Week 6 What Future for Education

So what have I learnt from doing this MOOC: the dominant discourses in teaching and teacher education, had the greatest impact on my thinking. While I had thought about the charismatic teachers and have seen teachers who work like this I have favoured the competent practitioner as a model for discussing and supporting teachers to improve their practice. Using the ATSIL framework in Australia has provided a way to discuss what competent teachers look like. The reflective practitioner who reflects on their practice was not one that I had given much thought. The discussions highlighted for me how the last two interrelate and especially when I reflect on how I view good teaching from a leadership perspective. I believe that both the competent and reflective framework are important when discussing teacher quality. Teachers who are not reflective of their practice are not likely to improve. We need to be able to critically reflective of what we are doing, the competent teacher materials can support this process. While reviewing this work I think that the teacher standards that we are using in Australia make it possible to combine both processes and ways of viewing teacher competence. The self review process and the app to collate evidence of how teachers have achieved the standards support the reflection process. They also give us a common language to discuss teacher quality.

I enjoyed the work on the expert learner and challenging the myth of ability. After hearing the lectures I have discussed these with both teaching staff and also students, especially those who feel that they are not good learners. Often these students don’t see themselves as learners, yet when it comes to sport they undertake the training and practice required to develop their skills, yet they have not transferred these skills to learning. The lecture by Gordon Stobart highlighted the need to discuss this with students so that they develop another view of themselves as learners.

The week 4 lectures on schools making a difference highlighted the need to look at what schools are doing for those students who are not successful. We know that there are some students for whom the industrialised model of schooling is not successful. Yet in the elementary years we have not been successful in creating learning spaces that will meet the educational needs of these students. In part this is constrained by curriculum demands of governments, which for me have become more restricted over my 35 years of teaching. Having moved from the Freedom and Authority Memorandum of the 1970’s in South Australia, a one page document that outline the freedom and authority teachers had to design the curriculum to a national curriculum that is prescriptive with time allocations and achievement standards, has restricted the ways schools can at times cater for different ways of learning.

So what does this mean for the future of education. Today access to information is greater. In schools we need to harness the ability for students to access learning in places and times that best suit them. Yet the questions we need to ask is will a reliance on technology be restrictive for disadvantaged students whose only ability to access the technology is through the school. How do we also ensure that all students have the literacy skills to access technology to receive the best education they can. We know that students from disadvantaged backgrounds have a restricted register when they come to school and the development of school talk is an important role undertaken in early years teaching, which also developed students literacy skills. Are these possible without face to face teaching.

Without internet access and access to hardware students are not able to use devices such as Padlet or Google Hangout to access and participate fully in the learning. Both of these tools helped the learners on this course to feel connected and to share their thinking while being in a myriad of different places around the world. Enabling us to learn about other education systems and to also see that often the issues that we face are not so different. Is this a reflection of globalisation or a reflection of the right wing governments who see education as a market rather than as a way to enrich and develop students. Ultimately, I think the future of education requires of blend of both the industrialised model as well as opportunities for students to develop their own learning based on areas of interest that is not always restricted by a common timetable or what is available in their location.

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Week 5 Why do governments fund education

Education is the right of all child, it needs to be of a high quality and the valued curriculum needs to be accessible to all children. This means that education should be funded equitably by governments, this does not mean that the funding should be the same for all students and schools. Funding should be based on need so that those with the greatest need should receive more funded. Schools also need to linked to the community and reflect the values of the community. Disadvantaged communities and families need to feel that their local school is reflective of them and understands the needs of that community. While still providing opportunities for students to develop and progress in life.

Schools need funding that will allow them to provide the programs that they need to give students the education they need to access a high quality education and to have programs that will make a difference. The i give a Gonski website provides a range of ways the Gonski reforms to education funding by the Gillard government have made changes to students lives. Unfortunately, this funding system is being stopped as the Abbott Government reverts to prior funding systems where independent schools receive the greatest amount of funds. The ideological beliefs of free market and an independent education system are what is now driving the funding basis for education in Australia. The idea of “Public and Proud” and an high quality education for all does not have the same priority.

Week 4 Can Schools Make A Difference

Yes schools can make a difference, but to do this they need to work alongside and with families. Schools that connect and work with communities to ensure that students feel valued can make a difference in the life of students. This can be a dichotomy as schools promote the values of Middle class and western society which can often not be the values and beliefs of the community where they are situated. Yet if we want schooling to make a difference for children and to to school them to be lifelong learners than it may be necessary for schools to adopt this model.

Schools today are different from when I was in school as we no longer stream students and they are expected to stay in school until they are 18. This means in high schools there are a range of pathways for students to take. Yet at the same time they have not changed at all and can still be rigid places that do not take into consideration the varying concepts of how students learn.

