Posts Tagged ‘professional development’
I often mention that one of the roles of the educator is that of an ethnographer. Loosely defined, . . .
An ethnographer is a person who gathers and records data about human culture and societies. An ethnographer often needs to be able to find patterns in and understand issues faced by a wide sample of people with diverse backgrounds. The information ethnographers collect can be used not only for providing a better understanding of societies, but also for improving quality of life. (http://www.wisegeek.com/what-does-an-ethnographer-do.htm)
As teachers know, every class they teach is different, every student in each of these classes is different and unique. Good teaching entails seeing (really seeing) every student in the classroom, getting to know each of them as the individuals they really are and deserve to be. (Disclaimer: I know this is difficult, if not impossible, for educator who work with hundreds of students at any given time.)
The teacher as an ethnography gets to know individual students as individuals, being able to assess what the student needs when. Teaching as a human-humane process translates to knowing when to push, when to pull back, when to ignore, when to encourage, when to praise, when to critique, when to challenge, when to nurture, when to cheer, when to show love.
Monica took a teaching methods with me where the class project was to develop a curriculum unit. I believe and practice mastery learning. This means students can make revisions and resubmissions when their work does not meet project expectations and criteria. She worked on the changes I suggested. Upon a second review, it was still B work, but I knew how hard she worked. I basically said to myself, “She worked quite hard, to the best of her ability,” so I granted her an A for this winter intersession course. It was the beginning of Winter term. I was walking past the dorms. Monica came out into the second floor balcony with a paper, her grades, in hand. She exuberantly yelled to me, “Jackie, I got an A in class. It is the first A I have gotten in college.” The look of joy on her face was priceless.
Don’t get me wrong. It is not about giving students A’s to raise their self-esteem. Sometimes the human-humane process is to push a student to his or her limits.
Andrew, a 25 year-old, was a Teach for America student in the Master’s of Education program where I was teaching. He received a Bachelor’s degree from an Ivy league school, and came to New Mexico for the programs. For the curriculum class I was teaching, students were asked to create artifacts for their classroom – no paper nor tests. Andrew handed in his first project. It was sloppy and lacked a professional presentation. He received the equivalent to a C. He came up to me after class to talk about his grade. I provided additional feedback the problems with his work. He began to cry explaining that he always earned A’s for his work but also emphasized that his education, thus far, consisted of taking tests and writing papers. To this I responded that I understood, but that I would continue to push him to improve the quality of his projects. His work got better and at the end of the course he told me that as difficult as it was, he appreciated how I challenged him.
Being fair with students is not about providing all students with equal treatment at all times. This actually leads to unfair treatment of students as they are individuals and are not like widgets – equal in all respects. It also acknowledges and honors that individual students differ from day to day, sometimes minute to minute as they continue to learn, grasp concepts, change moods, change relationships, and to grow. This translates into continually assessing individual learner needs and offering them what you think they need to grow and learn at any given moment.
The result are those light bulb moments, when a learner “gets it” – understands something that s/he has struggled to understand, when his or her self-efficacy rises, when a learner realizes s/he is smarter than previously believed – it is these moments that are the most meaningful for me as an educator.
Educators are given a lot of suggestions about how to improve their classroom practices, but as we know, change needs to begin with oneself. I’ve heard a lot of such suggestions at recent education conferences – SXSWedu, ASCD, and DML2013 – but the missing piece is that these changes need to begin with the educators, themselves, with expectations, tools, strategies, time (for collaboration and reflection) to do so. What follows are my ideas related to how it can begin with the teacher – please add to the list if you have any others.
If we expect educators to help learners formulate good questions, we need to permit and encourage them to ask their own hard questions about their own practices, content area knowledge, and pedagogical beliefs.
If we expect educators to integrate technology into their classrooms, we need to give them the brainstorming time, strategies, tools, and training to play, tinker, and engage with technology.
If we want educators to come up with some really great ways to improve their classrooms, we need to give them innovation days with great food, beverages, and comfy bean bag chairs. (Mrs. Walf)
If we want educators to use cooperative learning strategies with their students, we need to give them the strategies and time to work with their colleagues.
