Those who marvel at or question the vacations teachers enjoy are unlikely to have experienced the energy drain that the profession involves. There are inevitably other professions that demand emoti…
Recently a friend and I were going back and forth about the demands of teaching. While my friend acknowledged that he could never be a teacher, he didn’t agree with me that teachers needed to ease up, slow down, even let a few balls drop in order to perform at high levels. It wasn’t as if my friend was clueless as to what teaching entails. Over the years he has spoken with many educators so he has heard about what it is like to be a teacher.
But he’s never been a teacher.
Well put Gill. What I feel is often missed is that it takes a village to raise a child and a teacher. For all the talk of coaching in the last few years we seem to have overlooked the development of people to instead focus on some odd measurement of success.
I always find ‘good teaching’ intriguing. In part I hear Bruce Dixon/Will Richardson yelling that it is ‘all about learning’, but then I have Gert Biesta discussing the purpose of education. Thinking back over all the different contexts that I have found myself in I feel that ‘good’ was as much about working with the students in front of you or the staff next door. One lesson I learnt early in my career is that not every strategy works in every situation. I wonder then if ‘good’ is as much a verb as it is an act described?
Schools and teachers can play a part in what kinds of behaviours and successes are normalised and rewarded within the school environment. Those working in schools can ask themselves questions about how gender is normalised. Are boys encouraged to be alpha competitors or are quieter achievement and ways of being also noticed and rewarded? Is the catchphrase ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘he was just joking’ used to dismiss put-downs of others or the objectification of women? Is strength and success measured by sporting prowess and outward expressions of courage or by a range of possible successes in multiple arenas? What does ‘courage’ mean to the school community? Are multiple ways of ‘being a man’ celebrated and held up as exemplars?
Deborah Netolicky reflects on her experience of teaching boys. She highlights three aspects: boys need a safe and trusting environment with high support and high challenge, boys respond to engaging curriculum content and boys benefit from regular, tangible feedback, a mixture of role-models, as well as hope and persistence. As I think about my own experiences teaching and parenting, I am left wondering why these approaches do not apply for girls too? Another interesting read on the topic is Adam Boxer’s question of boys and competition.
Great provocation Adriano. Always so much to consider.
Two things stood out though to me were your discussion of digital literacy and mention of learning plans. I agree with you that digital literac(ies) are important. My only concern is that we are not critical enough about some of the assumed practices of staff and students. I love Jacques du Toit’s Tweeting Aztecs project, I just feel that maybe such projects are best done in a space such as Edublogs.
Your reference to individualised learning plans reminds me of the work coming out of Templestowe College. I feel that the biggest challenge with this is allowing students space to take action on their learning. I worked in a school a few years ago where time was allocated for staff and students to regularly meet to develop learning plans. The problem in hindsight was that the practice and the wider pedagogical beliefs were split. I am wondering if you too have faced this connundrom?
So look at the power of the tools you have at your disposal. Look at what you can do with a camera. With a computer. With your voice and your connections. Look at whose voices are missing in your classroom. Look at who your students need to meet so that they can change their ideas of others.
We say we teach all children, but do we teach all stories? Do we teach the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, or just the sanitized version that will not ruffle any feathers? I can choose to bring others into our classrooms so that their stories are told by them. I can choose to model what it means to question my own assumptions and correct my own wrongs.
I really like Ripp’s point that we need to consider how we use technology, it just makes me wonder what play technology can play in silencing voices? Whether it be the labeling of gorillas or the normalisation of whiteness by camera flashes and filters, it feels that speaking ones voice is easier for some than others for a range of reasons.
Fiona, I love your honesty with this reflection. So often when it comes to technology it involves using some other time to prepare for a lesson. This is not always feasible and as you demonstrate, not always sustainable.
My blog is a place where I take apart my ideas, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made. Each episode is produced and edited by host and creator aka me, wherever I am. Using the jumbled, thought tracks that keep me awake at night, I ask myself to delve into the specific decisions that went into creating my work. I barely edit them, and not frequently enough checking for typos, but condensing the story to be tightly focused on how bring my ideas to life.
Alan Levine riffs on Song Exploder and the way in which each episode deconstructs a song bit by bit. He uses this as a model for reflecting on a lesson as an invitation for blogging. Not only is Levine’s example that he provides an interesting task in itself, but the whole activity bank is a great example of the heutagogical nature of Communities of Practice.
Is instruction really necessary in schools? Just like that question, today’s conversation will make you think–maybe like you’ve never thought before. We are digging deep into the craft of teaching and what it should involve. The conversation includes our friend, mentor, and educational leader, Gary Stager, who rolls out ambitious and daring initiatives with his teacher training institutes.
Gary’s focus is on the nature of teaching. He says that since the mid-80’s, we have removed the art of teaching from teacher training, and now we have a generation of teachers who don’t know how to teach. Because of this, we need to create a productive context for learning and “bridge the gap.” How is this done? We need good projects instead of “reckless instruction.” Gary believes that deep, meaningful learning is often accompanied by obsession. He focuses on answering the question: How can we create experiences and context in classrooms where kids can discover things they don’t know they love? This is done by implementing good projects that spur creativity, ownership, and relevance.
As always, Gary Stager challenges many assumptions about learning, education and schools. Having been toone of his sessions, there is a certain magic in Stager’s deft provocation at the point of need. What he demonstrates is the importance of understanding the curriculum in order to celebrate the spread of learning, rather than using the curriculum as a guide.
I remember deciding that I wanted to be a teacher when I left school and although I became a teacher, my reasoning for why I wanted to teach considerably changed. I started out with an interest in History and in hindsight, probably subject knowledge and skills, yet when I finished my studies I was more interested in creating the conditions for others to wonder.
I think I teach (or am involved in education) to support others in reaching their potential, but also in engaging in interests. I remember being told once that the word essay is best understood as ‘your say’. I have never actually found a reference for this, but the lesson stuck.
Syndicated at Read Write Collect
when it comes to education, if we’re really interested in quality, we need to shift the conversation. We need to make it more about helping teachers to improve the quality of what goes on in their classrooms, and less about casting them as personally or professionally inadequate in the public space. We need to make it more about teachers’ practices and less about teachers as people. We need to make it more about real, collegial professional learning for improvement and less about trying to regulate our way to quality.
To be the best teacher in the world you need to become a bionic educator. We have the technology. Now let’s use it to transform learning!
Many things that get labelled as “fads” might work for an individual teacher (although many things might work better) but they only become fads when divorced from their original meaning and then are spread around and are imposed on other teachers. Teachers, being brilliant, are able to make these things work as best they can, or at least to minimise harm, but they still have an opportunity cost. Worst still they add to our workload and drive teachers out of teaching.
The solution is to give teachers time to study how pupils learn and time to reflect on and discuss their own learning – and then to allow them to teach. If someone wants to discuss a new method then that is wonderful; but it needs honest critique and the ideas behind it need to be explored.
This is an interesting post. I had never thought about the ability of teachers to make the most of a bad situation.
Another approach to this situation is to support teachers with structures, rather than solutions. Some of these approaches include Modern Learning Canvas, Agile Leadership and Disciplined Collaboration.
Discussing the teaching of literacy in Australia, Deb Hayes talks about uncommon pedagogies and the development of an oeuvre:
How might we support teachers to develop their oeuvre? What might the public discourse of schooling look like if it were to be based upon a deep respect for teachers, their knowledge and their understanding of the local conditions of teaching and learning?
Each of these perspectives provide a different approach to implementing change in education.
h/t John Johnson