Why PBL?

All this talk about Project-based Learning (PBL) got us thinking . . . Why pursue inquiry-based instruction if students might learn less content than when taught in a conventional way?

We contend that any content that students address is readily available with any internet search engine. Any and all content can be “Googled”, thus, it may not have the same urgency of mastery as the element of inquiry-based instruction that teaches the most relevant processing skills for the deep understanding needed for complex problem solving. While the content is often the focus of inspiration, igniting student motivation, and, as stated earlier, an explicit focus on the process skills of inquiry learning must also take center stage, because this model puts the responsibility for learning squarely on students’ shoulders. They must know how to generate, organize, analyze, infer, and draw conclusions well, if they are to become experts in the problem-based learning curriculum of 21st century learning and living.

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The book Everyday Problem-based learning: Quick Projects to Build Problem Solving Fluency focuses on the everyday classroom application of inquiry-based learning and it provides a pathway for teachers to incorporate the essential elements of inquiry-based learning within the parameters of a single class period or an individual lesson.

First, a question for the reader: What is inquiry-based instruction? The term is used throughout the book to refer to any instruction that has the following elements: an essential or a driving question, open-ended solutions, and learning challenges that students encounter as they try to solve complex problems.

Traditional models of instruction assume that students must master content before applying what they’ve learned to solve a problem. Problem- based learning (PBL) reverses that order and assumes that students will master content while solving a meaningful problem. The problem to be solved should be engaging, and at the same time, it should address the curricular issues required by the curriculum.

The problem provides the purpose for learning the content, and the content becomes the vehicle that carries valued life skills. Both content and process are on equal ground as students learn such rigorous skills as thinking, organizing, collaborating, and communicating across various disciplinary areas.

Interested in learning more about Everyday Problem-based learning: Quick Projects to Build Problem Solving Fluency? Give it a go!

Raise Math Scores with Math Fact Fluency

  BlueStreak Math for Fact Fluency

 What You See is What You Get!

BlueStreak Math reigns supreme across the math fact fluency applications. Period. Addition. Subtraction.Multiplication. Division. Equations. English/Spanish. Individual/Multi-player -Competitive/Collaborative Facts/ Games. Administrator/Teacher/Parent/Student Disaggravated Data Records/ Reports.Licensing /All Gr 3-9/ Selected Population/ After School /Middle/Summer/Renewals. Constant and Continual Innovations to BlueStreak Math App part of its DNA. Presentation/ Demonstration/ On line. Tutorial/Training,Help Line.

BLUESTREAK MATH: Transforming digital games of ENTERTAINMENT to digital games of EDUTAINMENT: BlueStreak Math Fact Fluency: See It!  Hear It! Say It! Type It! Solve It! is personalized and adaptive math fact lessons for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, (and equations) using deliberate practice rounds balanced by recovery game rounds.

Deliberate Practice-Extrapolated from Unlocking Student Talent: The New Science of Developing Expertise Practice offers an unusual commentary that actually, and gently, contradicts much of what we know about, motivation, practice and coaching. Practice, as we know it has morphed into a highly engineered skill, not that similar to the skill and drill we have learned and practiced and dreaded over the years. In this emerging picture, practice has specifically described protocols.

BLUESTREAK MATH……Epitomizes the Elements of  Deliberate Practice ProtocolsEricsson and Pool in Peak, 2016.

REPS:Deliberate practice reps are engineered with multiple iterations, finely honed adjustments to produce continued, well-designed and highly personalized progressions.

BLUESTREAK MATHProgrammed with Adaptive Progressions for Math Facts Fluency

RESISTANCE:Resistance and results refer to working at the edge of one’s ability and skill level. It’s about practicing what one does not do well, with extreme concentration and guidance with accurate and actionable feedback.

BLUESTREAK MATH...Ability to Regulate Level / Speed of Facts Practic/Game Round

RESULTS: are necessary and eagerly sought because of the intensity of this kind of deliberate, highly monitored practice, often performed in slow-motion, with attention on the form and the function to detect whether or not the intended results are evidenced.

BLUESTREAK MATH...Immediate Results with Scoring Facts & Games with Digital Records

RECOVERYRecovery, instead of “more is better,” is the protocol in deliberate practice. The intensity that accompanies carefully engineered iterations must be followed with a recovery period. While the practices are deliberately brief, the recovery benefits are needed.

BLUESTREAK MATH...Intense, Personalized Fact Practice , then, Recovery with Adaptive Digital Games

RESIDUAL:Residuals are the mental models that develop in the brain as the myelin continually wraps around the axon of the neurons, creating a “superhighway” of strength and speed for automaticity. That’s how the learner continues to find the “math fact” in the blink of an eye.

BLUESTREAK MATHMyelin Neurological Development with Use, adaptive Iterations, Strengthened with Time

REACH & REPEAT:  The practice of “deliberate practice”, personally programed and constantly monitored, embraces this effective routine called “reach and repeat”. The stretching, reaching, and effort is to surpass the previous record, determined to “create a personal best” attitude with each attempt.

BLUESTREAK MATHReach & Repeat for next level, compelling in digital gaming format.

BlueStreak Math: Math Fact Fluency (Its all about digital practice with deliberate practice protocols.

 RFA PD Personalized Learning: Voice, Choice Challenge  800.213.9246  Brian 312.203.5919 cell
Book: Unlocking Student Talent: The New Science of Developing Expertise- (It’s All about Deliberate Practice Protocols)-    Fogarty, Kerns, Pete. 2018

 

Preparing Students for the Test of Life B Pete and R Fogarty

 

PBL-Problem-Based Learning is more than just projects. PBL experiences are standards-based, with rigorous thinking skills, and rich literacy skills threaded through the models allowing student learning to reaches far beyond the classroom experience and into real world applications.

Grounded in the work of David Perkins at Harvard’s Project Zero, the concepts of Making Learning Whole(Perkin’s, 2014), each PBL experience presents a complete PBL cycle, just as problem solving in life runs the course from questioning, analyzing, synthesizing, generating alternatives and selecting the best option. In addition, true PBL work involves that good ole, highly touted, trait called American ingenuity. At the same time, PBL life lessons tap into that very nature of the enterprising entrepreneur, again often attributed, rightly or wrongly to Americans.

The centerpiece of inquiry learning includes a mosaic of adventures: exploration, investigation, experimentation, and evidence-based learning. Yet, when coupled with talent, ignited by motivation, skillful with deliberate practices and guided with master coaching, the process (Colye, 2009) lays the groundwork for building necessary expertise as self-initiating, self-directed and self-assessing young leaders. In brief, PBL naturally, manifests itself in authentic, real world learnings that serve our youngsters well as they prepare, not just for “the” test, but rather for a far richer set of outcomes. Students grappling with genuine PBL inquiries are, in essence, preparing for the test of life.

Google Hires

According to Google Hires, (Friedman, 2014), there is an evolving set of intangibles that are rising in the profiles of “most desired employees”. And these are the very same values that drive student learning in PBL classrooms. Included in this listing, are skills that resemble the former skills of authentic leadership, peer collaboration, productive problem-solving and sound decision-making, yet the tone and tenor of these “Google Hire” skills take on a subtle, but substantive collage of behavioral capabilities.

Along with enormous office spaces, often in renovated industrial spaces, seldom separated by high or low dividers, featuring ping pong tables, pool tables, kitchen facilities and wrap around couches, the emergent 21stCentury work space is not the only dramatic changes on the scene. The qualities of top candidates have been remodeled too. Among the attributes that stand out are five behaviors that seem to define the kind of young people selected for the team.

 To best describe these five desired dispositions, character traits or habits of mind, the concepts of spontaneouslystepping up,or stepping in, stepping in the middle of, or stepping asideor even, stepping it upare subsets of desired behaviors evidenced as the new qualifiers for the top candidates for the millennial workplaces today.

Step Up to the Plate (Emergent Leadership)

Rather than simply seeking the perennial class President, the emergent leader, the surprising rising star, that top firms are noticing, are the kids in PBL scenarios, who step upto the plate when there is an obvious need for someone to take charge. They intuitively know when a leader is needed to keep things moving along. They may be the ones who get the necessary supplies, or ask permission for the group to move locations beyond the eyes and ears of the authority figure, as they proceed with their plan. They are risk-takers, problem-solvers and congenial human beings who have that knack or charisma to push the envelope and take the lead.

Step In and Do What Needs to Be Done  (General Cognitive Ability)

It’s no longer the brightest student or highest achiever coveted for the top jobs, but rather the pragmatic peer who can synthesize disparate bits of information and make perfect sense of it in the heat of the action. These individuals spontaneously step inwhen they have a sense of the solution or the key to puzzling circumstances. They are in it, lock, stock and barrel and will go to great ends to make things happen in order to reach that end goal. These are the “doers” who take full and responsibility of the situation and the team can be sure that the one that magnanimously steps in, will not stop until it is done. These team members are selfless and really have the greater good of the group in mind.

Step Into the Middle as an Early Adapter (Sense of Ownership)

Conventional wisdom honors the ones who take full ownership of the problem at hand. In fact, this is one of the traits teachers often look for as students take on more and more responsibility in the PBL classroom inquiries. This is the person who is an early adaptor, jumps in full on from the beginning, and owns the problem. This person exhibits this personal investment and a sense of obligation to see the thing through to fruition. This kind of commitment can be learned. In fact this is a monumental skill developed with ongoing PBL scenarios. Students genuinely adopt the viewpoint of their stakeholder role, and there is no end to the effort, ingenuity and creative problem solving they will do to represent that particular point of view. Owning the problem is how students wrap themselves in true responsibility and do whatever it takes to make things happen in the most beneficial ways possible from their accepted perspective.

Step Aside and Honor the Talents of Others (Intellectual Humility)

The one who can step aside, who has the intellectual humility to realize he does not have all or the only answer to a problem, is a rare breed. Even the kids in the early grades have total tunnel vision when they contribute a word to the Word Wall. They want to see THEIR word and they don’t especially care about anyone else’s word. Yet, in PBL situations, the ability to honor others’ opinions and ideas, to see that each member as a valued, contributing member. These members understand that the mix of talents and abilities serve the means to an end. Projects often will exceed all expectations for creative innovation-fluency, flexibility, elaboration and uniqueness as each member of the team contributes her talents to that final effort.

Step It Up with a Natural Curiosity to want to Know (Innately Curious)

Curiosity is the natural born gift of our youngest members of society. They wonder why, ask about how, think about when and what and where. Their questions are endless, and deep, with complexity inherent in the real and full answer. But that is not what they need at that point in time. Yet, if we must somehow learn to foster, to cultivate to tend to the curious notions that pepper the day, if we are to instill that curiosity as a positive and desired trait to develop and grow. Those who possess no curiosity or have somehow learned to bury it deep inside their quest for good grades and compliance, are missing the “oomph” that generates ingenious enterprises from these original thinkers; these “screenage” developers of the latest and greatest apps; the inventors, writers, comedians and technicians with their constant flow of surprises that cause chaos and comedic moments, as well as groundbreaking applications that change our world daily. Curiosity is not the bother we sometimes relegate it as, but definitely, a highly desired trait. We must find ways to appreciate, coach and foster that trait; keep it well, alive and thriving. It’s our future and PBL plays a huge role in preserving this wonderful element of the intellect.

Stepping into the future requires these remarkable young minds, that standout not for their ability to conform and comply, but for their abilities to stand out and be different; to know they have something worthwhile to offer in a world of unknown challenges.

 

Resources

Byant, A. (June 19, 2013) Corner Office: Laszlo Bock In Head-Hunting, Big Data May Not Be Such a Big Deal. New York Times

Coyle, D. (2009).The Talent Code: Greatness is Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. New York: Bantom Dell: A Division of Books Random House

Friedman, T. (February. 22, 2014). How to Get a Job at Google Hint: Getting hired is not about your G.P.A. It’s about what you can do and what you know.

Perkins, D. (2009) Teaching for Wholeness

The Gift of Metacognition

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In Press-Released in June 2018 robinfogarty.com

Dear COLLEAGUES

We have a gift for your teachers that has value

far beyond the session with us. It is the gift that

keeps on giving; that prepares students for the test of life.

There is no gift as precious as the gift of metacognition.

Test of Life PD Description

Teaching kids…to think about their think, to learn about

their learning,  and learn how to understand how they

can solve their own problems.

 

In short, give teachers the greatest gift of all;

the gift of knowing what to do, when they don’t know what to do.

At RFAteachPD, we are experts on the thinking-side of schooling,

not so much on the right answer-side of getting by.

 

Invite us to spend professional learning time with your teachers, and

the tone, tenor and temperament of classroom instruction will take

a turn. Students become engaged and empowered bout their own learning,

through the reflective thinking.

 

Metacognition is beyond the cognitive. It allows students to step back

and think about what they are going, how it’s going and what to do next.

Yes, this day of classroom reflections with your teachers…taps into

the neglected skill of reflection, mindfulness for student success.

 

Thinking about thinking is the magic of the message we share,

along with the strategies that ring true as students develop a sense of

self agency…as they learn how to manage their learning and start using the

quick-win strategies to rigorously think through their own challenges.

 

About the book: Metacognition: The Neglected Skill Set for Empowering Students

How do we prepare youngsters for the test of life? We teach them how to learn when they are not being taught. In other words, we give them the gift of self-reflection, self-awareness, self-initiative, self-direction, self-assessment and self-regulation . . . as well as the gift of knowing when they know and when they don’t know.

Teachers Love the 30 Ready-to-use Strategies

Written with the teachers in mind. It is by far, more practical than theoretical, but most definitely grounded in research findings and connected to emergent data. With the 30 ready-to-use strategies in this book, teachers are introduced to or reminded of,  the metacognitive strategies that deepen learning through explicit reflection for student planning, monitoring and evaluating their work.

Students Love the Magic of Metacognition

At the same time, as students learn how to “think about their own thinking,” they become more aware and thus, better able to make the needed adjustments on their own. They gain a sense of ownership and teachers get the results they count on through student empowerment. Metacognition is like magic for 21st Century classrooms. It changes student behaviors before your eyes and enhances their journey for success.

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The Two-Way Flow of Feedback

 The Two-Way Flow of Feedback

Brian M. Pete and Robin Fogarty, PhD

One of the most effective strategies to engage students in their own learning is modeling metacognition. This “thinking about one’s thinking” uncovers personalized feedback to the student. By modeling reflections on students’ work, students soon learn that their own reflective adjustments are what matters most as they grow and progress in their awareness of their own learning. They soon learn to use self-feedback techniques to scrutinize their own work.

In the process of becoming more reflective about their learning, students also understand that feedback isn’t about what’s wrong—it’s about what’s next.  With that in mind, there are many facets that guide the feedback flow for metacognitive reflection for appraising and improving student work.

TWO-WAY FEEDBACK FLOW

Engaging students with feedback begins with teacher observations about what occurs in the teaching and learning process. That said, to know that the feedback flow actually is a two-way flow is significant. Stiggins, 2009; Wiliam, 2011, and Fogarty & Kerns, 2009, write richly about instructional opportunities to optimize feedback from students. They encourage teachers to pay close attention to the endless flow of student work samples, dialogues, peer conversations, homework, and routine instructional tasks. These constitute genuine feedback, cues, and clues about students’ learning. Truly, the observant teacher can glean much relevant data from students, as evidence of their learning.