In primary schools we now talk about whole school agreements and what the learning blocks will look like, we have a far more rigid curriculum guidelines then when I first started teaching. In part this is driven by national testing and now a national curriculum. Being able to show that you have made a difference is important through the self review and external review processes. While these are not as imposing and all encompassing as the UK system, they still, do play a role in ensuring that there is compliance across the system.

We need to be skilling students for the 21st century, which to me does not mean that technology is the overwhelming factor, but we do need to develop students skills to be creative, to be able to problem solve, to be able to communicate and also to be accepting of difference. Living in a global world we can longer ignore what is happening outside our borders and we need to skills students to be compassionate of others.

Future of Education: What Makes A Good Teacher

We cannot under estimate the impact that had a good teacher has on the learning and achievement of students. How we become good teachers depends on: the training that we had, where we work, our induction processes and the desire to continue to reflect, learn and improve our practice. A good teacher has to be flexible and able to adapt to their environment, the students that they are working with.

At the start of the week I reflected on charismatic teachers. These teachers the children want to please, but unfortunately the students intrinsic motivation is not developed. This should be one of the focuses in th elementary years. This does not mean that charismatic teachers are not good teachers as many of them can adapt and challenge students.

Throughout my career I have worked and developed a number of teachers, the use of standards have helped to define what teaching looks like and how teachers can develop over the time of their career. If used correctly teacher standards can be used as a tool to guide professional development and improvement. When they are used as a big stick then they loose their value. They make it easy to describe what a teacher is doing and provide a common language for this to occur. Like when working with students feedback is important and this feedback needs to be explicit and support growth, not just “well done” comments. They are also important if we are to draw a line in the sand, with those teachers who should not be in the profession. For there are always some people for whom teaching should not be a career. We have all seen them and need to be able to describe what is wrong with their practice so that we can either support them to improve or to find another careers.

Teachers need to understand the children that they are working with. They need to develop authentic relationships with the children that they are teaching, this is fundamental to any school. Without the development of positive relationships with all students then it does not matter how much you plan, challenge and develop the learning program it will not work. We need to remember in the words of Dr Kevin Maxwell:

Our job is to teach the students we have.
Not the ones we would like to have.
Not those we used to have
Those we have right now.
All of them.

Week 3 Future of Education What Makes a Good Teacher

I don’t remember any particular outstanding teachers, who would have reached movie star proportions. I certainly had teachers who encouraged the students they had, made the work interesting and some classes that I preferred going to than other classes. The history teacher that I had in year 11 gave me a life long love of studying history, one that I still enjoy today.

My year 7 teacher I will always remember because he introduced activity based maths to the class. This was radical at the time when we all sat in rows and copied from the board. While he had us out of our seats doing Ben diagrams using hoops. In a classroom today we would think nothing about it.

These teachers were very different from teachers portrayed in the movies. The majority of them are charismatic, single focussed and always avenging right over wrong. While in schools today you also see charismatic teachers who can be very good, they don’t always instil in students the skills to undertake the work for themselves. They develop in students a belief that they can do the work or develop intrinsic motivation in students. Students work at pleasing the teacher rather than developing the need to learn for themselves.

Teachers have a profound impact on students and their learning, but good teachers have an impact on other teachers as well and are able to work with develop others. Good teachers make a difference in the learning outcomes for students, they help them to grow and develop as learners as well as developing students intrinsic motivation. This means they need to be good at providing feedback for students that will support the to continue on their learning journey.

Week 2 Future of Education – What Is Intelligence

When I first saw the question “how was intelligence measured when I was at school?” I thought this didn’t happen. On reflection I realise that I was looking at IQ testing as opposed to how ability or intelligence was measure in the school systems. I was at school in South Australia during the era of streaming in the secondary school. After the first year of high school students were streamed on the basis of their ability: academic, commercial or opportunity classes. The streaming was what determined your work choices after school. Without being in the academic stream you could not matriculate and receive a score to go to university. I was fortunate to be in the academic steam so my career choices were not limited. This form of streaming led to there being different expectations for different groups of students and I am sure that we lived up to these expectations. Having been placed in the academic stream meant there was an expectation that I would go on to higher education and this is what happened.

Having worked in disadvantaged schools the majority of my teaching career does lead people to make judgements about your intelligence. Parents believe and can treat you as if you are the holder of all knowledge and I have tried to ensure that they don’t feel this. In many cases when talking to parents I change the register I use when speaking to make sure that people are comfortable and also that I am getting my message across. This register changes depending on the groups that I am talking to. Many parents I work with see teachers and other with higher education qualifications as being more knowledgeable, but this is not always the case as it depends on the topic under discussion. Knowledge though is power and being able to develop your skills and abilities is important.

