Authentic Transformation of Teaching Practices

March 2, 2010

In my EC&I 832 class, I’ve been asked to reflect on the ways in which ” …schools could implement computer-supported learning in ways that authentically transform teaching and learning.” So I did a little bit of general searching around the internet to see what other folks might have had to say about what they believed to be “authentically transforming practices.”

I found a really interesting website really that has some neat things to say on the subject, and sparked some ideas of my own as I was reading through the information there. Click here to access the webpage I found.

I really like the schematic diagrams they have throughout the site. Everything is interconnected, from learner needs to purposes, policies and practices. The role of the school administration is to support the learner’s needs and facilitate the interaction of the various elements. A critical thing to remember is that Instructors ARE learners just as much as the students are. Whatever the supports the school would be willing and able to provide to the student body should also be available to support their instructors, in my opinion. I strongly believe in the power and possibilities of mentoring, particularly when it comes to technological integration practices. Group learning is ideal for technological enhancement of instructional practices. Schools could support the professional development of their teachers by allowing for TIME and to facilitate the interaction of teachers with one another.

I know for myself, I learn better when I’m able to bounce ideas off of other professionals, if I’m able to compare practices with someone else, to brainstorm ideas and so on. It’s infinitely harder to think of the things one could or should do on one’s own.

What I also really love about this website I’ve found is that the principles of constructivism are prevalent throughout the school’s stated policies on learning, teaching and technological instruction. That aligns well with my own beliefs about learning too. I believe we do construct meaning and that this construction is a socially mediated event, that it builds upon prior learning and only continues when we are pushed to the outer limits of our comfort zones and knowledge.

Reflection is another key element to authentic transformation of practices. If we don’t take the time to think about what we are doing and the reasons for it, then we risk losing sight of our purpose and we risk losing future opportunities for growth. Everything we ask our students to do, to absorb, take in, reflect and iterate what is important about what they are learning, are all things we as professionals need to do ourselves with regard to our teaching. Schools can assist their professionals by paying for professional development opportunities, by giving teachers leave time to experiment with and reflect upon the various educational technologies they are implementing or trying to implement in their classrooms. Instructors should have a chance to showcase what they are learning and experimenting with to others too. There are many things schools can do that will support the learning and instructional practices of the instructors.

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6 Responses to “Authentic Transformation of Teaching Practices”

  1. tk34 said

    Thanks for this post Michelle. As a school administrator, I try (as best I can) to be supportive of the work that teachers are doing in their classrooms. This support might be in the form of suggestive feedback . . . a sounding board for them to bounce ideas off of . . . or ‘permission’ for them to do / attempt something “out of the ordinary”. Often teachers will come to me and ask “I was wondering . . . I would like to try this . . . or do this . . . what do you think . . . is this okay?” My response has always been student focussed by asking them “how is this going to benefit the students” and if there is even a glimmer of student ‘benefit’, I have always said “yes”.

    I appreciate the quote in your post where you wrote . . . “The role of the school administration is to support the learner’s needs and facilitate the interaction of the various elements. A critical thing to remember is that Instructors ARE learners just as much as the students are. Whatever the supports the school would be willing and able to provide to the student body should also be available to support their instructors” . . . this quote(upon reflection) somewhat “validated” how I try to manage my school. I focus on the student learners but I also recognizethat teachers and support staff are also learnesd . . . the importance of ensuring my they have the opportunity to grow as learners as well. I have never said “no” to any teacher or support staff who has approached me about a professional growth opportunity or any sort of educational resource they feel would benefit their teaching practice or day-to-day work . . . in turn benefiting the students they interact with on a daily basis . . . they are the ‘experts’ in their classroom and who am I to take that away from them by ‘restricting’ opportunities for personal growth or providing them with the ‘stuff’ they feel could benefit their practice? This approach has “bit me in the butt” a little bit when it comes to budget, but I want my staff to realize I recognize that I value them as lifelong learners and they need learning opportunities and support while they attempt to educate our students . . . this is the least I can do. Thanks for the post!!

    Travis

    • Hi Travis!

      Thank you for your kind comments!! I’m really glad things I said here resonated with you a bit 🙂 It’s great that you are so encouraging and supportive of your staff. I know as an instructor I feel so much more motivated and driven to do the best I can if I know that my efforts are being noticed and appreciated by the administration. There is nothing more disheartening than feeling as though one isn’t supported and nothing more motivating than feeling like you are.

      I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the teachers in your school feel very blessed indeed to be where they are!
      ~Michelle

  2. Katie Bell said

    Hi Michelle,
    I really enjoyed your post! I agree with you about reflecting and the importance of that in creating an authentic teaching or learning experience. When I was an undergrad, I used to think that reflecting was a dirty word and that once I was a real teacher, I would never use it again. I was totally wrong, I think it is one of the best ways of self-evaluation and self-evolution.

    Thanks for a great post! Katie

    • Thank you Katie! I think all of us do reflect upon our practices, even if that comes in the form of sweat-drenched nightmares in the middle of the night sometimes, lol. Though I do believe a more comprehensive and systematic way of reflecting will yield more beneficial and consistent results 😉

  3. Shawna Stangel said

    Hi Michelle,

    I have been thinking about this very topic quite a bit lately as well. These ideas very much coincide with my own belief system as well. One of my online PD sessions that I had done was about this and I think you may enjoy it. In fact I blogged about it.

    The presenter was Konrad Glogowski and he focused in on the idea that this transformation could take place but would need to include two very key ideas.
    1. Classroom based teacher development – “in-context learning” that leads to meaningful action with both teacher and learner.
    2. Reflective practice – looking critically at ourselves and how we can make a change that will affect those around us.

    This is the link to his session. http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=504

    It is about 30’ish minutes, but well worth the time. In fact I plan to share it with some of the administrators that I work with in different schools. I think that this would be a great conversation piece for a staff or a grouping of interested professionals in making a change with their practice.

  4. Michelle Clarke said

    Thank you Shawna for the video link! It was very good!! I agreed with a lot of what he said here and felt in a lot of ways that it validated and reinforced a lot of my own feelings regarding authentic instruction and learning practices.

    These sorts of conversations aren’t always easy to start and I think your idea of using this video clip as a way to do that is a fantastic one! Good luck with it and I hope to hear more about what the resulting conversations were like 🙂

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