If we expect educators to move beyond textbook lesson plans, we need to encourage and show them how to open-source their best lessons online, allowing peer to peer and bottom up sharing of best practices. (Kevin Miklasz)
If we expect educators to assist students in becoming self directed learners, we need to give them autonomy to create and direct their own learning journeys.
If we expect educators to embrace the growth mindset and encourage learners to be free to openly make mistakes and learn from them, we need to create schools that reflect a growth mindset in their culture, expectations, and requirements. (Joan Young)
If we want educators to develop their own professional learning communities, we need to tear down the walled gardens of the school to enable them to connect with other educators.
If we want educators to encourage creativity and innovation, we need to remove the literal and metaphorical classroom, testing, curriculum, standards-driven walls.
If we want teachers to be lifelong learners, we need to start this process with the expectancy they will be so when they are themselves young students.
If we want educators to create magic in their classrooms, we need to give them the encouragement and permission to develop and use their own unique magic wands and pixie dust.
Teachers’ Perceptions About the Achievement Gap: Understanding the Discursive Construction of Whiteness
About 18 years ago, I taught my first Master’s level course. A quiet, attentive young woman sat in the back of the room. She didn’t say much but her eyes attended to everything going on in the room. I read her first paper and said to myself, “This woman is brilliant.” Eighteen years later, I had the privilege to serve on her dissertation committee and witness her complete her formal education journey by defending her dissertation and becoming Dr. Virginia Padilla-Vigil. I am so very proud of her.
Not only does this dissertation have significance for me personally, but the content has significance for me as a teacher educator and educational reformer. As Dr. Padilla-Vigil noted in her dissertation defense, teachers are the most powerful people on the planet. They make decisions every day that affect each of their student’s lives. These decisions last a lifetime. As such, diversity and cultural awareness initiatives must include examining and unlearning whiteness-at-work and racism through the development of critical reflective practices.
The following excerpts are taken from Dr. Padilla-Vigil’s (Gina’s) dissertation are especially relevant in this discussion. I recommend reflecting deeply on her comments and findings.
Padilla-Vigil, V. (2013). Teachers’ Perceptions About the Achievement Gap: Understanding the Discursive Construction of Whiteness. Unpublished dissertation: University of New Mexico.
As I look back on my experiences as a student in northern New Mexico schools, I would describe my schooling in the tradition of the “banking method” of education (Freire, 1993). I was taught through a rigidly authoritarian framework and I have vivid memories of feeling fearful and intimidated as a learner in classrooms. Critical thinking, problem solving, analysis and other higher level thinking skills were not a major part of my school curriculum and students did not have much voice in the classroom. In fact, my school’s curriculum resembled the working class schools Jean Anyon refers to in “Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work” (Anyon, 1980).
As I heard the stories of (my study’s) participants (new teachers in an alternative licensure system), the way in which they described their schools reminded me of my own schooling experiences. Their beliefs about the world, teaching and learning, students, themselves, and the education system shape their approach to teaching and the resulting impact they have on student learning. More importantly, their ideologies, as precursors to beliefs, shape teacher behaviors and practices, which in turn impact student learning.
The participants expressed a general desire to make a difference in the lives of their students and to ensure their students achieve academic success. They held a broad perspective of diversity and acknowledged it as both a challenge and an asset. What became evident through my interactions with the participants was that while they hold positive intentions for students, their hegemonic ideologies will override their positive intentions. Without intervention, the participants’ hegemonic ideologies manifested in their practices will perpetuate whiteness and undermine the success of their diverse students.
I do not believe they are prepared to act in the best interests of historically marginalized students. Again, although well-meaning, the participants have not developed the critical consciousness and race awareness necessary to act in equitable and liberating ways. They have not gone through the critical process of unlearning racism and, as such, they will continue to repress any notions of whiteness, further supporting their deficit perspectives of diverse students. While they have gained a conceptual understanding of diversity and what it means to be an effective teacher of diverse students, their understanding is mired in hegemonic ideologies that serve to fragment their knowledge and distort their structural consciousness of it. These hegemonic ideologies were not exposed and interrogated in the program and as a result the participants did not experience ideological transformation or a re-coding of their knowledge that would disrupt their repression and denial of whiteness.
