Saturday, October 20, 2007

Teaching, within 5 Years

If you had the gift of foresight, what do you think our profession would look like in five year's time? Are the powers of change severe enough to move the field of education out of the rut it has settled so comfortably in, regardless of the myriad changes going on in the professional world around us? This post came to mind as I read the following from David Warlick:

I think that it’s part of the job. It is my job, as a teacher, to be able to teach today — to be skilled at using today’s information technologies within today’s information environments and apply pedagogies that reflect today’s information environments. We suffer from the myths of old world education, that you go to school so that you will be prepared for the next 30 or 35 years. But the teacher we are at graduation from college, is not necessarily the teacher we need to be five years later. Those days are long behind us — and I think that the job has become a whole lot more exciting as a result.

Formal staff development is important. We all need new ideas, new energy, new inspiration. Districts and service agencies should continue to make available any kind of professional development opportunities that are successful. But it’s still the job of the teacher to be competent to teach in the classrooms that today’s students need.

Certainly, the situation is far more complex than this. Teachers do not have nearly enough time, nor enough compensation. They do not have the resources, and many resources are actually blocked from access. They are expected to do so much more than teach, and they are held responsible within conditions that are often entirely beyond their control. I’ve often said that the very best thing we could do to improve teaching and learning is to give teachers the time. Every teacher should have one hour of on-the-job professional time for every hour they spend in instructional supervision.

Warlick, whose ideas are championed in many blogs more renowned than this one, had, in the past, spoke of teaching students to teach themselves in a post not too long ago. The generation of students that is graduating college today and will become teachers in the next few years should also not be allowed to escape this responsibility as well. We need learners as much as we need teachers. We need, I should say, those willing to unlearn and relearn much more than we need anything else.


mjmonty said...

The cynic in me says that things will generally be the same...a few pockets of innovative use here and there like I see now, but I anticipate we'll have a traditional school model/curriculum that remains pervasive. With the never ending push for high stakes testing and parents who expect the same experience for their child as they had in school, I don't see a real broadening of project based/constructivist teaching and learning to the degree that we would hope. I course I hope I'm wrong, but we'll see...

Patrick Higgins said...

Each time I try to beat down the cynic in me, he tends to come out, or someone forces him out. You did just that with this comment.

True, while the pace of change in education is slow, it does not mean that those pockets cannot set a tone and a pace that is quick, light, and cutting edge. I see a trail, that once blazed, will become like Route 80. Teachers, I feel, like to know something works before they get too deep into it. We'll just keep doing it until the trust is pervasive.

atg said...

Indeed. It is about (un)learning. Great post.