Monday, 31 March 2014

Goldilocks can teach educators about learning.

I learn about hundreds of new things every week.  I peruse a list of items, articles, how to's and latest news on my reader "Feedly".  (It used to be Google Reader but sadly they dropped that.)  When perusing, the trick is to filter out what is not immediately useful, and store other stuff somewhere (usually in Diigo) for future reference in the hope I can remember it when the time comes.  Tags are great.  They help you search for stuff that you may not immediately remember what it was that you are thinking of.  Does that even make sense?
Another trick in my job is not to overload other people when it is not useful.  This is called "PD just in time."  You are much more likely to remember stuff when you have to use it for some specific purpose.  The same applies to learning with students.  Too much stuff becomes boring and pointless unless you are going to use it.
Our school curriculum in New Zealand is great.  There is so much scope to choose contexts that will be relevant for every student.  To personalise the learning, we need to use digital technologies.  This allows students to learn along their own pathways but it does add to the teachers' burdens.  When is "not enough" guidance, when is" too much", when is it "just right?"
I have been mulling over this question this morning, in response to an educator, Kevin Schindel, who in his blog on A New Class Project reflects whether some educators trying to develop 21st Century skills rely too heavily on the technology to be able to take over the role of the teacher.
I also read a blog by Charlotte French on "Student Agency vs Student Anxiety" this morning which really asks the question 'How much should a teacher really let go?'.  Her year 13 students want the right answers rather than having to construct the answers themselves.  Of course, they are preparing for NCEA assessments, so of course they want the 'right' answers.  Just how much does assessment detract form solid learning.  Another similar vein was raised by Heather Eccles in her blog "Good Results Do Not Necessarily Mean Good Teaching" and I could not agree more.  I just have to share this video.

Probably the 5 minute university is just not quite enough.  But how much is too much?  Are we expecting too much of our teachers?  Their roles as facilitators of learning requires them to be educated and trained in their fields, adept with digital technologies, and really overseers of the whole class of learning pathways every single year.  That is a pretty big job, don't you think?

1 comment:

  1. Thank for sharing this post, Leigh, I, too, am often wondering about the impact of juggling all these roles on teachers. Good teachers are in the job for the students, for the difference they are making to them, and they persevere no matter what - but up to what point? In particular I am thinking of a wonderful teacher who last year in tears contemplated retirement as she wasn't sure that she would be able to continue to do the best for these children - luckily she has persevered and is once again doing a marvellous job.
    Anything 'new' we do adds to the workload, and it takes a while for some teachers to get so familiar with it that the workload reduces again (until the next 'thing' comes along?). Somethings need to give - and we can't afford it to the the teachers' health and sanity. What will get dropped? How do we decide what to let go of? [Questions I am asking for myself, too :)]

    I read with interest Heather Eccles' post over the weekend, she makes an interesting point. I sometimes feel there are two different streams in education, one is what I call 'regurgitating knowledge' which to a certain degree is the easier route, the other 'creating new knowledge' which probably requires more effort. Many moons ago when I was still teaching secondary, my focus was very much on assessing regurgitated knowledge though NCEA allows for the knowledge creation if it is used well. I can understand how students that might have experienced the former and learnt to cope with it prefer that (much less effort required I think - though the retain rate of this might be similar to the 5min university education?). Will this still apply in the future with scores of students coming through primary school creating new knowledge?

    I agree with just in time learning, I do it all the time - there's much I wouldn't know if it wasn't for needing to learn it and now! - and I try to provide this to the teachers I work with. Sometimes I am wondering if there are gaps left by this approach and how to fill them?