Colorblindness will prevent them from getting to the heart of inequity where they will find urgency and purpose in counter-hegemonic teaching. Not having engaged in the deep critical reflection required to expose hegemonic ideologies, the participants hold limited and distorted understandings about diversity and inequity that make it difficult for them to act in favor of truly equitable education. These limited and distorted understandings are characteristic of dysconscious racism (King, 1991) and will serve as a hindrance to their success and the success of their diverse students.
Countering inequity in the educational system is no small task. Although there are numerous factors that influence student learning, it is well known that effective teachers can make a big difference in terms of narrowing the achievement gap. Yet, our public education system continues to allow students growing up in poverty, students of color and low-performing students to be disproportionately taught by inexperienced, under-qualified teachers (Darling-Hammond & Sclan, 1996; Peske & Haycock, 2006) in under-resourced and low-quality schools.
Although I agree that teacher quality is important, I believe there is much more to being an effective teacher in a racialized society where schools serve as sorting mechanisms maintaining the hierarchial structures and preserving whiteness. As such, it will take much more than providing children of color with access to high quality teachers. Teachers must be critically conscious, having gone through the process of unlearning racism and positioned to engage in transformative counter-hegemonic pedagogy. Any reform efforts aimed at improving the education of diverse students and closing the achievement gap must take into account the powerful potential of teachers to make a difference among the many other factors that impact student learning and achievement.
For true transformation to take place, teachers must realize their roles as counter-hegemonic teachers who challenge the unjust structures, policies and practices in schools that undermine the success of students of color. Further, they need to transcend the conservative and liberal multicultural frameworks that serve as the cornerstone of most teacher education programs. To become anti-racist teachers, they need to develop a critical multicultural perspective that will serve as a tool in subverting racism (Nylund, 2006). Empowered with a critical lens, they will see whiteness as the“every day, invisible, subtle, cultural and social practices, ideas and codes that discursively secure the power and privilege of white people”, but that strategically remains unmarked, unnamed, and unmapped in contemporary society” (Shome, 1996, p. 503)
Critical reflection as an inward focused form of ideological critique can trigger a personal transformation where problematic ideologies are replaced with counter-hegemonic ones. Essentially, ideological transformation can be equated with the unlearning of racism. It is at this juncture that teachers may consciously choose their moral and ethical paths: whether to deny and repress conceptions of whiteness and continue to perpetuate and preserve it through their practices, or to acknowledge whiteness and work to dismantle it by enacting counter-hegemonic practices. The latter requires a deep commitment on the part of the teacher, and in making this commitment, the teacher subjects herself to a journey ridden in resistance and conflict, for no longer can she view her work through the rose colored glasses of the liberal framework that maintains an illusion of racelessness and the insidiousness of whiteness..
What is required is that teachers achieve ideological transformation through the unlearning of racism that replaces hegemonic ideologies with counter-hegemonic ones. Unfortunately, given the recent pendulum shift towards standards-based, accountability models of education, it is unlikely that teachers will enter classrooms with even the bare minimum of cultural competency, as competencies related to diversity are sorely lacking in teacher education curriculum and state/national standards.
Anyon, J. (1980). Social class and the hidden curriculum of work. Journal of Education, 162(1), 1-11.
Darling-Hammond, L., & Sclan, E. M. (1996). Who teaches and why: Dilemmas of building a profession for twenty-first century schools. In J. Sikula (Ed.), Handbook of research on teacher education (pp. 67-101). New York: Macmillan.
Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum Publishing Company.
King, J. E. (1991). Dysconscious racism: Ideology, identity, and the miseducation of teachers. The Journal of Negro Education, 60(2), 133-146.
Peske, H. G., & Haycock, K. (2006). Teaching inequality: How poor and minority students are shortchanged on teacher quality. Washington, DC: The Education Trust.
Nylund, D. (2006). Critical multiculturalism, whiteness, and social work: Towards a more radical view of cultural competence. Journal of Progressive Human Services, 17(2), 27-42.
Shome, R. (1996). Race and popular cinema: The rhetorical strategies of whiteness in city of joy. Communication Quarterly, 44(4), 502-518.
I had the opportunity to do experiential corporate training as part of being a graduate assistant. Learning how to conduct training and development for corporate groups was some of the best training I ever received to hone my skills as an educator. Two of the lessons learned that are pertinent to this post are:
- The Importance of Continuous Quality Improvement
- Implementing a Procedure for Formative Evaluation
Continuous Quality Improvement
Continuous quality improvement is often written into the missions and built into the practices of high performing corporations. Because I became impressed with this practice, I included it in my own mission statement and guiding principles as an educator.
Set standards that encourage continuous improvement and the production of ideas that result in improved solutions.
Some of the tenets of Kaizen [the translation of kai (“change”) zen (“good”) is “improvement”] can help guide the practice of continuous quality improvement within one’s teaching.
- Improvements are based on many small changes rather than the radical changes.
- All educators should continually be seeking ways to improve their own performance
- Ideas for change and improvement come from the educators and students themselves.
- Educators to take ownership for their work and related improvements.
I advocate for the use of reflective practice activities by educators and by students, and discuss this in Where is reflection in the learning process?
Reflective teaching means looking at what you do in the classroom, thinking about why you do it, and thinking about if it works – a process of self-observation and self-evaluation. By collecting information about what goes on in our classroom, and by analyzing and evaluating this information, we identify and explore our own practices and underlying beliefs. This may then lead to changes and improvements in our teaching.
This is directly related to formative evaluation. Formative Evaluation (different than Formative Assessment) is . . .
useful in analyzing learning materials, student learning and achievements, and teacher effectiveness…. Formative evaluation is primarily a building process which accumulates a series of components of new materials, skills, and problems into an ultimate meaningful whole. – Wally Guyot (1978) (http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/isd/types_of_evaluations.html)
I am proposing the use of formative evaluations as part of one’s teaching practice in a less formal manner than what might be used in training and development settings. The goal, though, is the same . . . to assess efforts prior to their completion for the purpose of improving the efforts (http://www.beyondintractability.org/bi-essay/formative-evaluation).
How can the educator, given limited time and resources, build continuous quality improvement and formative evaluations into his or her practices? As I previously stated, I advocate for the use of reflective practice into one’s teaching, not only for the teacher, but for the student.
I have been asking students to reflect on their learning since I began teaching. Since I am an experiential educator, our face-to-face time is/was spent doing cooperative learning activities, Socratic seminars, art-based activities, case study analysis, and others. As such, it becomes important for students to extract personal meaning. An ongoing course assignment in my classes is to reflect, through journaling, on significant learning during our class time together.
It began with them just handing in typed out versions of their class reflections. Now I do so using Facebook and Blogging. For an example, see my Facebook Page for my Interpersonal Relations course.
The purpose of this post is to propose a rationale and a means for educators to engage in continuous improvement. What I discovered through student journals and blogging is that not only does it promote reflection, it is an amazing source of feedback for me as an educator. I learn, through the student reflections, what was most significant for them during the class time. This assists me in focusing on their learning needs in future classes as well as in helping me re-design future similar courses.
I also encourage students to back-channel (usually through Twitter). I have discovered that this is a powerful form of note talking and for some students, this active way of learning helps to retain information covered during class time. As is the case for student class reflections, it also provides me with information about the points of my presentation that are most relevant for the participants. This helps me revise and re-focus future, upcoming classes.
These are just a few ways that instructional activities provide me with rich data of what they learn and experience during class time. I, then, take the initiative to use this data as a type of formative assessment to engage in and practice my form of Kaizen, continuous quality improvement.
I have jumped onto the Flipped Classroom craze to take the opportunity to propose and discuss an experiential model of education (ala John Dewey and Kurt Hahn), one that has experience at its core and provides learning options for all types of learners. In this model, the videos, as they are discussed in the flipped classroom. support the learning rather than drive it.
My series on the Flipped Classroom – The Full Picture includes the following posts:
- The Flipped Classroom Model: A Full Picture
- Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture for Higher Education
- Flipped Classroom Full Picture: An Example Lesson
- UDL and The Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture
This post continues the series by providing an overview of The Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture using mobile devices. Each phase of the model has suggestions and ideas for mobile-driven learning activities which can be implemented on most devices. This supports Bring Your Own Devices programs and increases the chances students will use similar learning activities on their own devices outside of the classroom environment.
