Learnership toddler steps

There is a point where leadership, learning, and technology converge is called learnership.  In my previous post I called this the new pedagogy because we need to rethink and transform  how education will look like in the future.

Learnership as reforming you

Who are you?  Why do you teach?  More importantly, how do you teach?  Teaching is knowing how to get students to learn.  This is not creating a writing a lesson plan that structures learning so much so as to now allow for any creativity as the learning moves forward.  Rigid teaching says nothing about the student and only about the teacher.  This is why I asked who you are, why you teach, and how you go about this.

My idea of learnership allows the teacher to leader and learner using technology.  The teacher side of us lets us explain or describe what students should learn but do so along side them giving everyone a clear picture of learnership as learning together.  This concept of learning together is nothing new, but it is usually ignored in the classroom because students are thought of as not knowing as much as the teacher.

Empowering the learner

Stuck in customsMy role in education is to empower students to be a learner and not just learning – learning how to learn.  I do this in a technology class to develop their awareness of how they learn using learnership bringing together technology and pedagogy.  Students see me not as their teacher but someone who is interested in learning with them as I listen and they teach me what they know.  In the midst of class I am purposefully developing their digital tool belt or the webware they can use to demonstrate what they know and create their own content. The empowerment is using digital tools in ways they deem necessary to pull together a variety of information creating a portal so to speak of how kids think and what they have learned.

How to develop learnership – the beginning

It begins by admitting, and this is hard to do, that as a teacher you are not the focal point of the classroom and even though your title sets you apart from the kids, the title means nothing if students are not engaged, are disinterested, are not progressing based on summative assessments, are doodling, are not anxious to be in your room, and are lazy.  Admitting and careful reflection allows you to see what you do and you how do it differently.  There will be not one part of your philosophy that you do not question and reform.  Teaching strategies will transform because you see yourself as a learner and as a learner you want more than just a lesson, you want an experience.  The experience takes you to a different place in life, perspective is altered, and you transform.  What you used to  do is pale and gross.  How you thought about learning seemed to simple.  Your perspective about students shifts from learning from you to learning from each other.

It all begins with you analyzing and asking  hard questions about you as a teacher.  When reality strikes, learnership takes over and you lead as a learner not as a teacher.

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc


Meaty learning as learnership

Meatiness – the degree to which something deepens or accentuates an experience.  For example, the meatiness of discussion relies on the depth of knowledge each person(s) has about the topic.  Or, a class is meaty because it gives so much to think about. We need meaty learners, learners who can identify their passions and learn about them.  What is this kind of learning and what is it not? Let’s start with what it is not.  It is not sitting in a lecture or presentation.  It is not having a teacher download information to students as they listen passively information interaction other than to take notes.  It is not listening to a webinar.

Meaty learning is when the learner is immersed in the curriculum being coached how to learn content and demonstrate what is learned (curriculum is different than standards).  Contextually, the learner’s atmosphere drives him/her to ask questions and inquire about how the content adds relevancy to their life.  Inquiry – asking questions and answering boy learningthem, or solving problems – is meaty because the learner is choosing to delve deeper into the curriculum through their own lens. Connections between ideas, concepts, and generalizations are made bridging new learning synapses. The teacher in this kind of learning loses authorship giving it up for learnership.  Learnership is learning with students facilitating “learning how to learn”.  The student guides this auto-biographical experience  as problems are solved, questions are asked and answered, and learning products are created with the teacher being nearby as the guide.  No longer is there teaching in its original sense but transformed to guide individual learners to their own original thoughts and ideas expressed in a variety of ways.  Students learn the content and teacher is the guide.  ICT gives learners multiple paths to learn and express their learning – a beauty of technology.  Teachers are now the new learner – the kind of learner that learns alongside students. Meaningful interaction, or facilitation, with students is the glue in the classroom.  Teachers and students lose the classification of “student” and “teacher” to an encompassing category of “learner” because there is the atmosphere of learnership all love and desire.  This desire is the meaty learning as meatiness in the classroom for each person wants to grow.