I talk to students in the school about knowledge being power and how having the skills to seek and find the knowledge they are looking for and then to be critical of what they are reading is important. These are the skills that they need throughout their life and so learning becomes a life long process. Over time I have continued to learn, to develop new skills and to apply new knowledges to my life. I see myself as a learner because I seek out new knowledge, new ways of learning and then apply this new learning to my life or practice.

In education we often talk about teaching for 30years or teaching for 1 year 30 times. I see myself as a teacher who has taught for 30 years and to do this it has been important to continue to my personal learning. MOOCs are now the new way to do this and one that suits my learning style at this time.

Week 2 Intelligence

What is intelligence? How do you know if someone is intelligent or not? Do you consider yourself to be intelligent? Why? What is your evidence for this?

Intelligence is the ability to problem solve and adapt to changing conditions. It is not just a score from a test that is normed to white middle class population. You can see young children who can problem solve when faced with a issue that is not immediately able to resolved. These children are able to adapt what they are doing, move beyond the literal and solve a problem without always referring to an adult. There are many adults who are the same, yet they may not have been successful in school or be literate. Unfortunately, we tend in society to judge people by their ability to read and write and to be successful at exams. Working in a school you see many children who may not be academically successful but they are able to control their world and their learning, while there are other who are not in control of their learning or their emotions. They have a literal understanding of the world and can not see beyond this black and white interpretation to problem solve. They have limited adaptability and are unable to transfer their knowledge from one setting to another.

Yes I would think that I am intelligent as I have demonstrated that I can adapt and change, as well as transfer my knowledge and reapply it in another string.

The Future of Education

We know that we all learn in different ways and in different settings. Yet in schools we do not always apply these ideas to the learning setting. We revert often to traditional models of learning that is suited to the industrial age. At times in schools this is about control and feeling that we have achieved something if children copy from the board. It is also often what students force teachers into doing in classrooms as this fits their model of learning or rather their beliefs about school. We know that this methods of schooling will not provide the students with the skills that they need.

When educating children for the 21st century we need to be looking developing student skills of collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking. These are embedded within the general capabilities of the Australian Curriculum, yet teachers are not necessarily trained or skilled at developing these skills in students. How can we skill teachers to be facilitators of learning and to develop the thinking skills of students is one of the questions that I hope will be answered through the MOOC What future education.

Schools need to be places of learning that offer students to options to learn in the ways that best suit them, to use technology when needed, to work in environments that suit their learning. The difficulty is how we can create this change when teachers and families continue to have a industrial view of education and while schools are becoming the first point of call for parents with social and emotional problems.

Throughout this MOOC I am interested to learn about how we support students to find the best ways that suit them for their learning so that they can grow and develop into lifelong learners.

What Future for Education Week 1 Reflections on successful and unsuccessful learning experiences.

This is an interesting questions as the learning experiences that I have undertaken in the last 20 odd years have been successful. These have included both formal study and informal study. Although I think that for myself there needs to be some formality to the study. If there are no deadlines and requirements then like exercise I can quickly stop doing the learning or course.

All the successful learning experiences have been on topics that I wish to undertake study in. Having a desire to do the learning and an interest in the topic is necessary to make the learning engaging. This may not always happen when the learning is forced on me.

I know that I don’t need to attend lectures face to face to find the learning successful. As I have undertaken a number of distance courses and also undertaken face to face courses that have both been successful. There does need to be time into the process for reflection and research that allows for deep learning and not just the service learning that can happen when attending conferences. I like the flexibility of distances courses as this allows one to work full time and then do the course. The options for different courses that met your interest are also more flexible. This is the first year that have heard about MOOCs and have found that I am able to undertake a number of courses, that challenge me while also being enriching.

As an adult my style of learning would be what Elmore (2014) calls distributive individual. In this quadrant the learner learn for their own benefit to develop the skills that they want. They take responsibility for their learning and it is undertaken on an involuntary basis. The learning is not always limited to formal situations and the Eleanor determines the success of the learning.

The challenge for me as a teacher is that I don’t operate in the schools in this manner, but see formal structures of learning as being necessary especially in the early years.

Elmore, R (2014). Modes of Learning. pdf from GSE2x: Leaders of Learning MOOC.

MOOCs

Having first heard about MOOCs in Singapore at an educational leadership conference, I have decided to give them a go.

The Applying Principles of Behaviour In the K – 12 Classroom has been extremely useful as it has provided me with a range of skills to review what we are about the management of student behaviour in schools. The current step process is not working for a number of students. So using the tools of Functional Behavioural Assessment may be the way forward. Once the new term begins we will start to explore these in more depth with the staff.

The course has been timely when we read the papers and the opinions of whether removal from a class infringes on the rights of the child. Maybe FBA gives us another tool to deal with those students who make it difficult for others to learn.