizzes and skill building about math, probability, graphing, and mathematicians; and to learn many interesting facts about education.
NCES, of course, is the National Center for Education Statistics, and providing tools and games for kids does make a certain amount of sense here. I learned about this site from a Class Blogmeister mailing list message from that education web wizard and Aussie ed tech evangelist, Adrian Bruce, about how his son had used the graphing tool in Kids’ Zone to graph out the colors of M&Ms.
M&Ms in Oz. Now that is just too global! 😉