Explore the power of one

Something that really interests me lately is education reform, undoubtedly because I am a stakeholder on matters about education – as a parent of school-aged kids, a taxpayer and an educator.

Exploring problems

I’m first to say I’m not an expert on any particular camp.  However, I can definitely see the wisdom in the fight against standardized tests, bursting curriculum, teacher-centric modes of teaching, proliferation of subject/course-expertise/silos, etc.

image from http://www.tpck.org/

Using the TPACK model, a teacher not only needs to know Content, Pedagogy and Technology – he/she needs to know how to blend the three aspects in the classroom.

Add to that external pressures (expectations) about student performance, teacher quality or even just to keep with the times (pedagogically and technologically, for example).  Really, there’s a plethora of learning theories waiting to be realized in the classroom.

And there are studies, too, like how adolescents adjust circadian rhythms and would benefit from a later start to their day.  Or how students learn best when engaged or find the topic personally relevant or meaningful.  Or statistics that show increased funding in the education sector has not shown a proportionate level of increase in student performance (not justifying this act of measuring and statistical interpretation, in the first place).

In short, teachers are challenged by students, society and peers to optimize learning opportunities in schools, even beyond if you ascribe to a blended learning model. That’s a tough call, particularly when you think that teachers are being expected to teach in a way they have never been taught (assuming you accept that modeling is an effective way of teaching), using tools not even thought about when they learning the content they are now expected to deliver.

…that’s just scraping the surface….

Exploring solutions

As a parent

I accept my responsibility as a co-teacher of my children in developing them as active contributors to society, even as children.  I tell them to see their teachers as human beings and be particularly understanding of teachers who appear to stumble because they are learning themselves.  I fight the urge to value grades and awards yet somehow celebrate achievements  (I’ve got to post on this).  I acknowledge that a lot of content covered in school is not really “useful” but hey, learning can be fun nonetheless.  I tell them that though individually important and valued, togetherness is just as important; sometimes compromises have to be made (individual vs. collective).  I encourage them to do join team sports as well as pursue individual interests like playing musical instruments.

…you get the drift…

As a taxpayer (generic member of society)

I exercise my right to vote and policies on education are weighed along with everything else.

I talk to anyone about the demands on schools and teachers.  Empathy breeds understanding. I veer away from talk about the best profession because that’s like asking what’s the best part of the human body.  Know your role and do it well; learn about others and appreciate them.

I wish I could say I am an activist and lobby for change but that’s not really me.  I can’t even say I’d sign petitions as such but maybe, when the cause moves me enough….

As an educator

I am the change agent in my classroom. I change what I can – try out different learning theories: new technology, new pedagogy and extra content.  With variety, there’s a greater chance of addressing the diversity of individual students.

I continue to learn by reading, connecting and reflecting (where would I be without my PLN at school, in Twitterverse and the blogosphere?).  I’m not embarrassed to say that one of my strengths is connecting ideas so, while not exactly original, I do innovate.

I help spread and develop ideas in my own little way in my own little world; I talk and listen, I blog and comment, I tweet and re-tweet.  It’s not revolutionary but it is something and I take comfort in that.

I support and cheer those who are also doing what they can.

I accept what I cannot change, like I cannot make everyone happy (or address individual student needs and aspirations) all the time.  I might grumble just a bit though.

Is this enough? What else can reasonably be done?

I should probably attend RSCON3 by Reform Symposium.

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2 thoughts on “Explore the power of one

  1. Mrs S says:

    Hi Malyn

    What a great reflective post. I like the way you have looked at this idea from the three roles that you take on. Your view from the eyes of a parent really resonated with me. My own children are nearing the end of their formal education and this was a belief that I held throughout my contact with the schools they attended. The schools were not solely responsible for my children’s education and I often talked to their teachers about this. I did love celebrating my children’s achievements but felt that it was also vital to point out that learning never ceases and there is always something new to learn – inside and outside school hours.

    Mrs S

  2. malyn says:

    Thanks Mrs S. I’m glad this resonates with you. I think most parents do feel this way so educators could definitely tap into this.

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