Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lifelong learning

I have been pondering on this topic for some time now. I even spent over 30 minutes on the phone last night with a colleague discussing it. So, I was very pleased to come into work this morning and stumble across Brianna Crowley's blog post, Tips for Tech-Cautious Teachers! I eagerly read in anticipation of finding the solutions to why so many teachers are so cautious when it comes to technology. I'm not sure that I walked away with anything new to help teachers, but she did arrive at one of the same conclusions I have. We need to model lifelong learning for our students.

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of conducting a teacher workshop at one of our high schools. I was so totally pumped up because I was going to have a full class of teachers willing to give up their afternoon to enhance their skills! The workshop was over a tool that has been in our system for some time now, and I had anticipated that I could gloss over some of the very basics such as how to find the tool, how to use the browser, etc. After a couple of minutes, I realized that I was not going to accomplish all that I had planned and went to Plan B. We ended up having a terrific training and I look forward to returning to the campus again soon and continuing what we started with these teachers!

Anyway, it struck me that I have seen some of these teachers before in a similar if not the same training, and they didn't seem to have made much progress. They were taking copious notes of each and every step in the process - a process that for me is rote (and I am no spring chicken). A couple of the teachers even said, "I need to write everything down. I won't remember how to do this again." I shared my Google presentation with them which had the major steps laid out, but it isn't going to help them with the steps where they need to look at the screen and decide what is the next click.

The experience has me thinking if there is a better way. Is there a way that I could change the way I train to better empower the teachers. Am I the problem? These teachers come expecting me to be the expert. I do the thinking for them and they sit and get. Isn't that what we are asking them not to do? Why am I modeling poor instruction? Aren't the skills I should be developing for teachers the same as they are developing for their students - critical thinking, problem-solving, true ownership of learning?

I had a room full. These teachers want the information and want to learn, but their model for learning is still in book form. That is how they have always learned. Is that bad? I used to think so but now I'm not so sure. Should we try and meet learners where they are and move them forward? I'm wondering, if to some, we are expecting them to move too far too fast (after all, I did it - it can't be that hard) and for them it is like jumping over the Grand Canyon.It isn't that they don't want to learn, we are just not presenting in the way that they know. Would it be OK to present the material visually in video, or does it need to be something that can be printed? Or, is time the real issue? Is the step-by-step, material in print desired because it shortens the time to learn the real issue?

As Briana says, "Occasionally, we teachers need to let ourselves experience discomfort and uncertainty, just as we expect our students to do." I'm not sure that teachers don't see that, but I am wondering if they are so busy with other facets of the job that they have a hard time carving out that exploratory time. These teachers gave up their afternoon. Were they just wanting/needing to try and make the most out of it?

Still pondering where to go now...  

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