A major focus of mobile learning these days seems to be centered on the apps, but my focus is on designing and providing mobile learning activities that are cross platform. Smartphone ownership is up in the United States, but it is still not universal and especially not within lower income communities. Discussion of the app gap and this type of digital divide has occurred within several recent articles:
It also is the basis of my teaching philosophy – to provide access to learning regardless of learning differences, income, digital access, and geographical location. Most students own mobile devices that have photo and video taking capabilities, and have Internet for content access. The mobile activities described for the model below take advantage of these functions.
The lesson or unit begins with an authentic, engaging, often multi-sensory and often hands-on experience. Its purpose is to hook and motivate the student to want to learn more about the topic.
Photo and/or Video Examples of Real Life Situations. One method to do so is to ask students to locate evidence of the learning topic in their immediate environments and record that evidence via a media sharing sites such as Flickr or Youtube. Both of these sites generate (random) email addresses that can be given out to students so they can upload their photos or videos to the educator account. Students do not need email accounts. The media is then aggregated onto the educator account. For example, at the beginning of a unit on personal identity, I asked students to take photos of their core values and upload them to my Flickr account – see Picture Our Values. This description also includes directions how to set up a Flickr account for a class project.
Texting Observations, Questions, Two-Way Communications. Students can use their texting functions to interview one other, discuss real world observations made, and report on real life experiences based on suggestions provided by the educator.
Example experiential mobile activities I have done with students to engage them in the topic include:
There are so many ways to get students excited about the content topics especially when asked to use their mobile devices to do so. My advice to educators is to take the best experiential activities they have done and/or experienced and include a mobile element as I did with the activities above.
During this phase, learners explore the theoretical concepts related to the topic being taught. This is the phase where videos, such as those being discussed in relation to the more popular articles and posts about the flipped classroom, are used in the lesson. To make the content more accessible, as per Universal Design of Learning, a multimedia learning environment needs to provide multiple, flexible methods of presentation. It is important to include content material presented in a variety of formats including ebooks, audiobooks, and content-rich websites can serve this purpose.
- Video services such as Youtube which features Youtube Education has several mobile options, Youtube for Mobile. Students will need to have internet access.
- Audiobooks and Podcasts through services like Librivox
Read books on mobile/cell phone, e.g. BooksinMyPhone
The key to this phase, to the use of these materials, and why it is called the flipped classroom is that content resources are recommended to the learners, and then they review them during the own time frames, sometimes as homework.
Learners should, often need, to be given the opportunity to reflect on what they experienced and concepts explored during the previous phases. For learning to be meaningful, they need to construct their own meanings and understandings of the concepts covered.
Some options for learners to reflect and synthesize their key learnings include:
- Microblogging with Twitter using hashtags.
- Microblogging through SMS and group texting services such as Cel.ly
- Blogging and Media-Based Reflections via Posterous in the Field or Cinch
- Phonecasting via ipadio or Google Voice or Cinch
- Photo-Audio Sharing via Yodia: Yodia in the Classroom
- Vodcasts/Video Reflections uploaded to Youtube (uploading from a mobile)
- Texting summaries: e.g. Messaging Shakespeare
Demonstration and Application
This is the integration phase where students demonstrate what they learned and how they will apply it to other areas of their lives. This can be viewed as a celebration of learning where students create a project that represents their key learnings, significant experiences, and commitments-contracts for post-lesson implementation.
I discussed ideas for using Web 2.0 for this phase in Technology-Enhanced Celebration of Learning. Many of these strategies can work on the students’ mobile devices.
The following is TJ’s example from an undergraduate course on interpersonal relations. He used his skills at the Minecraft game and the webcam on his laptop to demonstrate what he learned. What is especially relevant about this demonstration is that TJ has a mild form of Asperger’s Syndrome.