Meaty teaching is learnership where the teacher is both learner and leader in the love of learning.

photo credit: World Bank Photo Collection via photopin cc

Teacher Practice Upgrade 2.0

How do we make strong groups of teachers who learn from each other, create innovative curricular models, and are constantly upgrading their practice as an educator?

This question comes from a simple invitation from someone on Edmodo and a result of reading Curriculum 21 by Heidi Hayes Jacobs.  Needless to say, her book causes me to think about reform, the title of this blog, as innovation through high quality practice and collaboration.

As a teacher I am solitary sticking to my own routines, thoughts, preferences, pedagogy, practice and logic.  What I do is a direct result of my own vision as an educator.  However, as an educator my role is greater than me, my role is national and global as one of thousands of educators who seek to educate children coaching them to be ready for college and the real world so that they may step into new roles as learners taking risks to engage life’s roles contributing to the global good.  How our schools and, as teachers, respond to diverse needs of people depends directly on our ability to adapt to rapidly changing shifts in education.  It is not ours to remain static but it is ours, our heritage, to be dynamic engaging students in the world in which they live outside of the walls of school sharing with them the process of learning to learn pushing limits of what is with what will be so that the innovations we need to survive in a changing world are created by minds that do not know boundaries of thought yet guided by moral aptitude that improves all lives.  This is education.

»How do teachers come together?

Physical and virtual spaces are important to the common goal of education.  Physical spaces give direct psychological, emotional, and philosophical connection all teachers need to communicate their point of view and determine what is the collective good for all students, teachers, and future of education.  Yet, as we all know, we are limited by physical limitations of geography, society, and living demands.  What was once impossible is now readily available through technology.  The physical limitations of time and space are not removed but are altered allowing us to interact via the Internet.  There can be no excuse for educators to have multiple touches and interactions within a district, between districts and abroad.  We learn from each other.

»What might be a new curricular model?

Often I wonder why some children are not further ahead in the curriculum given their aptitude for a particular content area.  Similarly, I wonder why students who are not learning the content are being pushed forward through it, or to another grade level, without demonstrating a high level of understanding.  This is a construct that needs to be deconstructed.  There is no point pushing a student forward or holding a student back based on age and grade.  A grade level, and its corresponding curriculum, should always seek to accelerate or decelerate a student’s progress based on multiple forms of assessment.  Decisions pursuing this form always put the learner first leaving little error as to whether or not learning is enriched or further supported.  Grade levels are just a means by which to group similar age peers and should not be viewed as the definitive guide as students progress in learning.  The student who is accelerated in the physical sciences would likely be accelerated in math, but may need more support in language arts.  In this model, students get what they need and not get what they get.  Every teacher, myself included, is guilty of saying they have done everything possible to enrich or support learning for every child.  With so many students in a classroom as a result of budget cuts due to the economy, a teacher simply cannot get to every child as individuals.

This model will force teachers to work together vertically, in teams, from early childhood through the high school years.  In this way teachers are able to be a complete team meeting the needs of the children entrusted to them for thirteen or fourteen years.  Conferences are not by grade level but need with a team of teachers who know the child at the beginning of school to the end.  Teachers are able to communicate among each other drawing on each other’s strengths and views to help the student at every turn.

»How do educators upgrade their practice?

I want to upgrade my computer so I go to the store and purchase the component I need.  Be it RAM, a new hard drive, or monitor, I first have to be aware a replacement is needed and aware that what I am using is degraded or deprecated.  Being aware my practice is not up to par is my responsibility, and the only way to know if I need an upgrade is to talk and watch others teach.  No one teacher has every conceivable skill to meet the learning need of every child but can grow in the ability to improve their practice.  Social networks are important here.  Such networks allow teachers to meet, ask questions, gain insight and shift in practice and pedagogy.  Teachers talking teaching allows us to improve what we do and how we do it.

We must have an urgency to meet the needs of every student by communicating, collaborating, and improving our practice.