Sunday, July 14, 2013

Technology & Specialization - How To Cultivate Master Teachers?

Source: Washington Post, ASIDE
As more and more states opt out of the Common Core requirements, the question mark looming over U.S. education grows more and more daunting. Each evening our Twitter PLN lights up with creative ideas about project-based learning, flipped engagement, and BYOD flexibility. But these are not the national norms. The morning news, in fact, registers exactly the opposite, with more and more stories about regrettable school closures, bungled teacher ratings, and bubble-sheet scandals.

The coast-to-coast consensus on a direction for student learning seems as unattainable as ever. Public, parochial, independent, charter, and home school options are all good-faith models of teaching and learning. But it's like the debate over school vouchers -- with so many options, who is being left behind?

The Common Core initiatives at their best are attempts to elevate skill expectations and to implement desired outcomes across the country. At their worst, however, these new standards simply replace old standards. One size still fits all, and rote testing becomes both the symptom and the prescription for the lingering malaise.


We recently came across a motion graphic from Public Impact, made in conjunction with Column Five Media, which offers several novel proposals for upending America's schools. These suggestions differ by focusing on the teacher. They imagine how the best educators could apply their training and their time to best effect. We don't yet know much about Public Impact as an organization, and we're trying to read up more about the group's point of view. The Advisory Team does feature some respected names, and as a stand-alone video, the clip presents notions worth considering.

Source: Public Impact

A few of the stated aims include:
  • Specialization - where the single-teacher, contained elementary classroom is broken apart
  • Multi-Classroom Leadership - where teacher-leaders are encouraged to guide bottom-up teams
  • Time-Technology Swaps - where the flipped or MOOC model is brought back into the classroom to maximize teacher time allocation
According to Public Impact, these changes could instill an "Opportunity Culture," which would subsequently lead to higher salaries. We like this scheme more than, say, the "Teachers Pay Teachers" construct, which turns educators into corporations. Some of the Opportunity Culture details do seem still in the conceptual phase. It's also unclear how exactly a small handful of teachers would be labeled "expert" among the larger pool of "other" teachers. But as fuel for the continued educational discussion, these propositions seem worth adding to the fire.

For other resources, please check out the following:

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