A good teacher has always been much more than a giver of information, the source of knowledge. A good teacher is a coach, guide, mentor and facilitator; someone who is always curious and always seeking to learn; someone who celebrates not knowing, the unknown and seeks truth and meaning.
High stakes testing and content driven curricula have driven many schools to teach to the test and try to reach unreachable targets as they fight for funding and ultimately their existence.
The teacher is caught up in the middle of this senseless storm. She needs to teach in a way that is counter to the way she really wants to be. The ‘giving of information’ part of her role becomes the dominant method and she is forced to compromise her skills and passion as she fills up kids with meaningless facts and shallow tests in terms of higher level thinking skills.
The World Wide Web has revolutionized access to information. With so much instantly available, some fear that the role of the teacher will be diminished, but I feel that the teachers’ role will be strengthened. Teachers now can focus on what they really were meant to be. The role of a coach and guide; someone who can help kids navigate the world and bring out their natural curiosity; someone who can help the kids grab hold of that curiosity and guide them through exploration and action.
Doctors too are going through a similar journey. Patients are coming to them with a list of possible symptoms, and their role has taken on that of a guide based on experience with people-real people.
Some teachers fear loss of control and the loss of power. These are the teachers who went into the profession for the control and power.
Good teachers, the ones who went into the profession for the right reasons can breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, the Internet revolution will lead to the education revolution.
This long overdue revolution will, I believe, come from the kids themselves. They are now finding their voice and they will no longer accept the school system as it is. They will no longer conform to a pattern of learning foreign to how they were born to learn.
Like countries have toppled their governments after years of tyranny and suppression, so too will kids topple the system, which has for too long suppressed their natural way of learning.
“Focus on local, let the environment lead and build like your grandchildren will” – John Hardy
Personalizing Learning- Rethinking Education
I recently spent a day in the life of a 7th grader at my school. To all intents and purposes I was a new student and I shadowed a class all day. Double Social Studies- French – Maths, English and Double Art.
Our teachers are doing a great job in an education system the world over which has been geared towards an emphasis on knowledge acquisition and de-personalization. At our school we have developed and are piloting a curriculum which focuses on 7 key competencies we would like our children to have. (Below-excuse the poor quality of picture)
We have a lot of work to do, in particular, how to tackle the issues of personalizing learning for our kids as much as possible. Helping them to learn within a framework which connects to them. Not so much real world learning, which are often proposed by teachers as examples of how their subject relates to the ‘real’ world but THEIR WORLD learning. If motivation is vital to learning then we need to be finding ways of connecting to their world, family, history and culture.
Back to being a 7th grader. Apart from being told in the playground at recess that my jeans were “SO two thousand and ten” I felt accepted and cared for.
The English class focused on helping students to come up with ideas for creative writing.
What if………? We were invited to think about.
Some of the examples the kids came up with were:
……if we eat an apple and we suddenly had super powers
……if we could go forward or back in time
Mine was…..”What if there was a school where there are no grades, no homework and you learn about what interests you?”
Thunderous applause in the classroom and comments which revolved around the absurdity of the idea/impossible/crazy etc. (as if it were more crazy etc. than the first two examples!)
Well it’s not absurd. Scroll down this blog page and play yourself the Dennis Littky at TedXNYEd clip to see a system being used which works.
We may not be able to change the schools we are part of that radically or quickly overnight, but something to aim at…..possible….? YES.
Mindfulness in the Middle School Classroom
Every day, first period, middle school students sit in silence, clear their minds of what has been and what will be and pause. The teacher takes them through a process called mindfulness. Mindfulness can be defined as:
“paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
We know that practicing mindfulness has shown to offer benefits such as increased self-awareness, better focus and attention, decrease in stress and anxiety, improved sleep and increased empathy and understanding.
Students have all practiced mindfulness during an assembly under the guidance of one of our teachers Madame Gayou who has undertaken a training course.
Mindfulness helps students to focus on what they are doing and can be practiced at any time during the day.
These two short clips help explain what Mindfulness is: