Friday, 15 February 2008

21st Century Education - No - "What we do is".........Aaaaaah!!!!

Talking about our 'schools of the future' with one group of teachers were briefly slowed down by one person stating: "No you don't understand - what we do is........ and we have done it that way for many years!" accompanied with "It works for us that way". (Many classrooms still work on the Victorian classroom model - that just can't be right!)

No one seemed to link these statements with the fact that their students have been massively underperforming for years "doing it that way" and achieving no where near their potential.

The professional journey that teachers have to go on is huge as we move towards what is being called 21st century education. (Some teachers don't appear to realise we are in that century yet!). Talking to colleagues in the UK and the USA, where it appears to be also true, the message seems to be that education authorities are not approaching this professional development issue anywhere near early enough with insufficent 'buy in' from the very start from the very people who have to work in new learning environments .

The dilemma often revolves around the issue that some teachers who are stressed / have low morale hear people talking about new styles of teaching and learning, 21st century schools and simply see more work for them without really being motivated to explore the very exciting possiblities. Add to that the real fear that some staff have of their lack of technological skills when compared to the students they teach and it can become very daunting.

Most staff, where ever they, are usually excited by new buildings but can be nervous about what they mean for their own practice. A few vocal teachers can then always argue that 'the kids are the same and they will not change' and 'lets talk about behavoiur'. There is significant research that shows that students behave differently in new envirnoments, especially those that demonstrate respect for the students and provide a range of formal and informal meeting places.

It is THEN that the teachers really have to change their practice so maximise the benefits of the new environments for learning, making full use of the techology and help engage the students. What many don't really know is HOW to do WHAT? 'Same old same old' will not work!This conversation is quite major and should be acccompanied by early planning, modelling, coaching, collaborative working etc so everyone gains confidence in expanding their professional practice. Only when this is really done, in plenty of time(!), will the impact on results be as significant as they should be.


Anonymous said...

Hi Gareth,

A great post.

My new Head is encouraging the teaching staff to try new things. In an underachieving school, I understand that if we continue to do the same things as before, we will get the same results.

Equally, it's important to recognise that on the whole, teachers can't work any harder, so we have to examine what practices we do now that don't have a high impact on teaching and learning.

Gareth Long said...

Thanks for this comment - and I agree that we cannot expect teachers to work harder.

I also agree with your last comment.... as one recent post I read recently noted it is also about what we want teachers to stop doing as much as what we do want them to do.