The other notable way that feedback flows, of course, is the flow of finely-crafted teacher comments, hints, and suggestions to the students (Hatti, 2003; Hattie, & Templay, 2007).  Carefully providing feedback that is immediate, specific, relevant, and actionable is intended to move the students along. Yet, what seems most pertinent in this discussion is that the feedback comes from students to teachers and to students from teachers. This is that continuous, two-way back and forth between students and teachers and it’s how the magic of independent learning happens. It’s how the learning journey toward improvement and perfection is orchestrated in effective instructional scenarios. It’s how a sense of student agency develops.

HOW DO WE GET FEEDBACK FROM STUDENTS?

Feedback from students embraces the power and productivity of formative assessments during the course of normal instruction, and allows for endless customizations to student learning. With routine, everyday feedback information gleaned from those deliberate, common learning tasks (work samples, class participation, and specific signaling strategies) that occur throughout the day, teachers can make decisions that truly personalize learning.

In fact, as teachers become aware of the power of optimizing student feedback, they realize that opportunities abound for insightful, metacognitive reflection as students interact in dialogues, small group conversations, and whole group discussions. Finally, there is evidence of rigorous feedback from kids as their thoughts are revealed in deliberate strategies including talk-alouds, problem-solving, and item analysis work-throughs.

HOW DO WE GIVE FEEDBACK TO STUDENTS?

Feedback explicitly flowing to students before, during, or following a learning session or work time, is determined most frequently, by the teacher. Yet peer feedback, partner back-and-forths, and even trios with a reflective observer in the group often can provide viable and useful coaching tips, hints, and clarifications to allow that student to continue on his way. As a result, students can be more effective and can develop a surefootedness, boosted by that emerging self-confidence.

This feedback to students is best done in a coaching way, not in a correcting way. That’s how students become empowered in their own right to take responsibility for correcting their work. Feedback informs and gives students control over their own learning.

FORMATIVE FEEDBACK IN PRACTICE

Five strategies from a treasure trove of known and unknown, yet-to-be-invented feedback tactics illustrate how feedback in theory is transformed into feedback in practice. These examples can be woven into routine classroom interactions and are easily tweaked for elementary, middle, and secondary classes.

1. Stoplight Signals: Signal, Respond, Act

Signaling feedback automatically demands actions! You can use green, yellow, and red cards with students to signal you when they may need more help:

  • Show Green: “I’m moving right-along”
  • Show Yellow: “I have a question.”
  • Show Red: “How can I get unstuck? Here’s my thinking…”

2. Easy as 1,2,3!  Revisit, Question, Illuminate.

Student feedback on work samples exposes clarity and confusion. Have students reflect on their processes: “In 3 steps this is what I did: 1, 2, 3! Now, What?”

3. That’s Good Idea! Recognize, Acknowledge, Coach

Use specific feedback to guide students’ work:That’s a good idea because you use a clear graphic that shows you the big picture.”

4. Best Case, Worst Case: Whole Class, Small Group, Individuals

Feedback builds confidence! Have students reflect on their “glows” and “grows”:

“My best case is when I write from an outline; my worst case is when I don’t finish.”

5. Name, Scheme, Rank! Instruct, Improvise, Improve

Teacher feedback enhances performance achievement.

Ask yourself, and name what has worked in the past? Scheme. Ask a friend what s/he has used before? Scheme again. Ask one more person for input. Then rank the three ideas and move on.

Over-time, teachers can “feed” feedback strategies to students to ensure that metacognitive reflection becomes a part of the teaching and learning process. This attention to metacognition and customary, personalized, reflective thinking may well mark the subtle, yet, measureable distance between effective and highly effective teachers.

IN CLOSING

The strategies themselves are the practical tools for infusing personal, relevant feedback to teachers and to students. The essence of feedback as a verifiable and reliable strategy in the k12 classroom is more about the actual, student to teacher and teacher to student interactions. Staying connected, interested, and involved in student/teacher ongoing efforts allows critical information to be shared.

In sum, teachers capturing and responding to feedback from students optimizes cues and clues about student learning, while feedback to the student, based on the teacher’s informed observations, inferences, and decisions, maximizes learning for the students. This continuous flow of feedback information on our two-street fosters personalized learning models.


