Continuing the Conversation

There’s quite a conversation going on over at David Warlick’s 2Cents Worth. It has morphed from teacher education into another discussion. I want to add my 25 cents worth regarding the first few comments about the need for pre-service teachers to be taught to make the connection between the technology they use personally AND its application to their future teaching. This is not an automatic process … in fact, I agree with the previous writers, it is not a process that occurs in most teacher ed programs.

In fact, I am the only one in my department who is implementing a vast majority of read/write web tools AND one of a small number who are willing to take the heat from the students … that’s right, they don’t want to change the way they do things. That is, they don’t really want to do school any differently than how they’ve been schooled. Notice the emphasis on schooling – not learning.

They don’t like student-centered classes where they are responsible for their own learning. Too many of my students leave comments on their course evaluations that say something about why their instructor (that’s me) didn’t do the teaching. Last semester I had students lead discussions on the course issues – too many didn’t like that approach. Most of them wanted me to stand and lecture – all the responsibility for their learning then falling on my shoulders.

I believe strongly that I am doing them a great disservice by employing a teacher-centered approach – that does not prepare them to be teachers … to respond to the unpredictable classroom (in which they will be student teaching within 2 semesters) … to make decisions regarding what to focus on, what is important enough to discuss, what they believe and how that effects their teaching … or to learn the skills that they will need to pass on to their students.

As a teacher educator, it is my responsibility to prepare my students to be successful teachers. To me that means helping them (sometimes forcing them) to make the transition from sit-and-listen students, to informed risk-taking teachers. I will not back down, I will continue to present as many alternatives for teaching as I can; many of which take advantage of the vast availability of Web2.0 tools.

For me it’s not as much about the tools as it is about the pedagogy. Too many of my students have seen only one way to teach. When they come to my class they see many other methods … and … they see good applications of technology to those methods.


9 thoughts on “Continuing the Conversation

  1. Cheri,

    I’ve heard this before. It seems that people want to become teachers because they want to do what their favorite teachers did. I wish I could remember the source, but it seems that there was a study a while back concluding that of all the factors that contribute to how a teacher teaches, the one with the most influence was “how they were taught.”

    It’s why the morphing of the conversation on my post is so important. It’s because of the technology, and even more because of how technology has changed our information landscape that the old teacher-centered pedagogies are no long relevant. Their exclusive use is actually counter productive. I think that this is the case we have to make. That teaching children how to be taught makes no sense to their future. Instead, we have to teach them to teach themselves.

    Thanks for the continued conversation!

    — dave —

  2. Great comments, Cheri. Hmmmm, looks like I have another blog to add to my news reader! The list is getting longer and longer, but thats perfectly fine, because in the past year and a half or so that I’ve started really following blogs (thank you RSS), I’ve thought and pondered and debated more about issues in my chosen profession of education than I have in the entire 15 years of my teacher life prior to becoming “connected”.

    But, I have CHOSEN to engage in the conversation, and there, I believe lies the rub in all of this. How do we encourage and nurture others to take the leap? It is daunting for most teachers, especially considering the testing pressures and burdens of time availability that seem to rule the day. Yet the image that sticks in my mind is the scene from The Matrix where Morpheus offers Neo the two pills and a choice – I am glad that I have chosen the red pill to see how deep the rabbit hole goes!

  3. Thanks for the comments Dave and Jeff,

    I think we’re all on the same page – do what we can to influence current teachers and teacher education faculty through professional development and modeling. And in my case, expose as many preservice teachers to our world (Web 2.0, Read/Write Web – or whatever you want to call it).

    I know that I had great success with this approach in my last class. I had an excellent group of doctoral students who were clueless about Web 2.0 tools and their applications. But … by the end of the semester, they are teaching other teachers, requiring it of their students, and even conducting workshops.

    This is the same group that were on the WOW2.0 ( webcast on April 17. You can find the link here: We had a wonderful time! I am so excited about what they are all doing now … one story:

    One of the students deleted all the information from one of our class wiki pages. Instead of fixing it for him, (as we all know by now goes against my teaching philosophy) I told him to figure out how to get the information back. After a couple of attempts, and some help from his classmates, he was successful. About a week after the course was over I got an email from him telling me that he created a wiki to use with his sports team that was traveling out of the country. Now that’s fun to hear! A real victory for this high school teacher who was just introduced to the power of Web 2.0 tools.

  4. Hi Cheri,

    I think it’s important that despite the negative feedback you’re sticking to your student centered approach. If David’s comment above is true that the way a teacher teaches is most heavily influenced by how they were taught, which I believe is true, it becomes that much more important to lead by example and facilitate your class the same way you they should.

    As more students start to model your student centered approach in their own classrooms it should become a domino effect and, hopefully, start to change the ineffective pedagogies used to effective ones where students take ownership of their own learning.

  5. Hey, Cheri–
    I hope to build on your success stories–I have a Regional Office of Education that is going to allow me a full day to present a wiki workshop in a computer lab within their offices. This is something of a breakthrough. In the past, workshops were only three hours and held school and/or on Saturday mornings–no additional compensation–oh, but of course the honored Illinois CPDU. And now the conversation morphs form what we need to teach them to when…but if we are going to ask teachers to really change what they are doing, we cannot also ask them to find their own time to do it in. If we want teachers to build new neural connections and in their learning, transmit the same to kids, we have to meet them on a playing field that isn’t all uphill. Teachers need to be provided training that is manageable within the demands of the job and not outside of it!
    We are making progress, but as Frost writes, “…miles to go before I sleep…”

  6. Cheri,
    I have got to tell you I love this sentence: “For me it’s not as much about the tools as it is about the pedagogy.” I debate this sentence all the time with colleagues. For me, I get concerned about this sentence once and a while. I don’t want teachers to think that if their pedagogy is good they don’t have to use the tools.

    We have a bit in common. You work with pre-service teachers. I do the professional development with teachers once they have a job in our school districts.

  7. Pingback: LearningTimes Green Room » Blog Archive » LTGR Ep. #33 - “First Year Teacher Prep”

  8. I am very glad I found your site on digg. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my boyfriend were just preparing to do some research about this. I am very glad to see such great information being shared freely out there.
    Best wishes,
    Dru from Gary city

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