10 things teachers should unlearn…

10 things I think teachers should unlearn…

1. Teachers know all the answers.

2. Teachers have to be in control of the class.

3. Teachers are responsible for the learning.

4.  Students are obliged to respect teachers.

5.  Learning can be measured by a letter or a number.

6.  Teachers should plan activities and then assessments.

7. Learners need to sit quietly and listen.

8. Technology integration is optional.

9.  Worksheets support learning.

10.  Homework is an essential part of learning.

In my opinion, all of the above are outdated ideas. I won’t elaborate at the moment, as I’d rather have your input! Which ones do you agree with? Disagree? Challenge? Question?


10 ways series…

10 ways to get students to own their learning

10 ways to foster a love of learning

10 ways to create a culture of thinking

10 ways to grow as an educator

10 ways my thinking has changed

10 ways to think about your learning space

10 ways to help students develop a PLN

10 ways to attract readers to your blog

89 thoughts on “10 things teachers should unlearn…

  1. J. R. Radney

    I like your claims for things to unlearn. I have posted some similar ideas at thelearningcoach.blogspot.com I would like your reaction, as well.

    I think some of your claims beg a concessive clause following, such as:
    2. Teachers have to be in control of the class. While this is not true, teachers are responsible for the safety and dignity of those who are in their class. It is not wrong for teachers to advocate certain ways of thinking in class, but their influence must be persuasive rather than intimidating.… or some other such modification, as in:
    4. students are obliged to respect teachers, just as teachers are obliged to respect students. Respect shown warrants respect given.

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    1. whatedsaid Post author

      Teachers do need to be responsible for student safety, yes. And there should be mutual respect, yes. But teachers shouldn’t assume that they can behave in any way they like, put down students,talk down to students, make unreasonable demands … and still get respect in return.

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      1. Tracy Rosen

        I see different assumptions about control here. I feel I must have control of my class in the sense that I do not want bedlam that can lead to a) an unsafe climate and b) little, if any, learning.

        Do not confuse classrooms based on collaboration and exploration as classrooms where the teacher does not have control. It is my responsibility to ensure the safety and the learning of my students. It is control in a different way than the heavy-handed, fear-based control of some in the past but there is still control.

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      2. whatedsaid Post author

        But what about a teacher who isn’t heavy handed etc… but all the discussion goes through her? She always chooses who will speak and when they will speak. She makes the decisions in the classroom…

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      3. kmcg2375

        I like to think about it as a balance between ‘freedom to’ (students have choice and voice) and ‘freedom from’ (students are protected from harm).

        This idea has popped up for me so many times today! I believe the teacher can be in control of the learning environment, while allowing a great deal of autonomy in student learning. When a teacher says ‘here are 5 focus question – now discuss these in a group and report back, you have 15 minutes’, this is NOT ‘student-centred learning’ (i.e. merely by virtue of the fact that the teacher has stopped talking).

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  2. Pingback: JD's School of Thought » Daily Links #4 – 8/23/2010

  3. Kathleen McGeady

    What a terrific list. The one that really jumped out at me was

    8. Technology integration is optional.

    I wish more people could see this and more schools would enforce this. It reminds me of a wonderful article by Karl Fisch that no doubt you have read “Is it okay to be a technologicallly illiterate teacher”

    http://thefischbowl.blogspot.com/2007/09/is-it-okay-to-be-technologically.html

    Another I would add (which I’m writing a blog post about as we speak) would be

    Professional development is not an off-site excursion where you learn from an expert

    Thanks for more wonderful insights!

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    1. Rob Piorkowski

      I believe that technology should be optional, unless the discipline requires it in the professional world. Information technology is distracting our students from learning, not enhancing the learning experience….especially in skill-based learning.

      The computer is a social tool for most students … email, Facebook, etc.

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      1. Mrs Doring

        What vocations are you aware of that do not use technology? My husband has been job-searching for months, and nothing we’ve seen doesn’t require proficiency with MS Office and email applications. Even a house cleaner keeps a schedule and client list on her smart phone and orders supplies online. McDonald’s employees use sophisticated technology to increase efficiency. The pervasiveness of technology in our culture is a reality, as it should be in school. In my kinder class we use technology daily. If I was teaching middle or high school we would use it even more. I would Tweet homework assignments so parents can know what I expect and students have no excuses.

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      2. Mrs Doring

        Technology is a tool, just like the many other tools we have that can be used to help us or to waste our time. I think we should model for our students how to use it responsibly. Give it a try!

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      3. Jason Suter

        Is learning not a social activity? This discussion is taking place on the very type of platform you admit our students are using. Are you not learning anything? There is definitely value here. Technology needs to be incorporated and its use guided. Teachers also need to get past the idea that their school is responsible for all their professional development, especially in the area of technology. Why is it that many educators have the goal of creating self-directed learners, but refuse to become one themselves when asked to incorporate 21 century skills into their curriculum.

        That said, I love the following post on digital immigrants…

        http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2010/09/think-youre-digital-immigrant-get-over.html

        One final thought, when the paper and pencil was introduced into the classroom I wonder if there were teachers that complained it was a distraction because students were passing notes to each other. It is not the technology that is a distraction, but rather the way it is incorporated in most cases. Classroom management maybe, not classroom control? Sorry for being overly passionate about this topic…

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      4. Douglas Whitehouse

        I am not sure tech should be optional but we must remember that although the majority of students have access to tech, not all do. I know that in my classroom, 4-5 students out of 34 do not have access to tech outside of the classroom unless they go to the library. Even though schools are providing students with technology in some cases, once the tech leaves the classroom, the student has to go to McDonalds or another place outside of his home to use the technology because they do not have wireless internet in their homes. We somehow manage to forget these facts of life.

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  4. enpsteacher

    Great, now all I will be thinking about during Teacher Orientation days is how much I wish Yoda was my principal.

    Want to rid your school of disciplinary problems in one swoop? Two words: light saber

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  5. Saba Khan

    soo true!

    i am hooked to the unlearn point “students are obliged to respect teachers” i still cant let it go!

    although i do leave students at a free will in this regard

    thanks , the list surely is amazing!

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    1. whatedsaid Post author

      It might be a cultural point of difference.
      But I think (in my culture and my school setting) that teachers shouldn’t think respect from their students is an automatic thing just because they are teachers. Teachers need to respect students, if they want students to respect them.

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      1. Jackson Bates

        Students should be obliged to respect teachers because they should be obliged to respect everybody. The same goes with teachers, who should respect each other and the pupils they teach.

        But respect doesn’t mean obsequiousness, although some teachers might want it that way!

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      2. enpsteacher

        I strongly agree with whatedsaid when she says, “teachers shouldn’t think respect from their students is an automatic thing just because they are teachers. Teachers need to respect students, if they want students to respect them.”

        This is especially true for America. Even before we were a united country, we never bought into the fact that we should respect people unless they DESERVED it. Thus, a royal tax-collector was tarred and feathered, even though it meant strict reprisals from the Royal Governor. The Royal Governors were mocked openly and petitions were sent to England to remove the unjust ones from their office. And even the King of England himself was written a highly disrespectful (and TREASONOUS) Declaration of Independence. Finally, the first army serving under Gen. George Washington never did a thing their commanding office told them to do until they understood why they were doing it. Thus, it is highly “American” to deny respect to ANYONE being unjust, unfair and unreasonable.

        The comments of Jackson Bates, “Students should be obliged to respect teachers because they should be obliged to respect everybody,” seems more suiting for a homogeneous, conforming society like Japan. Having taught there for 3 years, I have seen that Jackson’s mentality is pervasive there. Every respectable Japanese man, woman and child would agree with him. This is necessary for their way of maintaining social order, and has allowed the Japanese nation to do many great things.

        However, I think using that same kind of mentality in America would make you seem bossy, arrogant or even pompous.

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      3. Jackson Bates

        I see where you are coming from, Enpsteacher, but I think we are working with slightly differing definitions of respect. I simply mean that people should treat one another with respect, as they would themselves expect to be treated, in a fair and even handed way.

        I do not equate respect with automatic approval or subservience, as I stated before. And it certainly doesn’t mean that all kids should “Respect my Authority”, which I agree is rather arrogant, and usually the preserve of the teacher that has no real authority.

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  6. Akevy Greenblatt

    I agree with 95% of the list. I do think respect needs to go both ways and we need to teach students to respect not only teachers but others as well. So while I agree it should be top down but as a collaborative effort it is still important things for students to have.
    I am also not sure what you mean by in control of the class. Yes students should play an active role in creating the class culture etc. I don’t remeber who said it but someone said that you cant just assume students know what the proper thing to do is or how to act and treat others therefore these are teachable moments that the teachers need to direct and in some way ” be in control” I do agree that the students need to be involved and we must have student buy in but I am not sure if I agree that the control of the classroom needs to be unlearned
    Otherwise I loved the list. I may share it at a faculty meeting and get my teachers thoughts
    Akevy

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    1. whatedsaid Post author

      Yes, students should respect teachers, the same as they should respect other fellow human beings. My point is that you don’t earn respect just because you got your degree and qualified as a teacher. And also, there are many teachers who don’t really treat students with respect, so why is it their right to have students treat them with respect?

