Learning to Learn

Through the work we are doing with Powerful Learning Practices, one of the focal points has been on engaging in powerful professional development and connectivity to help us be the best we can. To meet the needs of the students of today and tomorrow, there is a need to recreate ourselves. That means rethinking the way we do our job. It means redefining our actions as educators so that we are teaching students how to learn, in part by modeling the role of the lead learner.

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, in her book, The Connected Educator, also says “we must stop thinking of a teacher as a giver of all knowledge and students as passive receivers of all knowledge and adopt a learner-first attitude.” She also goes on to say that, “teaching does not make learning occur. Learners create learning.” 

In recreating ourselves, we take on a new role of responsibility and we must give serious thought to how we teach and reach kids. Some of the attitude change can come from quality professional development, but the other part, maybe even the most important piece is the realization that connected learning is a process of learning, unlearning, and then relearning………just something to think about.



Transforming Instruction

In light of my recent posts (and future posts) on transforming classroom instruction, I thought this quote was timely and appropriate.

“Education doesn’t need to be reformed–it needs to be transformed. The key is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.”

~Sir Ken Robinson

Designing instruction for today’s learners

The longer we’re in this business, the more changes we see. Some of these changes are unsolicited, while others are necessary if we are to stay current with educating today’s learners. We are constantly inundated with new ideas, initiatives and mandates being thrown at us from the federal level, the state level, and others. All, in an effort to find the magic bullet to improve academic instruction and meet accountability standards.

A critical area that I am dedicated to seeing improve is the method by which we provide  instruction. Before entering administration I was a veteran teacher who vowed never to forget the environment shared by teacher and student. Perhaps that’s why the shift in lesson design and instruction is so important and necessary.  More than ever we have the opportunity to take the best of our current practices and add innovation, rich content, the digital environment, creativity, and student voice and choice to the mix. And, the method by which we start this shift in instruction starts with our district leadership supporting teachers and principals, and making it a priority to provide the resources and training necessary for change to occur.

With all of the resources and tools available, classroom instruction can absolutely be the most powerful it’s ever been. We have the opportunity to engage students like never before with technology integration, student-driven, teacher facilitated lessons, high-level questioning and critical thinking, and creating project-based lessons that empower students to be curious and accountable for their own learning.

In today’s world of high-stakes testing we are often overwhelmed by all of the demands for students to perform well so accountability ratings will be solid–after all, that’s what we’re known for. But we must look beyond the current system to a new system that strikes a balance between teaching rich curriculum & content, stretching students’ imagination & creativity, and helping them find their voice to be successful in the 21st Century. When we see these changes occur, we will see significant academic gains and achievement gaps close.

On a daily basis I get to observe many of our teachers reaching beyond their comfort zones to pursue instructional practices and create lessons that are designed to meet the needs of today’s learner. It isn’t an easy process, but it is extremely rewarding. We must continue to provide an education system that is relevant and challenging if we want our students to be college/career ready and prepared for the future.

The transformation in classroom instruction that is described here will not happen overnight, but with the appropriate training and professional development and a resolute attitude to push forward, the transformation you see in students will resonate far beyond their expectations, and yours.