Watch this video and ask yourself: Do I know this teacher? Am I this teacher?
And then ask: How can I guide or be guided through the shift towards improved student-learning?
In the video I say that the answer is simple – just shift a la ‘just do it’ mentality but in reality the shift is not as simple as all that. If it were, I’d like to think we would all naturally make shifts as they are needed.
No teacher wants their students to fail, to be bored, to drift away. So something is keeping us doing things that are not working for most of the people in our care. We tend to point towards outside factors – students getting younger (in Adult Ed in Quebec we are getting more and more students between 16 and 24 ever since they (re)started a new streaming type of programming in the high schools), too much technology, larger class sizes, too much administrivia, lack of instructional material, multi-level classes… – over which we have little to no control and get angry about it. I love how Sheryl writes: What makes you most angry about education? Guess what? That isn’t the problem. in Break Down, Rebuild, Start Fresh. She advocates for focusing on those things over which we do have control and sharing our successes with others.
We. We have control over the climate in our classrooms.
We can choose to remain angry or complacent and teach the way we have always been teaching and then becoming even more angry or complacent as it continues to not work for the majority of our students and for us.
We can choose to make a shift and then to seek out the guidance we may need to help us in that choice.
We can choose happiness and success over anger and complacency. Really. We can.
Have you started this shift in your own practice? How?
Have you guided someone through a shift? How?
…or chocolate covered broccoli.However you want to call it, it’s disguising something with something else to try to make it more appealing. We might try it once, even twice, but pretty soon, once we’ve licked off the chocolate we’ll recognize the core of the thing for what it is**. Basically we should “Make the vegetables themselves taste good, and you won’t have to bribe kids with chocolate.”
This is my concern with ‘new’ ways of teaching –> We get excited about them, we try to convert what we already do to them – we try to flip our classrooms, gamify our teaching/learning, differentiate our curriculum, teach to different learning styles – but all we really end up doing is stuffing a brussel sprout into an ice cream cone and complaining when they still don’t learn any better than they did before.
So how do we make the vegetables taste good? I say – instead of trying to teach teachers how to change how they teach (and then quickly jump to another way to do the same thing the following year…) , let’s focus on working with teachers on developing their relationships with each other and their students. Let’s focus on helping teachers identify what works in their classrooms, what doesn’t and to ask and answer the questions – why do I teach this or that in this or that way? Is it working? If it is – let me share it, if it isn’t – let me stop.
We speak about not losing the student for the subject – about keeping the student at the centre of learning – but do we not do the same thing with teachers? Sometimes I swear we are so focused on Professional Development Subjects that we forget about the true subject of professional development – the professional.
**my apologies if I offend the poor cruciferous veggie. We happen to eat a lot of it here (don’t ask us how we prove it…I have a 2-yr old who has developed a certain fascination with, well, with the expulsion of certain gases as a result of having eaten broccoli and brussel sprouts … enough said.) but it makes a good metaphor, it does.
“Teachers are the way they are because of the examination system in schools. They don’t have a choice.” Professor Sugata Mitra
I agree, our examination system is ancient and horrible. Not to mention demeaning. It helps school communities to exist parallel to the ‘real world’ with the false assurance that we are preparing learners to eventually make the leap over to it.
We can talk about changing the evaluation and we will change teaching – and we need to talk about it. In the meantime, we are faced with the reality of the end of course evaluations and really? We don’t have a choice? That’s a cop-out if I ever heard one. Very easy to wash my hands of the whole matter and continue teaching irrelevant material to a roomful of bored, unchallenged, disengaged students.
When teachers tell me “I don’t have a choice but to teach the way I do”, I cringe. When they allow a test to be the sole indicator of the direction in which they will guide their students, I want to weep.
And when people talk about teachers as if they have no personal control or choice over how they teach, I want to scream.
You, Professor Sugata Mitra, have just given teachers the option, the permission, to float along and teach to tests and say it’s not my fault until the examination system gets changed. Bravo.
You teach a resistant teacher the same way you teach a resistant and disinterested and disengaged student. By engaging them, by challenging them, by making sure they have fun, and giving them ownership of their own learning will bring back even a hardened student to the class.
This is something I truly believe. Even so, it can be easy at times to be frustrated with what seem to be ‘resistant’ teachers.
I fight for the rights of so-called resistant students yet am frustrated with so-called resistant teachers. There is a misalignment there. I must realign.
I must seek to understand before being understood.
I must remember the human, always.
Does flipped learning, flipped classroom, flipped ________, have to always be about replacing content with video? Because, let me tell you, that’s what I seem to be seeing and it is driving me CRAZY that I am constantly being referred to video.
I like to learn via text. Via lists. Poetry. Words. I like to read.
Replacing content with a video is not reforming education. It is wrapping it with a different bow.
What excites me about learning, what I find novel, inspiring, and full of hope has to do with the spark of relationship between teachers and students. Between different members of a school community. Once there is caring – true caring for our students as learners, as people, magic can and does happen.
(Now, that’s a flip.)
Just replacing content with a video version of it doesn’t.