      I think there are teachers who think they have to ‘be in control’ in the sense that they make all the decisions, decide when students can be hungry, need to use the bathroom, etc. They also like all discussion to be filtered through them. Each person puts up their hand and speaks to/through the teacher. I don’t think that makes for optimal learning!

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  7. Phil Bagge

    1. Teachers knows all the answers.
    Totally agree with you. Teacher can model how to learn if they are one of the learners.

    2. Teachers have to be in control of the class.
    Teachers don’t need to control all that happens in a class. If pupils make meaningful choices their control over their learning is greater leading to greater interaction and satisfaction. Teachers do need to promote a safe place to learn which involves negotiating a class contract.

    3. Teachers are responsible for the learning.
    Ultimately everyone is responsible for their own learning. However society often believes that teachers are responsible for pupils learning. I am interested in what you have to say on this.

    4. Students are obliged to respect teachers.
    Respect is always earnt.

    5. Learning can be measured by a letter or a number.
    Learning happens in so many areas of a humans makeup, spiritual, emotional, character development. These cannot be measured in letters or numbers. Alongside my pupils we decide criteria that describes success in an aspect of learning to see if more learning opportunities need to happen. Tests can be measured in letters or number, sometimes tests can measure progress in a narrowly defined area of learning.

    An interesting list and I haven’t even got on to the later points.

    Thanks for making me think and challenge my ideas.

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    1. NancyEH

      The term “effective teacher” is code for the public/political expectation that teachers are, indeed, directly, personally and professionally responsible for student learning. Under NCLB to start, but Race to the Top for sure, it is very clear that politicians (federal and state), as well as educational gurus of all stripes, believe that all it takes is a teacher who knows how to “engage” students in order for them to learn. Unfortunately, these expectations are impacting the educational climate and driving what passes for educational reform because it’s where the money is.

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  8. Andrew Pickles

    Some provisos first. I am not anti-technology, I love it and use it a lot, including in class. I do not think current educational theory and practice has nothing new to offer, I think it has a lot and has been responsible for some fantastic improvements. But…

    1. Teachers knows all the answers. Agreed, but a good teacher should strive to know the answers, they should never stop learning in order to be able to pass on their knowledge and show sts where and why they should also acquire knowledge.

    2. Teachers have to be in control of the class. Depends on your definition of control, negotiated learning is v. important (one of the improvements I referred to) but fin de jour, the teacher has a responsibility to exercise their responsibility.

    3. Teachers are responsible for the learning. Absolutely they are responsible for the learning, that is practically their sole responsibility – they must create an atmosphere of trust and motivation, provide direction and knowledge and help sts to transfer input to intake – to do otherwise abrogates responsibility. A teacher I admired very much said that if a student succeeds then it is because the student has worked hard, if a student fails it is because the teacher has let them down.

    4. Students are obliged to respect teachers. No argument there but their default position should be one of expectant respect which can then be either reinforced by a good teacher or destroyed by a bad one – no-one is obliged to respect anyone but to often this argument is used to justify automatic disrespect which is equally corrosive.

    5. Learning can be measured by a letter or a number. Absolutely one-hundred percent agree with you here. Too much time is dedicated to testing and thus teaching for testing.

    6. Teachers should plan activities and then assessments. If you mean and nothing else then I agree with you here too.

    7. Learners need to sit quietly and listen. Sometimes they do, it is part of learning, learning not just to pay attention to a teacher/lecturer etc. but also to respect your peers who may be interested or want to listen. I agree that silent sts all the time or even most of the time is weird but sometimes that space to listen to someone more knowledgeable than you is important and a part of mutual respect.

    8. Technology integration is optional. Am torn on this one, I use technology and I like it as do my sts. But as there is so little research to support or attack its use I guess the jury is out. Also I went to school in the 80s and early 90s when technology was pretty limited and we learnt just fine, it is also true to say that the vast majority of the world’s children also go to schools with little or no technology and it would be unfair and I think untrue to say that their learning is worse however poorer their opportunities. I guess technology is an aid to good teaching, but not a substitution or a guarantee.

    9. Worksheets support learning. Again depends on the worksheet but generally I also agree with you here.

    10. Homework is an essential part of learning. Homework for homework’s sake no but those sts who read around a subject and do more than simply turn up to class and expect to receive all they will need their consistently do worse than those sts who do revise, read more and do extra work. Perhaps this is where technology comes in to its own, allowing sts and teachers to continue the conversation outside the classroom without simply having to tick the school board’s homework box!

    A really interesting topic and I hope I haven’t bored you by rambling on too much! I think very much that conversations like this will help us figure out the best way forward. Thank you very much for the opportunity and I really enjoy your blog and tweets!

    All the best

    Andrew Pickles

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    1. Lisa Parisi

      I totally agree with you on #3. I am responsible for my students’ learning. I need to create the atmosphere and do everything possible to help them succeed. They are responsible for being available to learning. Not all are at all times. It is also my job to show them how to be available.

      I speak of this often in my blog. UDL approach makes learning available for all. Teachers are responsible for bringing it into the classroom.

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      1. whatedsaid Post author

        I think teachers are responsible for the TEACHING. Creating an environment conducive to learning is part of teaching. Doing everything possible to help them succeed in their learning is part of teaching. But learners have to take responsibility for their own learning. And it’s our responsibility is to make sure they know they own the learning, not us!

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    2. Orlando Falvo

      I have to say I agree with Andrew. I was going to write an extended response but he beat me to it. I do believe in one truth about teaching and that is we must model the behaviors we hope to see in our students.

      I explain to my students at the beginning of the each year that we are in this journey together.
      What I expect from you(the student) is what you should expect from me.

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  9. Henrietta Miller

    I am so with you on ‘Homework is an essential part of learning’ I work hard to try and make it interesting and relevant. Too many parents want it though for it to disappear from my school. When we surveyed parents last year, the Mothers all thought we gave enough or too much. The Fathers all wanted more! Guess who are around to supervise it? Guess who pays the fees and thinks homework will give their child that special edge!

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  10. Colin Matheson

    I am a constructivist (I believe knowledge is created in the mind of the learner). I agree that many classes are overly structured and dominated by teachers. However, I have recently visited classes with almost no structure and no expectations. The kids were slacking off and rude. So I would have to say that I disagree with number 6. Just because a learner (adult or child) owns and must craft the knowledge in their head, doesn’t mean that the learner is the expert in how to accomplish that transformation (learning). One example of how learner control of activities is a bad idea is the difference between preference and effectiveness. I have read that gifted students prefer structure and yet learn more in open ended environments while struggling students prefer open ended assignments and yet learn more in structured environments.
    I have had quiet lectures and activities (with worksheets, and homework) that were very successful (students learned) . I have had lectures fail (students didn’t learn). I have had noisy, open ended explorations that were very successful. I have had projects fail. Teachers need to constantly ask, “Given the learning objectives, what is the best environment for the learner?”

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  11. Dr. Rasmussen

    Learning should absolutely be measured. How else do you know they’ve learned what you taught?? It’s not the only way, but it’s as important to a teacher as a compass is to a expert hiker.

    No homework means my students wouldn’t practice their music instruments other than lesson day. -Silly! Practice at anything is important. Homework should reinforce skills. TOTALLY OFF on this one.

    Technology can support teaching. Use it. But, I can stack my teaching without tech against anyone’s with tech and have students have more music understanding than many music teachers have. I have proof.

    Most of the others are dead on, or close enough.

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    1. whatedsaid Post author

      Of course we need assessment to inform further teaching and learning! But learning STILL can’t be measured by a letter or a number! (But I won’t call you ‘silly’!)
      Learning music obviously requires practice. I’m a classroom teacher, so that’s my bias. But every point on the list doesn’t apply in every situation, obviously. The aim was to challenge people’s thinking… and I have!
      Integration of tech might apply less in a music class, but in 2010 in almost every (other) learning situation, while it’s perfectly possible to teach and learn without it, it is absolutely not a choice any more. Sorry.

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      1. Dr. Rasmussen

        Oh, I am sorry that you thought I called you silly. I don’t think you’re silly. It was only the idea of no homework that I find silly, and especially with music. Isn’t math worth some practicing? Reading 20 minutes everyday (or almost) is an awesome standing homework assignment. Reading is very worth doing every day. Responding to your list is providing your readers an opportunity to clarify their thoughts. Doesn’t homework help in the same way?

        Learning needs to be measured. You’ve agreed. I’m so glad. Ultimately, any assessment is not perfect. So I agree with you in spirit. Still, numbers (measurement which is objective) are the best way to measure, and letters (evaluation which are subjective) are what we’re stuck with. I don’t know what a B means from your school compared to a B in mine. They’re not standardized. Grades are practically devoid of validity. For example, a “C” from my HS is worth more than the A+ at the city schools I see.

        So, how else do you propose measuring student learning? Numbers are more valuable than most teachers know. Means, standard deviations, percentile ranks, standard scores, reliability, validity. All are the basic ingredients to learning how to better one’s teaching through measurement. Tests ultimately help to improve instruction. Hopefully, they’re useful for children to learn from, not just used for the purpose of handing out grades.

        By the way, there’s a brand new book release on assessment—it’s phenomenal. ALL teachers should look into this, but especially music teachers. It holds the possibility of transforming education if used to improve instruction and better challenge individual differences of our students. We’d be all the better teachers for having read this book. Again, all to improve instruction.

        http://www.giamusic.com/search_details.cfm?title_id=11264

        As I stated earlier, I agree with you in spirit that learning cannot be reduced ONLY to numbers and letters, but to suggest that it cannot be, is misleading to teachers who don’t understand the value of good measurement of student achievement. I don’t understand anyone who teaches only by the seat of their pants, perhaps because they don’t “believe” in tests. Maybe their tests need improvement. Most teachers are not in reality with regard to the achievement and aptitudes of their students. Good measures are the only way to begin the parting of the clouds.

        As you see, I’m strongly opinionated here. I love research, and its value to education is immeasurable. Without measurement, though, research is difficult to do. How many of your readers are doing *research* to improve their instruction?

        I’d be interested in some more responses.

        I love that your post is getting so much response.
        Congratulations on the activity and attention. It shows that there are a lot of caring teachers out there.

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  12. Leanna

    I agree with 95% of the list also, though I think I make a pretty awesome worksheet. :-) Maybe we are thinking of “out of the teacher resource material” canned worksheets? In that case, I agree.

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  13. eugen cantera

    You could have listed #8. “Technology integration is optional.” – 10 times. Those teachers (regardless of the subject you teach) who stick to the status quo do so at their peril. If you happen to be one, it’s gonna be a long year.

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    1. Neil stephenson

      Technology alone won’t change teaching practice. In the last 15 years the Alberta Government has spent $1.5 B on technology for the province. Research has shown this incredible amount of money has brought about very little change in teaching practices. More tech is a simplistic solution that has been shown not to work.

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  14. Paul

    I think it really depends on the content, of course. For instance, I remember learning Japanese…

    First, “Technology integration is optional”? Yes, in this case I believe it is. People have been learning languages for how long? And yes, I have seen language software and have tried Rosetta Stone, among others, but found many to more get in the way, and make it more complicated.

    Lastly, “homework is an essential part of learning”… well, call it “homework” or “study out of class”. Again, in language study, if you do nothing and think you are simply going to absorb 1,000 kanji or vocabulary in a couple of hours of class meetings per week, then good luck to you ;)

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    1. whatedsaid Post author

      I’m a second language teacher. I taught successfully without technology for more than 20 years. Of course it’s possible! It’s also possible to create a fire by rubbing two sticks together, but I would rather turn on the heating because it’s 2010.

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  16. Tonya

    Great list. Technology integration sometimes seems forced. I don’t think EVERY lesson has to be connected to technology. Technology integration should be meaninful and relevant to the lesson. Thanks for the list!

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    1. whatedsaid Post author

      Of course! The learning should ALWAYS be the driver, not the tech. And, like every other tool, it’ll be part of those lessons where it supports the learning, which might not be all. But in the big picture… tech integration is not optional any more.

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  18. Mike

    What teachers are you talking about? Teachers in the US? What about Africa? For example:

    8. Technology integration is optional.

    The idea that technology is mandatory is like saying if you are not using technology you are not teaching well. Most of my students are preparing to go to Africa to work as teachers themselves. One of the main things we have to focus on is how to teach where technology is non existent. To work without electricity, lights, and still make a difference. They teach in places where even chalk for a chalk board is in short supply. Disregarding variety in favor of over general lists seems a bit unrealistic.

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    1. whatedsaid Post author

      I’m not disregarding anything in favour of general lists, I assure you. I often write from the perspective of my own teaching context, which is not surprising since that’s what I know best. But I certainly don’t disregard the fact that much of the world doesn’t have access to education, let alone technology. If you read my blog, you will know that. I assume this is your first visit and that you won’t judge me from a throw-away post, inspired by Yoda and designed to provoke thinking.