Resources:

The Economist: What Works at What Cost? Effectiveness and Cost of Education Strategies. EEF EducEndowFound. (June 9, 2016;  Feb 8, 2018).

https://twitter.com/educendowfoundn/status/740932375572516867?lang=en

Fogarty, R. and G. Kerns. (2009). InFormative Assessment: When it’s Not About a Grade.  Thousands oaks, CA: Corwin Press

Hattie, J.  Teachers Make the Difference: What’s the Research Evidence? Distinguishing Novice from Experienced Teachers. University of Auckland
Australian Council for Educational Research, October 2003.

Hattie, J and Temperley, H. 2007. The Power of Feedback. Volume: 77 issue: 1, page(s): 81-112. Issue published: March 1, 2007

https://doi.org/10.3102/003465430298487

Jackson, R. (2017). The Anatomy of Good Feedback. Mindsteps, Inc.

https://mindstepsinc.com/2017/09/anatomy-good-feedback-conversation/

Kerns, G. .2018. Personalized Learning: White Paper. WI : Renaissance Learning.

Wiliam, D. 2009. Embedded Formative Assessments. Melbourne, AU: Hawker Brownlow Education.

 

Becoming Edupreneurs in 21st Century Schools

Edupreneurs are risk-takers, lifelong learners, and recruiters

Becoming Edupreneurs in 21st Century Schools

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” —Charles Darwin

Becoming an edupreneur requires the dusting off of three dispositions of our younger selves. These are three postures that made many of us fearless warriors in the education arena, taking on every challenge we faced with energy, enthusiasm, and most of all, eagerness.

We owe this gift of an edupreneur’s approach to our remarkably able student body, who are trying hard not to—but most definitely are—leaving us behind. They move along at lightning speed in every aspect of their notable generation. They know how to connect, like no other generation, with the tech tools and a deepened sense of humanity at their disposal. They prefer collegial endeavors, inventing the concept of collaborative teaming up with inventive ideas that spread like wildfire: the flash mob, the massive march on Washington, instant trends with amazing apps developed by ten-year-olds. Yet they balance schedules packed with organized events with their own space—downtime, peer time, and self-only time—and still manage to maintain respectable academic records.

So, in spite of lame rumors to the contrary about millennials, the young people of this generation are rocking their world with innovations launched daily, record-breaking athletic feats in every possible arena, ambassadorships throughout the world, and taking on the roles of troubleshooting activists already advocating for a better, safer, more human society.

In a complementary role, we, as education leaders can fully embrace and adopt the role of edupreneurs. Curious what that might look like? A lingering vision of the edupreneur that emerges embraces three mega-dispositions of risk-taker, lifelong learner, and persevering recruiter, inspired from earlier years as educator extraordinaire. Clustered within the three habits of mind that capture the essence of the modern teacher are descriptors by Reid Wilson (2014). From his visionary list of behavioral dispositions for the modern teacher, he cautions, “21st century teachers are not experts in technology, they are experts in habits of mind.”

Based on Wilson’s perceptions, the following discussion is enhanced with additional insights to illuminate the depth of these predictive observations. For the eager teachers, aspiring leaders, and recruiting educators, the ideal hire may require a very different bar of exceptionalism, just as “Google Hires” has discovered (Friedman, 2014) in screening candidates for their company. Their mention of intellectual humility and stepping in or stepping up when needed give a flavor of the kind of soft skills that rise to the call for star hires.

Risk-Takers

The ones able to step outside their comfort zone, the early adopters of change in digital-rich classrooms, conference spaces, presentation halls, and outside of the brick-and-mortar school will be in demand. Embracing change, not as simple as it sounds, is a key trait we must cultivate in a modern school culture. Look for the ones who welcome that newly assigned classroom, even though it’s small, or dig in earnestly to the adaptable curriculum, invite the incoming principal into their room, welcome the constant stream of new instructional software, and make time for that new kid who shows up five weeks into the term. Look for those who model an active curiosity, questioning everything and offering their own devised answers. Remember, “Kids are born as question marks and leave school periods,” according to Neil Postman (1969). How do we retool our values of conformity and compliance and honor the risk-takers willing and able to upset the apple cart? Are we ready for this kind of sweeping change?

