Are you an educator? Listen to this …

Chris Lehman, Principal at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, put together a 5-minute presentation that helps us define a 21st Century education. That’s right, 5 minutes

He talks really fast, so here are his slides: Lehman IgnitePhilly.

So …

  • What skills are your students building? How will those skills serve them when their done with school? Will they still be relearning and reeducating themselves?
  • Do you give your students time to play? Do you take time to play
  • Are you unlearning and relearning?
  • What questions did Chris’ preso raise for you?
  • What can you apply in your teaching, classroom, professional development that will make a difference for your students, colleagues, administration, etc.?

My application: I will be asking my doc students to put together a speed preso – 5 minutes, 20 slides, 15 seconds per slide. This is only possible when you have thoroughly analyzed, sythensized, and created relationships between the elements of the information. It’s hard to make

4 thoughts on “Are you an educator? Listen to this …

  1. Stop treating schools like business… too true… to some degree. The business model is where we got the idea to incorporate technology into the classrooms. It’s where we got the idea about group collaboration to complete projects. When corporations became team based and project based, schools followed suit. It is ashame, but true. It probably would have come about anyway, but with the businesses demanding better prepared students, the schools had no choice. Many businesses started adopting schools to make sure that the students were prepared. This is how it evolved in the Detroit system, perhaps elsewhere different things happened.

    “Good data and accountability is what they do daily,” but if they can’t pass the test… then what did they learn? Did they really learn? Projects are good, but they also are troubleshot most of the time when done in the real-world. If we are teaching them, we do not want them troubleshooting or guessing when they first start to use a certain technique or process. We want to give them tools that they can remember from heart; that become so ingrained that when they are in a real-world situation, they make the right choice 99% of the time without guessing. This is where classroom practice comes in, this is where rehearsals in the theatre and band practice, and essay writing peer edits, and other practice processes come into play. You do not just hand a child a project and say figure it out. You walk them through the process and give them a chance to practice each stage, then you put it all together to see if they understand how it works, then they can move to troubleshooting if need be. But the educational process teaches instruction, guidance, then independent practice. The Internet is great, but if you need to know something in a split second, you don’t have time to Google it… you have to know it! Troubleshoot once you get the fundamentals, not while you’re trying to learn it.

    It is about the subject… the student and the subject… They are finding the information, but the subject is the key. We are not babysitters, we are not counselors. We should only care about our subjects and let the other people in the system do their jobs. If we were in a corporation, we would be the team leaders and the students would be project members. When someone has a problem (no babysitter, car broke down, family member died), we care, we tell them to take time off, but we don’t cuddle them… because we don’t have time. In an educational system such as a high school, I have 139-150 students a day. They are pregnant, they’re frustrated with home issues and the problems of life, and I do not have time to speak to every single one of them about why they don’t have their homework or don’t feel like participating that day. I send them to the counselors or social workers in the building if they are unable to function. I came to the very real realization that I am fully 100% replaceable. If something happened to me today, there would be someone in my classroom tomorrow.

    Do not fool these children. They have to learn to work through their problems. When they get to college or the corporate world, there won’t be anyone to tell them to see the counselor or talk their problems through with a friend or family member. When you stop showing to class, they drop you from the roll and still charge you for the semester. You have to find the Ombusdman or counseling services yourself. You have to talk to your academic advisor and dean of students yourself.

    We have to prepare them for problem solving skills in the classroom and the real world. No one will hold your hand once you get a certain age. Elementary school, you are cradled and led through everything, you are taught what adults do to solve problems on your behalf. In middle school, you keep your homeroom, but some of the classes become separate from the others you are used to, you have to socialize in a different way and you don’t have just one or two teachers to contend with when you have problems. In high school, all of the classes and teachers are separate from friends (usually), and you have to make your own way through with the help of your counselor.

    When you get to college… if the scaffolding taught you good support skills and how to maneuver the system… then you should make it through and be fine once you begin your job search. Let’s see education for what it is, a stepping stone to your future career. It is not full-time employment, it is preparation in a safe environment where it is o.k. for your to make mistakes without fear of getting fired. You make a mistake, you improve, you pass the class. The classroom environment may change (desks and chairs, etc.), but the purpose should not.

