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

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Relevant learning experiences

I just had a conversation with a teacher in which the fundamental question that has to be asked and answered is:  How do students engage in relevant learning experiences?  We already know the answer.

Compulsory learning does nothing for the student.  In fact, it demeans the entire goal of learning and the intrinsic motivation to do so.  Going through my preservice teaching classes, much discussion revolved around intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation to learn.  Extrinsic, from my point of view, learning is achieved when I give a student a reward – candy, bookmark, computer time.  Intrinsic motivation is learning because the student is compelled to do so.  To compel a student to learn means the learning experience is not contrived.

Contrived learning is the lesson plan that structures every step of what to learn and how to learn it.  The teacher, knowing the easy path is giving the student everything they need to learn, writes down the steps to be followed.  Students know they are not really learning.  As I frequently reiterate to myself, learning is messy.  At times there is a straight forward process to learning though, more often than not, there is no process, no steps to follow, and certainly no plan.

Real world learning is the only way we will get students to remain engaged but this means a shift in teaching.  The shift is from teacher centered to student centered.  Many claim to be student centered in planning, teaching, and assessing, but the reality is that we, as teachers, do what is easiest.  It is easy to lecture, use the teacher manual, use online textbook resources, and download content.  However, we already know that the degree to which the content is learned is much deeper than traditional teaching models.  The same mantra is repeated in spite of this and that is there is too much content to cover and little time to teach all of it.  We cannot call downloading of content teaching.  We can call it a speech with information but no student is really engaged as a teacher speaks to class for an entire period.  Teaching would involve inquiry by asking important questions to solve real life problems today, and not just creating the presentation that show regurgitated content.

We already know the answer to high quality teaching, it is transforming ourselves to do it.

Frustration of innovation

tranquil

photo by Mirari Erdoiza

I have been thinking a great deal about the future of education:  how teachers will adapt, new pedagogies, brick and mortar vs. virtual, and new technologies.  It is a frustrating experience because I find myself on the verge of knowing what it should be but not being able to put it all together.  I also began a Google + community called InnovateEdu as a forum to get my thoughts out into the education community and get other’s ideas to innovate the practice of education.

Over the past two weeks I learned something about being an innovator.  I learned that I can be an innovator, generate new ideas, look at old problems and find new solutions but what I can’t do is make the change by myself.  This is the part of education we, as the global community of educators, fail to realize.  This isn’t about me being closed off and secluded., but it IS about a collection of people with the same goal in mind working together to achieve a larger goal.  The goal is to innovate education or transform it.
Transforming education is easier said than done, a simple truth.  The issue isn’t that educators don’t know what is wrong. The issue is that we are separated by the walls of individualization and the what is mine is mine attitude.  So, we end up with “I will do what I do” never creating a systemic change that is needed.  Politicians and government have hijacked education because of the United States low test ranking in the world.  Suddenly there is something so wrong with how kids learn that people who have no business making education policy and decisions are doing so.  Sadly there is little to be done about this because the politicians, though we many contact them, continue to do as they choose.  The real issue is that the U.S. is no longer #1 in the world and we have a hard time dealing with that.  To transform education means there needs to be a greater collective of cojoined voices creating a seamless plan while getting poor decision maker and leaders out of the way.

What questions do we need to be asking to innovate education?