      I had a similar experience to this a few months ago, when a reader in Ecuador questioned my notion of what learning looks like and implied that my view was somewhat narrow. This was my response at that time. http://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2010/04/09/thinking-about-learning-still/

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  19. Andrew Pickles

    Hi,

    I wanted to pick up on something you said

    “I’m a second language teacher. I taught successfully without technology for more than 20 years.”

    and would like to know, quite genuinely, if you have seen an improvement in your sts language skills/learning as a result of technology integration? If so why do you think that is? Because of the technology itself or because it mirrors the sts life outside school and so they respond to classes better?

    I also teach language but my experience doesn’t really include pre-tech days (2002 I started) and so it is difficult to compare.

    If you’ve already answered this question then apologies,

    Really enjoying the discussion so far!

    all the best

    Andrew

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    1. whatedsaid Post author

      I honestly can’t say if there’s an improvement in the language skills of my students compared to before tech or not. What I can say is that they are totally engaged and are using the language in meaningful contexts for an authentic audience, hence are more motivated to learn. But anyway, technology is a huge part of life today, so why would we exclude it from the learning context? People used to walk or ride in carriages before cars were invented and they still got there, didn’t they? So why do you drive a car? :) Have you seen this video clip? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lm1sCsl2MQY
      Thanks for participating in the conversation!

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  20. Lynn Rasmussen

    “Technology integration is optional.”

    I agree, in principle, but what does “technology integration” mean? Where does it start and end?

    I’m an app developer and I can’t even begin to keep up with what’s going on out there.

    I admire what so many teachers are doing out there, but just thinking of the hours they’ve had to put in gives me a headache!

    What’s the short list of the minimum “tech integration” requirements?

    Why not just give every kid a notebook/ipad w/broadband and let them do the tech integration. It’d be a lot cheaper than all the hours of training and $ for whiteboards, calculators, etc.

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  21. Michael Stout

    Hi!
    This post has generated a lot of comments on Chuck Sandy and Curtis Kelly’s Facebook page from teachers in Asia. I think you might be interested in their perspectives. Here’s the link: http://tinyurl.com/3a4ao3g
    One of the comments that really hit home for me was the one Chuck shared from a teacher who said she would introduce technology into her classes when all her students had food to eat. This is just one of many things that I’ve encountered over the last year that has made me reflect on my use of technology in my lessons. Andrew Pickles question is a good one, and I’ve asked it myself.
    Cheers!

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  23. Rick Snoeyink

    Although respect must be earned, initially there should still be a mutual atmosphere of respect from and for both teacher and students.

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    1. Mike Seaverson

      I agree to a extent like of course the students should have respect from the teacher right away then if you loose it its gone and then the students should just treat the teacher however the teacher treats the student… It takes two to tangle…

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  24. whatedsaid Post author

    Dr Rasmussen, here’s a post I wrote a while ago with alternative ways of assessing. See what you think..

    http://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/learning-matters/

    Rick, I’ve added a whole separate post on the respect issue.

    I’ll write a separate post soon in response to what Michael’s written. Not getting sucked into the facebook discussion, I’s already addicted to blogs and Twitter :)

    Lynn, the IWB is one piece of technology I am not such a fan of, actually. It seems to promote the sort of old style everyone face the teacher learning situation which I have worked hard to move away from. As far as ‘keeping up’ is concerned, one doesn’t have to keep up with every new tool that appears out there… the focus should be on the learning and the tech to support it. Have blogged about this before.

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    1. jacksonbates

      I think it is good to move away from the old model of the ‘everyone face the teacher’ style of learning a lot of the time, but I think it is still a crucial part of the teaching and learning process some of the time, and IWBs really help to make this aspect of teaching much more effective when used appropriately.

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  25. Mike Bostock

    This is well–distilled list of challenges to some traditional assumptions.
    I like them very much.

    A discussion of each of them should advance any educationailst’s thinking on the key relationship between teacher and learner. It would be nice to read an expanded discourse on each one, and perhaps put forward some models for a much better way of organising schooling.

    Of course, many of these arise from the compromise of the one-teacher-to-thirty-pupis arrangement.
    Being outnumbered means you either have to work hard as a teacher to control the assumed flow of learning, or you can centre the responsibility on each pupil.

    ‘Supported Learning’ is probably a better concept than ‘teaching’.
    The challenge is how to organise the key inputs from the teacher that are needed to establish the understanding from which individualised learning can build upon. I once observed a super lesson where the teacher would check the understanding of the class from time to time, and gather up any group of pupils that were less certain for a quick injection of teacher input, before they continued, allowing others to carry on with their learning the whole time.