The Ted-Ed website was introduced today and received a lot of press coverage:
- The Atlantic: The Digital Education Revolution, Cont’d: Meet TED-Ed’s New Online Learning Platform
- Fast Company:
- Mashable: TED’s New Site Turns Any YouTube Video Into a Lesson
- Forbes: TED-Ed Hits the Classroom with New Video Website
Prior to going into my critique of this so-called educational revolution, I am giving this disclaimer, I love TED and love the videos being produced by Ted-Ed.
Khan Academy and the new Ted-Ed website are being touted to create an educational revolution. What I am concerned about is the underlying pedagogy of Ted-Ed and Khan Academy. I love listening to a good talk and talking about it afterwards, but does it change my thoughts and/or behavior? Typically not. Grant Wiggins’ recent post, Everything you know about curriculum may be wrong. Really discusses this point:
The point of learning is not just to know things but to be a different person – more mature, more wise, more self-disciplined, more effective, and more productive in the broadest sense.
In the flipped classroom, as it is being discussed, the videos, instead of a live teacher, are at the core of the learning process, become the venue for the didactic presentation. The explanation of the flipped classroom provided on the Ted-Ed website . . .
The [flipped classroom] refers to a method of instruction where classroom-based teaching time and traditional “homework” time are reversed (flipped). A teacher provides video lessons to be reviewed outside of class, which in turn gives teachers more time in class to focus on higher-order learning skills.
. . . and from the Mashable article:
When a teacher flips the classroom, they assign lectures to watch at home and save class time for working on homework together. When a teacher flips a video, they add supplemental content such as questions and additional resources.
The TED-Ed website has a suite of tools that allow teachers to design their own web-assisted curricula, complete with videos, comprehension-testing questions, and conversational tools. The Think and Digging Deeper questions are, I assume, prompts or guides for the higher level thinking. The use of lectures, quizzes, and questions to teach and for students to demonstrate learning is a Eurocentric, consumption-based model of education. There is value in linguistic-oriented and Socratic method (adding reflective questions and discussion) of teaching but it does not honor learning-by-doing. Tinkering and experimenting; engaging in the arts; going out into the community; tapping into students’ talents, interests and passions are not part learning process.
Harvard Professor Chris Dede believes of the flipped classroom . . .
I think that the flipped classroom is an interesting idea if you want to do learning that is largely based on presentation. You use presentation outside of the classroom. Then you do your understanding of the presentation and further steps from the presentation inside the classroom. I think it is a step forward. It is still, in my mind, the old person. It’s still starting with presentational learning and then trying to sprinkle some learning-by-doing on top of it. I am interested more in moving beyond the flipped classroom to learning by doing at the center than a kind of the intermediate step that still centers on largely on tacit assimilation (http://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/flipped-classroom-full-picture-an-example-lesson/).
I proposed The Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture as a way to get educators’ attention given the press this model is receiving. I did so in an attempt to encourage educators take the resources and opportunities that technology (including the use of videos) affords to truly create a learning revolution, one that is constructivist, student-centric, hands-on, and passion-based.
So are Sal Khan and Ted-Ed initiatives really going to disrupt education, create a learning revolution? It sounds a bit like Thomas Edison’s thoughts about how film would change education.
It is possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with the motion picture. Our school system will be completely changed inside of ten years. (http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/02/15/books-obsolete/)
I do see a use for high production, high interest videos but to support a student’s learning not to direct it. There is where the flipped classroom and the Ted-Ed, Khan, and other videos have value – to reinforce and add to a student’s learning – not be central to it. TED is about ideas worth sharing. I am curious if the kids, after being directed through the Ted-Ed lessons, will develop and spread their own ideas with their peers.
Kennisnet translated my model of The Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture into Dutch.
Kennisnet‘s purpose is:
Kennisnet is the public educational organisation which supports and inspires Dutch primary, secondary and vocational institutions in the effective use of ict. Kennisnet ensures that educational institutions are aware and take advantage of the opportunities offered by ict. Research has shown that, for the use of ict for educational purposes, a balanced and coherent use of four building blocks is essential. These blocks are: vision, expertise, digital learning materials and ict infrastructure. Kennisnet facilitates the schools to achieve this. Barriers are removed and the strengths of the educational sector are bundled together.