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.

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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