    The statement that most relates to my interest is ‘Learning can be measured by a letter or a number’.
    Rendering the complex process of learning into a single letter or number is an accepted convenience at the end of a course (a grade ‘A’ or a BSc, or an NPQH, for example) but during the process a profiling approach is probably what we should be using. The purpose of this would be to inform teacher and learning of the individual components that can be focussed on to improve the whole.

    I have written a little about this at my ‘blog’ at: http://www.mikebostock.wordpress.com which is otherwise about the use of performance data for determing the worth of a pupil, a teacher, a class, or a school.

    Thanks for an insight into possibilities to do things better, and for provoking such an interesting range of repsonses.

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  26. ianinsheffield

    Wow! That’s fired one or two folks up! Plenty of agreement, disagreement and one or two nerves clearly touched. I agree with most of the list Edna, as you might expect, and where I don’t, it’s more in semantic interpretation I think . . . like the word ‘respect.’

    But do you know what’s really got me thinking? The concept (albeit from a small, green latex puppet) of ‘unlearning.’ I guess it’s because I’m still wrestling with what ‘learning’ actually involves. Where I am so far is that the people who need to unlearn some of the items in the list may not be able to . . . and maybe that’s because they’ve stopped learning, well proactively at least. Sometimes we do need to move backwards a ways in order to move forwards; these folks are doing neither, and that can’t be good can it? So perhaps we need to aim to re-invigorate their thirst for learning so that the unlearning can begin?

    But unlearning? Wonder where that will lead? De-constructivist principles perhaps? Anti-social constructivism? Mis-behaviourism? ;-)

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  27. Stuart

    Agree with somewhat with most of the 10, except 5 and 10. I’ve proved some of them right, especially numbers 1 and 3 and to some extent, but not solely, number 8.

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  28. Orlando Falvo

    This discussion is great and points are being made that really should be addressed to every teacher. I have taught for 29 years as well as several years in business. What I have learned is that we must always be willing to challenge our own personal views on an issue for the sake of our students and customers. Our students are moving rapidly into a new age of learning and discovery. The needs of our students requires us to be fearless to make the changes that will help them succeed in their future. The use of technology is unarguable, but how we use it is still open for discussion. Research will be one of the keys to new technology applications in the classroom.

    From my own experience with out measured research, I introduced all my classes to Google docs last year and model how I used it for all of my pursuits. Their response was explosive and immediately. They saw the potential and utilized it not just in my classes but in all their classes. Teachers were coming to me asking how to get it, how to use it and and could I train them. Students were excited again and they( the teachers) saw the difference in their work.

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  29. AJW

    I have no problem agreeing with the list; these ideas have been said/written in one way or another for a long time. I do feel school admin and districts need to change their attitudes as well in order to aide in creating an atmosphere conducive to this change in teacher thinking. We can liken this situation of traditional teacher thinking to that of a disruptive/spoiled child. Oftentimes, it’s the parents who enable them and the child doesn’t know any better. Yes, we’re adults and professionals and ‘should know better’. But, somewhere this behavior was learned. And, you cannot say these traditional modes of thinking are mainly those of older teachers. I’ve seen plenty of younger teachers fall into these bad habits.

    I’d like to add one more to the list: ‘Powerpoints/Keynotes are not the panacea of teaching.’ As with anything, balance is important. Tech presentations can be powerful but, overused, can also be detrimental.

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  30. BG

    I think that a lot of this is quite right, but it’s the phrasing.

    Teachers know all the answers. – This is expected by the students, but sometimes it’s good to admit you don’t know, or challenge them to find out.

    2. Teachers have to be in control of the class – Students have to respect the environment in which they are, we all have the right to learn. Students have to learn the rules of the environment in order to create one that gives everyone equal respect.

    3. Teachers are responsible for the learning – teachers are responsible for providing an enviornment in which it is safe to learn.

    4. Students are obliged to respect teachers. – Respect is earned, not given. My classroom has a poster entitled “we all deserve the right to respect”, students need to respect people’s opinions and allow a FGFA (Fair Go For All), This can enable responsible and reacitve learning (Point 3).

    7. Learners need to sit quietly and listen – This harks back to respect, they need to be able to respect other’s opinions and that sometimes requires listening skills and courtesy for other people

    8. Technology integration is optional <—I'm an ICT Teacher.

    9. Worksheets support learning – I HATE WORKSHEETS

    10. Homework is an essential part of learning < — Homework for homework's sake is a waste of time, homework where there is a valid point can be essential.

