Posts Tagged ‘networked learning’
One of my learners’ favorite things to do at my maker education summer camps is taking toys apart – breaking them and then putting back together in another form. This got me thinking that breaking things should be part of every teacher’s and learner’s education. These include:
- Breaking physical objects apart to see their components and how they work.
- Breaking apart how the physical classroom is set up and letting learners help create the setting where they will learn.
- Breaking down barriers of communication . . between educators and learners; between learners and other learners; between the school and parents; between school and the community; between the community of learners and the rest of the world.
- Breaking apart and crushing stereotypes about different genders, ages, ethnicities, and sexual orientation when age appropriate.
- Breaking down walls that keep schools isolated from the world outside of those walls.
- Breaking attitudes that “we’ve always done it that way.”
- Breaking a system that believes children should be grouped by age and grade.
- Breaking (and throwing away forever) the current assessment systems and the related belief that standardized tests actually measure student performance and achievement.
- Breaking apart the idea and practice that children and youth cannot nor should not be teachers.
- And one big NOT . . . NOT breaking the natural passion and excitement that humans have to learn.
These are just my initial thoughts. What would you add to this list of breaking things as a form of education? I want to create an infographic on this list so please add to it!
A flexible and risk-taking mindset rather than a fixed one will benefit all stakeholders in an educator’s realm: the educator’s learners, colleagues, her or his learners’ families, the community, the field of education-at-large, and of course, the educator him-or herself.
Mindset is defined as “a set of assumptions, methods, or notations held by one or more people or groups of people that is so established that it creates a powerful incentive within these people or groups to continue to adopt or accept prior behaviors, choices, or tools.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindset)
Given today’s climate in education systems, one based on accountability, scripted curriculum, and teaching to the teach, far too many teachers develop a fixed mindset. Many educators feel forced into a paradigm of teaching where they feel subjected to teaching practices outside of their control. Then when they are asked to engage in a process of continued growth and development, many profess: “I don’t have enough time.”, “I don’t have enough resources.”, “I need more training.”, “I need to teach using the textbook.” ,”I need to teach to the test.”, “I might lose control of the class.”, “I have always successful taught this way.”
What happens way too often is that given these restraints, educators develop feelings of powerless and of learned helplessness. This leads to developing beliefs that they have no freedom to take risks nor to try out new things in their classrooms. Sadly, though, this becomes an over-generalization.
It is a myth that we operate under a set of oppressive bureaucratic constraints. In reality, teachers have a great deal of autonomy in the work they chose to do in their classrooms. In most cases it is our culture that provides the constraints. For individual teachers, trying out new practices and pedagogy is risky business and both our culture, and our reliance on hierarchy, provide the ideal barriers for change not to occur. As Pogo pointed out long ago, “we have met the enemy and it is us.” http://www.cea-ace.ca/blog/brian-harrison/2013/09/5/stop-asking-permission-change
Instead of this type of fixed and paralyzing mindset, educators should focus on having a flexible and risk-taking mindset. I know that these qualities can be part of a growth mindset which is usually discussed in terms of a growth vs. a fixed mindset. I wanted, though, something specific to educators that signifies their willingness to keep evolving and building their professional skills.
What follows are some strategies educators can use to develop, further develop, and maintain a flexible and risk-taking mindset:
- Develop an awareness when you enter the status quo and mediocrity complacency. Recognize it. Revisit it often. Talk about it. Shake yourself out of it in any way possible! Interestingly, Mr. C. discussed this in a very recent blog post.
I developed an “If it ain’t broke why fix it” attitude. By being comfortable and satisfied with the status quo had I stopped learning, innovating, moving forward…being successful? (Does the Status Quo Make you Comfortable?)
- Engage in continuous reflective practice. As I discussed in Where is reflection in the learning process?, educators need to be engaged in ongoing reflective practice to stay fresh and invigorated, and to insure that your actions in the learning environment are done with intentionality.
