Friday, February 28, 2014

The Move to Deeper Learning/Teaching

The move to deeper learning is a time consuming move. It's a move that includes change with regard to the details of teaching--the details related to lesson planning, daily teaching routines, student response and feedback, and collegial collaboration.

Specifically, and to date, that move includes these actions:
  • Daily attention to the "learning list" including vocabulary, learning objectives, learning dispositions/mindsets.
  • Explicit attention to the learning objectives.
  • Well choreographed lessons that include lots of vibrant, active, rich, collaborative learning experiences--the kind of learning experiences students want to continue on their own time in their own ways.
  • Attention to current research, process, tools, and strategies--keeping up to date on the changing landscape of teaching/learning.
I believe that this move has accelerated due to the fact that children are able to learn so much more with depth at this time due to the amazing access we have to information and learning tools/materials, access that is accelerating what children can learn and produce at young ages.

Yet, the acceleration also demands that we are more cognizant of developmentally appropriate tools, strategies, and process since children also have access to learning that is not a good fit for best learning. Hence, we have to curate with care, collaboration, and eye on the future with regard to how do we best prepare children for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a world we cannot even imagine.

The challenges we face as educators today are exciting because the potential for better learning for all students is great.  To meet these challenges well we need different kinds of supports from the greater learning community.

First, leadership needs to recognize and support this time consuming changing educational landscape by providing additional collegial and individual professional learning and design time. There's too much to know related to teaching well to do all that with a 45-minute prep each day and limited collaborative time.  There are creative ways to build in additional research, planning, design, and response time by re-looking at the way time is spent in a buildings, the way that educators are assigned, and the priorities for an optimal education today. We have to look more deeply at the role of collaboration, and the way schools are managed--Pink's theme of "autonomy, mastery, and purpose" in Drive is a better management philosophy than the top-down, factory models at play in some schools.  We also have to look at how decisions are made and the ways issues, ideas, and news are communicated--essential areas for revision in most schools, revision that will lead to better teaching/learning.

There's lots to think about with regard to the evolution of schools and learning today, and embracing these challenges with an open mind and sense of positivity will lead us forward in positive ways that benefit children.

From my own vantage point, it's all about the details today. The details related to the classroom routine, learning list, lessons, feedback, response, and care. Have I come full circle to return to the place where I started this journey?  No, I believe it's been a spiral; one that's pushed me ahead so that now I'm returning to the "nest" of the classroom with new knowledge, skill, and purpose--a greater ability and deeper challenge when it comes to teaching children well.