Thursday, March 7, 2013

Update on my thinking

Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching - a NZ perspective is challenging me and inspiring me. Authors Rachel Bolstad and Jane Gilbert published this in June 2012. A NZC update from Issue 26 in the Education Gazette does a 4 page summary of this too.

Ok, so we all know that something needs to change in education. In some cases possibly a lot needs to change. The success of this is hinged on my ability as a leader in my school to work out the process for this change. What experiences and learning might my staff need? What systemic changes might we need to make?

First question. Why change?
Basically I would challenge a lot of schools to identify at least 10 things that look different in their current classroom to a photo from the 1900s. Actually, we did this at the start of the year. Kind of like the "spot the differences" activities we did as children, but this time we tried looking a bit deeper. Yes, blackboards have changed to whiteboards/smartboards and the desks have changed a bit. Classes are generally smaller and the teacher looks a bit friendlier too. The biggest change we could see was the technology. Desktops, laptops, ipads. We still have 4 walls, one teacher and a certain number of students in there. Not a lot else seems to have changed. Why not?

I think we, and by we I mean schools, are kind of stuck. We think we have to keep on doing what we've always done because that's the best way. Obviously there are lots of exceptions. Some schools have been able to have modern learning environments (mles) built and I do believe that the physical environment effects the students and allows teachers to operate in non-traditional ways. So the challenge for schools, like mine that still have traditional classrooms, 4 walls etc, is to make changes in the physical set up that show the students that things aren't the same, that we won't be doing things how we always have.

So what type of teacher is needed? Clearly someone who can make a paradigm shift and operate their class in a non-traditional way. And that leads me on to Chapter 6 - "Changing the script": Rethinking learners' and teachers' roles.

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