Lifelong Learners

Knowing those genuine learners, celebrating their code of honor as lifelong learners, this habit of mind is authentic and somewhat rarer than one might think. Revisiting Toffler’s prophetic statement, “The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn” (1970) seems particularly relevant.

Thinking about Wilson’s (2014) list of traits of the modern learner, they often actually run toward their area of weakness, not away from it. They show up as the techno-wannabe, the novice volunteer for the spring competition day—and, best of all, they are not afraid to ask for help. They believe they can learn anything, when they adopt the right attitude and put in the needed effort. Lifelong learners see themselves as co-learners in the classroom, and they move easily into their students’ world, even if it’s foreign territory.

In fact, these dedicated learners, as modern teachers, see life as their classroom and learn along with the kids, as well as learning from the students who are experts in an area, when the teacher admittedly is not. This lifelong learner does not shy away from the new, the unknown, and the yet to be fully developed. They jump in and take it from where it is and where they are, and somehow find ways to tackle the mysteries and move confidently forward. These are the dauntless learners who enjoy the journey as much or more that the destination, presenting a picture of the learner, not just seeking the right answer and calling it done, but sincerely enjoying the serendipities of the learning experience.

Persevering Recruiters

Perhaps the least recognizable trait of the modern teacher is the one of the persevering recruiter, comfortable not knowing what’s going to happen, choosing to be vulnerable, and modeling the principle that failure is okay. These persevering recruiters dream big and ask “Why not?”

They are unwavering advocates and do not wait till they’re experts to introduce something; they just do it, modeling an envied resiliency and persistence that is admirable. Wilson’s prediction (2014) about modern-day teachers alludes to an innate level of salesmanship that exudes confidence with their strength and belief in what they are doing. Persevering recruiters take risks as pioneers and early adopters, yet they feel secure asking for help from colleagues and are continually persuading others to come on board. They understand the hard work required to develop expertise and the stubbornness needed to keep going when the challenge is hard.

In Closing

When people are not afraid of failing, they are free to take risks, assume the stance of lifelong learners, and persevere in recruiting others into the realm of becoming a modern forward-thinking educator. As we feel the sense of urgency to think about teaching in a radically transforming way, in this radically transforming world, it will serve us well to embrace the skills and most of all the spirit of these proactive, productive, and philosophically daring habits of mind. This is how one discovers the power the modern teacher has to empower students to new and perhaps unforeseen heights.

 

References:

Byant, A. June 19, 2013. New York Times. “Adapted for this exercise… Corner Office: Laszlo Bock.” In Head-Hunting, Big Data May Not Be Such a Big Deal.

Friedman, T. February 22, 2014. “How to Get a Job at Google. Hint: Getting hired is not about your G.P.A. It’s about what you can do and what you know.”

Postman, N. and C. Weingardner. 1969. Teaching as a Subversive Activity. New York: Penguin Education.

Toffler, A. 1977. Future Shock.

Side Note: (2009) To Quote, Unquote and Re-Quote. “You’d be forgiven to think it’s ‘his’ book when in fact it is the compilation of many future-thinkers, edited by Rowan Gibson in 1997.”

Wilson, R. (2014) “Wayfaring Path: Profiles of a Modern Teacher.” https://twitter.com/wayfaringpath/status/521996611719688192?lang=en.

Why I Loved Co-Teaching

RFAPDProposalCoTeachingCartoonCoTeaching

– By Robin Fogarty

Why did I love co-teaching? It’s simple and it’s complicated. It’s simple, because when I look back, I know in my heart, it was the best teaching I ever did. It was complicated because we learned constantly, coached each other continually and reflected every single day. We also celebrated successes with the students who were always at the center of our decision-making.