  2. In poking around on Dr. Toledo’s “Cycling through Education,” blog, I noted three major facets. First, I use the term “poking around,” because the blog was so long and extensive that the best I could do was gather a breadth of the info offered. However, this does not mean that the breadth of information is poor. On the contrary, I found Dr. Toledo’s collection of resources from her blog to be very insightful. In fact, I will be incorporating the 5 minute presentation offered by Chris Lehman in my class as a means to ensure that students really know a subject of their choice. Secondly, the “Cycling through Education,” Theme she has choosen for her blog really tells me something about her. In considering online pedagogies, one thing I believe I am concerned about losing form the face-to-face environment is the personal connections with students that I believe are important to learning. That being said, I believe Dr. Toldeo, whom I’ve never met face-to-face before has made a small connection with us by incorporating pieces of her hobbies and interests in the theme of her blog. Before I was really familiar with the blog, I thought the “Cycling through Education,” title was a reference to the cyclical nature of many issues in education. While I’m sure this would have been a very effective scholarly approach to the blog, I was pleasantly surprised by the theme for this site.
    Third, and perhaps most importantly, I chose to focus on just two aspects of Dr. Toledo’s blog: The Chris Lehman Video and the mid-50’s set video. First the Chris Lehman video/speed presentation. Dr. Toledo intends to incorporate this in her doctoral classes. I intend to incorporate rendition of this in my undergraduate classes. I concur with Dr. Toledo that the truncated time for the presentation forces someone to be fully aware of the issue. If a student gets up there to babble or read from note cards, they will bore us for 5 (or more) minutes. If they get up there and let their passion flow (like the first paragraph of Dr. Toldeo’s blog mentions), the attendees will see this and it will be apparent that they are passionate about the topic. So to aide the students in this assignment, I plan to let them pick any one topic related to social foundations of education that we have discussed in class this semester and have them give a 5 minute speed presentation on that topic. The point of this topic is not to offer an answer but to realize the need for additional inquiry in an area. Teaching is about helping students develop good questions…not just right answers. This keeps with my philosophy that the last thing I want to create are “competent students,” at least how the standards whiz’s define competent.
    Next the mis-50’s set video: I found the content of this video to be rather strahgt forward and not so earth shattering. Yet, Dr. Toledo’s recognition that the politicians of today’s hottest elections were educated under the authoritarian, strict pedagogies of the 50’s and 60’s is a keen observation. For me it happens to be a hopeful one. It is my hope that eventually younger, new politicians will be entrenched and they will fight for more equitable forms of educational funding, accountability; maybe even redefine who is accountable and how. Why isn’t the state government ever graded on their ability to provide sound school buildings for our children? Why aren’t they held accountable for great inequities in school funding?
    Technically, the voters could hold them accountable, but education really hasn’t been a planned discussion in the recent presidential debates. The candidates seem to be treating education as a solution. Education can be a solution but the rhetoric of the candidates has assumed a post facto tint to the solution. We’ve assumed that there is a societal problem that needs to be fixed. As a result, we keep working toward fixing something rather than first articulating what needs to be “fixed,” or if fixing it is the solution. Once again Washington is seeking results without asking appropriate, accurate questions.

  3. Tamyra,

    I want to make sure you understand my point about imposing the business model on education. It is my view that because of the importance in business to produce a valuable and marketable product the accountability is quantifiable and many times reductionistic. Very behavioral – stimulus->response.

    That approach has been superimposed on education where we are not counting widgets … we are not producing cars or candy bars. We are helping shape lives and minds and relationships. And while there is plenty of content that our students must master, the methods for determining their mastery and ability to apply that knowledge and those skills must be authentic in order to be accurate.

    Standardized testing is not an authentic assessment for anything but the ability to take standardized tests. We’ve known this for years … thus the popularity of companies such as Kaplan … they teach test-taking skills for the SAT, ACT, GRE, and more. And those students who do well in their classes do much better on the tests as a result of the skills they have acquired.

    So why has testing come to the center of accountability in education? In my critical … and cynical in this case … opinion much of it has to do with the business of testing. Who produces the tests? What else do they produce? It’s big business – a real money maker for some. A real deal breaker for educators.

    Again, we’re not producing students … we are guiding them. It’s an art … not an assembly line.

  4. fullertamu,

    Thank you for the thoughtful comments. When I created the title for Cycling Through Ed Tech, I did think of it as both a sharing of my bicycling hobby and the cycles that ed tech will go through as I continue to blog. So there is a play on words that gives me some leeway on what I blog about.

    Do you have your own blog? I’d be interested in reading it.

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