    People are reactive beings, and as a classroom has 30 people in it, you should always be reactive to this environment. I go into each lesson with a lesson plan, but I am not afraid to react to the needs of my class, if a student makes a valid question, i'll set a homework based on it or stop the lesson to discuss a valid topic. although that may depart from the lesson plan and get me clobbered by OFSTED!!! ;o)

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  31. auroraofmusic

    As a kindergarten student teacher, I find it interesting that these “unlearned” rules somehow cannot be unlearned in my classroom. I’ve been student teaching here for 3 weeks, and I’ve tried to play the role of facilitator instead of dictator or authoritarian in the classroom. I am having a very difficult time gaining respect with the supervising teacher is NOT there and when I am left alone in the room with the students.

    I have tried everything it seems, but nothing is working. I informed them of my expectations, have tried collaborative group work (which was a fiasco both times I tried it), and have actually raised my voice this past week.

    I’m at a loss. My first official observation was a fiasco as well, because the kids were not engaged, they were not cooperating AT ALL during their group work, and there were students hitting each other whom I did not see.

    I am very frustrated and very confused. Any advice would be welcomed. Thanks.

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    1. whatedsaid Post author

      Perhaps, as a brand new teacher, especially of little ones, you have to get a degree of control first, before you can let go :-)
      Yes, I do have advice and I’ll email you.

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  32. Cate

    Improving fine motor coordination, developing muscle memory, increasing confidence in ability to decipher symbols, working alongside others in a fairly demanding discipline, etc etc – impossible without frequent practice ie home learning or home work. Learning to play the recorder in a group of 30 twice a week for a few weeks then just once a week thereon, is exciting only when progress is relatively swift. The excitement is tangible from all those who establish a consistent practice routine. All the non-recorder playing “games” help stimulate even the reluctant learners but, without that practising routine, their potential is never reached. Parental interest and support can make an enormous difference for these children of course, but all too often these same children have numerous other problems which are seen to be far more important than helping with what can be a fairly tough task! (Noisy, horrible initial sounds, frustrations – takes a lot of patience!)

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    1. whatedsaid Post author

      Thanks for the comment… As I said above ‘None of them are absolutes, of course’!! The idea was to get people thinking about common teaching practices and beliefs which exist simply because ‘that’s the way things are done’ Obviously learning a musical instrument requires practice!

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  33. Start the Music

    I think one needs to be careful saying these ideas are out dated. A good mix of all this stuff does work. Technology for example is great for certain things, but doesn’t need to be the end all be all. Worksheets may be better for some students than others. Homework helps students practice what they’ve learned. No, none of this can stand on its own as full education, but through integration and differentiation we need some of the ‘out dated’ items. We need to think broadly and how we can incorporate the old with the new. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

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  35. Steve Philp

    I’ve just been doing some research into a master’s assignment and discovered that Vygotsky said this:

    ‘If the teacher were to have a motto, it would surely be where before there was a spectator, let there now be a participant. One provides a scaffold to ensure that the child’s ineptitudes can be rescued by appropriate intervention, and then removes the scaffold part by part as the reciprocal structure can stand on its own.’

    His language may be outdated, but I think he’d have agreed with every point on your list (and that was in about 1930!)

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    1. Steve Philp

      I’ve just been reflecting on my own comment and thinking that one of the problems with the list is that ‘teaching’ doesn’t fully encompass what we do. We’re teachers of knowledge yes, but we’re also trainers of skills, like in sport and music, which need more practice. (10000 hours apparently to become a top class sports star). We’re also coaches. And we’re mentors. Drawing out, instilling and inculcating positive attitudes in our students.

      Come to think of it, if you’re a teacher reading this – You’re amazing!

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  36. KC

    As long as the bosses (asst principals and principals and superintendents and, yes, parents) think some of that stuff applies, it’ll apply. Who wants to lose their job for being extra creative yet lacking “control” of classroom, for example?

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  42. Anthony R.

    For #8 “Technical Integration is optional.” , it is during a few classes where technical integration is needed, not optional; like, Senior focus where we need the computers to clip the footage from our camcorders. Now it is optional in a type of class like Lit & Lang, you don’t need it but it is optional to use it to strengthen the teachers ideas to the student body.

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  43. Mike Seaverson

    Number four I think is complete crap… The students should only respect the teachers if the teachers deserve it. In my opinion if their going to be stuck up or mean to the students then the students can do the same.

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