Our circumstances were unusual as we had a multiage classroom of 8-12 year olds, in a double room with a flexible, folding wall and two teachers of different backgrounds and teaching experiences, in different grade levels. We taught all subject areas, encouraged families and siblings to enroll, and invited parents to volunteer in whatever ways they could. So, yes, it is simple to say I loved co-teaching. But, I’m definitely not saying it was easy to pull off. It was not easy for either of us, or for the students, who at times, looked like deer in the headlights.

Even though we had planned and planned and planned…we revisited, reorganized and rearranged, reviewed and retreated any number of times, yet, what we realized was, no, it was not easy, but it was surely worth every ounce of knowledge and knowhow we were learning. At the end of the day, we knew our students had experienced valuable lessons of learning and of life in an environment rich with content, relevant with the varied groupings we used, and rigorous with the mindfulness required.

What Exactly Did I Love About Co-teaching?

More specifically, here are some of the reasons I love co-teaching as a viable and proven model to support our students in their inherently personal learning journeys. These were the attributes of that dynamic model of teachers teaming to provide the best of the best for our students.

I loved the collegial partnership, the reflective culture, instructional flexibility, the necessity for creativity, the natural collaborative environment, the range of academic content and the life lessons of tolerance, leadership and kindness for all.

Collegial Partnership:

Two heads ARE better than one. Four hands are better than two. It’s called synergy. One leads, one facilitates; both lead, both facilitate parallel groups; one facilitates small groups, one coaches one on one; both conduct individual reading conferences or math check-ins; one works in the room, one in computer lab or library. The partnership affords creative uses of both professional with equal footing for both.

Culture of Reflection:

The reflective moments at the beginning and end of the day are invaluable as professional growth experiences. So much is voiced and considered explicitly that seldom happens when working as the sole teacher in the room. Just the ongoing comments, questions and concerns throughout the day are teachable moments for both.

Instructional Flexibility/ Spiraling Curriculum

  • Individuals

Reading and math seem to work best with individualized, data-driven materials, specifically designed resources, varied methods, and student/teacher conferences, to monitor progress and stay intently connected to the student and his well-being.

  • Small Group

Of course this model is punctuated by small group interactions for typical skill development in vocabulary, higher order thinking skills for comprehension strategies and deeper understanding. These groups are flexible and constantly changing as the talents  and needs are determined.

  • Whole Group

Flexibility means using the whole class model, particularly in social studies, health and science that have spiraling curricula and also often may warrant class field trips, presentations and performances. Writing exercises, art projects, science experiments provide opportunity to move through all three constructs- individual, team and whole class with both teachers intently involved in the planned lessons.

Creative Innovation

Creative innovation is a given when the structures change in fundamental ways. With co-teaching both students and teachers are acutely aware that this is different than one teacher, one class. They are a little anxious, but the students are also eager to see how the day changes. The human brain loves novelty, it’s how teachers get focused attention from the kids. This co-teaching strategy offers the perfect setting and resources for inventive collaborations as the various advantages emerge with each new development. Learn to enjoy the freedoms it offers for good solid teaching and learning and don’t fret too much about the restrictions you might feel.

Habits of Mind:

Perhaps the most powerful outcome of the co-teaching process, and it is ultimately a rewarding process, are the life lessons that evolve as the teacher/student interactions become more complicated, versatile and changing. From these novel circumstances, student attitudes, dispositions and habits of mind seem to percolate. They learn tolerance for others as teachers model collaboration and student groupings constantly change; they learn leadership skills, as teachers model shifting roles and students start stepping up or stepping in as needed to help out, and most of all, the entire experience somehow speaks to kindness and caring for all involved. Why? I’m not sure, but that’s what I always saw happen in my team-teaching experiences.

In Closing

What I know is this. You too will learn to love co-teaching as you have time together to talk candidly about your greatest fears, and your highest expectations. Your team develops as you begin to look at models of co-teaching and configurations that work for your class and as you get down to the nitty-gritty of what you each will actually be doing. And the trust evolves, as you both learn more about your strengths and weaknesses as earnest partners designing the teaching and learning for YOUR class. Enjoy the learning adventure!