PLCs push problem solving

I just finished participating in my first #OHedchat on the topic of PLC’s. For some time I have been concerned with the direction PLC’s are taking in my building wondering if the tact being taken is the right one. Having read the thoughts of others in the chat it’s pretty clear the way we are headed is the wrong one.

I am not an expert on Professional Learning Communities but firmly believe that they exist for educators to come together to learn about topics important to us and solve building problems.  If teachers come together for a meeting placed on a calendar then it is just that, a meeting and meetings do not share the same characteristic function as does a PLC.  PLC’s are meant to allow free exploration of education topics key to the practice and transformation of teachers. PLC’s allow choice as the method by which to learn vs. being told what to learn.

PLC’s embody Learnership.  Learnership is the idea that educators at any level combine leadership, pedagogy and technology in a way that leads to deeper learning by the student and teacher.  A PLC is all teachers but they must be willing to participate in the learning process showing each other how to lead learning and be a learner in the process.  If a PLC were a meeting then there is one person who sets the agenda and directs the outcome,  however in Learnership everyone has the opportunity to lead and learn as a learner.

PLC’s are meant to extend and deepen teacher learning on a variety of topics that are not tied to a meeting.  Where I work this is the case and there is little learning going on so teachers are left with an inaccurate idea of a true PLC.

How do PLC’s run in your school or district?

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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

The New Pedagogy – Learnership

In my last post I coined a term called learnership which I don’t believe has been used before but came to me as a way of expressing educational leadership combined with educators needing to show learners how to learn, thus learnership.

“We cannot do things the same way.” was said to me by a veteran teacher who is seeing how technology can change learning. Mind you, this has come after one foray into using the power of the Web to change student productivity and learning. She sees the value of losing old pedagogical schemes in light of new ones but would not have come to this conclusion on her own had I not been there to coach her and learn with her. This gets to a specific point Michael Fullan is making in his book Stratosphere. Education needs expert learners to be expert leaders leading student how to become an expert learner. Educators are to be the experts in both – leading to learn and learning to lead.

The next few years, perhaps five, will prove how well teachers can help their students become and expert learner. The goal is to guide, or shape, how they think about learning so that when a student is faced with a novel learning experience, they know how to go about it vs. floundering about without a direction.

Learnership is the new pedagogy, it is cutting edge. It takes away the need to know everything to become a servant leader – one who shows how to do something alongside the other person. In this case learnership.

What makes learnership the new pedagogy? First, it shifts the role of teacher to role of guide, or facilitator, and as a guide the teacher also learns along the way. No guide I know of knows absolutely everything. I do know that guides point out what to look for. Here I think of walking in a museum where the guide points out the art, the techniques and the style. However, someone accustomed to a particular artist, or period, may know more than the guide. Mutual learning can take place. Learnership requires deeper, current pedagogical knowledge about how students learn. One size does not fit all, and in a coming age of customized learning (thanks to technology), teachers must know how to reach individual students in a myriad of ways. This may be a blended learning model, 1:1, PBL, or other form. What matters is the teacher’s ability to use sound pedagogy concomitant with technology. Finally, leanership is empathy driven. The educator approaches learning from the learner’s perspective as a student centered approach. Empathy puts teachers in the state of mind “I’ve been there before” which helps to facilitate positive learning, learning that excites students to want more.

Learnership puts teachers at the crossroads of pedagogy, technology, inquiry and empathy creating powerful learning experiences.