The Starting Point

We can change the entire curriculum of our schools, we can re-engineer their structure and organization, we can drown them in funding, equip them with the latest technology, we can change everything about our schools; but if we, as educators, stay the same; if we don’t change our practices, and our behaviors…we will have accomplished little.

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So much of our discourse leaves out the most important element of educational reform and transformation, people.

Pete

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8 thoughts on “The Starting Point

  1. I could not have said it any better. A child’s education is only as good as the teacher he has this year.
    Good teacher + strong curriculum = much learning
    Good teacher + weak curriculum = some learning
    Bad teacher + good curriculum = very little learning
    Bad teacher + weak curriculum = no learning.

  2. Dave and Miguel,
    If we believe the starting point of educational reform is in changing the actions and behaviors of the people in education, why don’t we explore how we actually go about doing this?

    Changing our own behaviors and the behaviors of others requires more of us than we have been giving.

    pete

  3. It has to start with a complete reformation of the way we train teachers in college. I have seen first hand what teacher prep programs are doing, and I am not too happy about it. Nothing much has changed in the last 30 years. I can count on one had the number of outstanding student teachers I have seen and I would hire to teach in my building. Then, once hired, we need to work harder at training new staff members. Finally, is there any way to eliminate tenure???

  4. That’s what’s often so disappointing about edtech conferences- there’s rarely anything about creating, leading and maintaining change in schools. It’s also something that seems even harder than tech integration (for me anyway).

    I think changing how teachers are taught is key but you’ve really got to take into account the huge numbers of teachers/admins already in place with certain mindsets. Changing those out there already is a huge task that needs urgent attention.

    Tom

  5. Dave and Tom;
    I have a belief that our definition and approach to learning is holding us back. We look at learning as getting smarter about a topic and that rarely changes one’s behaviors, practices or actions. If we add to our definition of learning…being able to do new things with whate we learn, then we come to conferences and PD with a different mindset.

    We realize that taking notes and participating in interactive activities will not cut it. Changing our habits requires a serious commitment and a lot of practicing of the new behaviors; which will usually take place outside of the conference or PD session. It also requires, patience and support, since we undoubtedly fall back to our old habits once in a while.

    Pete

  6. I agree that it’s all about the people!
    And it takes leadership communicating a compelling and inspiring vision of what education can be – the change of definition that you’re talking about.

    Then there are a number of strategies for working towards that vision – pick something manageable to work on with a particular group. Otherwise it’s too overwhelming!

    And provide mentors to help guide the way and to keep talking about the dream that we’re trying to accomplish! They can help keep the vision front of mind for everyone. It takes a mentor to be there to “hold their hand” in the beginning – but then teachers take it and fly!

    One of the strategies – the integration of technology – is so exciting to me because of its ability to transform learning in a classroom without the teacher and students even realizing it!

    Walk into a classroom and tell the teacher that he/she has to give up control, empower the students, teach something they’re not the expert at, etc… – they just might tell you to go take a hike! However, setting up a lesson differently, using technology and asking leading questions, results in student engagement and creativity, problem solving, team work and it supports individual learning – it’s exciting stuff!!

    And once a teacher has EXPERIENCED it and RECOGNIZED it, now they’re motivated to CREATE it!

    One teacher I worked with looked at me 3/4 of the way through the project and said “I feel like I’m really teaching! This is what I became a teacher for!” She never “unlearned” that lesson – it only grows from there!

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