The critically reflective habit confers a deeper benefit than that of procedural utility. It grounds not only our actions, but also our sense of who we are as teachers in an examined reality. We know why we believe what we believe. A critically reflective teacher is much better placed to communicate to colleagues and students (as well as to herself) the rationale behind her practice. She works from a position of informed commitment. She knows why she does and thinks, what she does and thinks. Stephen Brookfield
- Establish both face-to-face and online personal/professional learning networks with other educators and other professionals, ones who try to live their professional lives with a flexible and risk-taking mindset.
- Try and learn new things in the classroom modeling taking risks and being a lead learner. As A.J. Juliani notes in 10 Risks Every Teacher Should Take With Their Class:
As I work with students and teachers there is one common thread that the “stand-out” classrooms share: They take risks. Not only do these students and teachers take learning risks, but they also take them together. They are partners in the learning process, where the teacher is the “lead learner”. A.J. Juliani
- Attend conferences, workshops, and other professional development opportunities outside of your comfort area . . . way outside of your comfort zone.
The bottom line becomes focusing on what can work rather than what is not working. This is not to devalue the obstacles that teachers face. It becomes about noting where change is possible and making some small changes in teaching. Small changes often result in larger, more systemic change.
. . . and sometimes having a flexible and risk-taking mindsets makes an educator an outlier educator in his or her school environment and it takes courage to be an outlier educator.
As I’ve discussed in numerous posts, I am an experiential educator. I believe in and promote learning-by-doing and hands-on learning. I approach experiential learning from a cycle of learning which includes reflecting on and analysis of things done through learning-by-doing.
Reflection, as part of the experiential learning cycle, is often as or even more important than the making itself.
A recent research study published via Harvard Business Review concluded that:
- Learning from direct experience can be more effective if coupled with reflection-that is, the intentional attempt to synthesize, abstract, and articulate the key lessons taught by experience.
- Reflecting on what has been learned makes experience more productive.
- Reflection builds one’s confidence in the ability to achieve a goal (i.e., self-efficacy), which in turn translates into higher rates of learning. (http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/7498.html)
I am excited about the current trend towards maker education but I believe it needs to embrace a full cycle of learning including engaging in reflection. Reflection within the maker movement and maker education can occur through a process of documenting learning.
Documenting learning can take on many forms:
- writing a blog
- doing a photo essay which includes
- creating a video
- making a podcast
- doing a class wiki
- doing a backchannel through Twitter with a hashtag or a platform like TodaysMeet
- making Sketchnotes and/or mindmaps
- using apps such as Seesaw or Educreations
The key is to offer the learners choices. This builds in and honors more personalized means of reflective learning.
I compiled all of my blog posts about Maker Education into an ebook that I published via Amazon Kindle. The price is $3.99. It can be accessed at http://www.amazon.com/Educator-as-Maker-ebook/dp/B016Z5NZ6O/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
The pieces include theoretical ideas, informal research-observations, ideas related to the educator as a maker educator, the maker education process, suggestions for implementation, and reflecting on the making process. Graphics and infographics created to support the chapter content are included.
The Table of Contents:
- The Perfect Storm for Maker Education
- Is It Project-Based Learning, Maker Education or Just Projects?
- Maker Education and Experiential Education
- MAKE STEAM: Giving Maker Education Some Context
- The Intersection of Growth Mindsets and Maker Education
- Becoming a Lifelong Maker: Start Young
- Making and Innovation: Balancing Skills-Development, Scaffolding, and Free Play
- Let Children’s Play (with Technology) Be Their Work in Education
- Tinkering and Technological Imagination in Educational Technology
- Educator as a Maker Educator
- Educator as Lead Learner
- Promises to My Learners as a Maker Educator
- The Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture for Tinkering and Maker Education
- Maker Education: Inclusive, Engaging, Self-Differentiating
- Team Building Activities That Support Maker Education, STEM, and STEAM
- Stages of Being a Maker Learner
- Making MAKEing More Inclusive
- Example Lesson: Maker Education Meets the Writers’ Workshop
- Reflecting on the Making Process