Comments (86)

Comment RSS
Veteran Public High School Teacher Who Didn't Flee The Classroom

Thanks for the shout

Was this helpful?
0

Thanks for the shout out/validation. I'm not opposed to innovation and sensible, practical tweaking of methodology, but I absolutely oppose consultant's attempts to completely overhaul the entire classroom process and create overindulged students who cannot endure anything speaker centered because they've been told they shouldn't like it. I appreciate reading about your experiences, as well as the opinions of those here with whom I respectfully disagree.

I find it disturbing and ironic that so many advocates of Differentiation (which has SOME merit) are the very ones who are so quick to impose what they consider the best method(s). Lecture/DISCUSSION has its place. My reading of these posts indicate that even many of these Edutopians concede that point.

Balance, people. Balance. No reckless change for the sake of change.

Middle School Educator

Thank you, Ben Johnson, for

Was this helpful?
+1

Thank you, Ben Johnson, for the provocative post. I greatly appreciate your statement, “All of this is good but great teachers engineer learning experiences that maneuver the students into the driver's seat and then the teachers get out of the way.” This is open-ended idea for all our hard-working, dedicated educators out there, in that the diversity of our learners requires diversified strategies to get students ‘doing,’ including traditional methods.

HumanImprint Quote: ”I LECTURE! ALOT! With that being said, my students are made a part of the conversation and for that, they walk away realizing that, "Hey, lectures are not all that bad after all."”

As we move to our “21st century skills,” which are really all the lifelong skills we have tried to instill in our students since the beginning of time, our students and the tools we use are ever changing. Critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving, and communicating are the intended outcome across the content areas, yet there is a drive to continue with practices that don’t engage students to develop these skills. I would challenge full-time lecturers to quantify how students are engaged and interactively manipulating and understanding information to truly be able to use that knowledge throughout their lives. In the end, it is what we are able to motivate the students to do, not the information that we regurgitate that creates these 21st century learners.

I also don’t think we can overlook the changes in generational thinking and learning. With advances in resources and access to technology, the new iGeners learn in a whole different way than previous generations. The greatest act of ageism is to react negatively to the next generation of students who expect innovation, creativity, and individualization of their world.

I understand the disagreement with the statement “great teachers do not teach,” because of the definitive nature of the words. In fact, teachers that inspire, collaborate, learn alongside, encourage, and facilitate are ‘teaching,’ just not through traditional methods of instruction but varied and engaging models. It’s not about the next best tool, or the oldest model of instruction, but it’s about what students are doing with their knowledge that matters most. I would recommend checking out “Motivation, Engagement, and Student Voice” by Toshalis and Nakkula. The “focus on the verbs,” as Prensky would highlight, is what this text explores. “Motivation, engagement, and voice are the trifecta of student-centered learning. Without motivation, there is no push to learn; without engagement there is no way to learn; and without voice, there is no authenticity in the learning. For students to create new knowledge, succeed academically, and develop into healthy adults, they require each of these experiences.”

How do traditional instructional strategies help students engage in learning?

How do we accommodate a new generation of learners who don’t know a world without creativity and innovation without changing our methods?

Is it more important for educators to meet the needs of the students by diversifying or meet the standardized tests?

It's All Theater...

Was this helpful?
+1

In business, people love stories.

In school, students love stories.

Administrator, author and educator

HumanImprint: Thank you for

Was this helpful?
+1

HumanImprint:

Thank you for your comments. We agree that knowledge has to come first. We also agree that teachers have many methods and strategies besides lecture to get that knowledge into the student's brains. We also agree that the strategies must fit the particular style and personality of the teacher, and the needs of the students. Finally, we also agree that in order for students to internalize and acquire knowledge, students must be able to do something with that knowledge. What we disagree on is that students learn best from listening to teachers talk. They learn best from taking knowledge recently introduced to them and interacting with it: experiencing it, experimenting with it and discovering it. Students need three opportunities to engage with knowledge before we can say they know it, or before we can say with confidence they will remember it. Madeline Hunter's direct teach model illustrates this abundantly. It is a great model and if all teacher-centered teachers used it, like Dr. Schmoker explains in his book, "Focus" students would be learning much better. Direct teach may be more time effective for the teacher, and to start off learning there has to be some, but to immerse students in learning experiences that are relevant and urgent- requiring that students produce something pushes that knowledge into permanent memory like no lecture can. The "locale" memory system is engaged and students remember( Learn). Even Marzano states that teaching is a science and an art and that rigor can and does exist in both. In learning, the student must be the protagonist, not the product. We disagree that lecture is the most effective way for students to learn. It may be the most convenient, but taking notes on a lecture cannot be the sum of how students learn. I attended a p20 summit last week in which executive from Toyota, Rackspace and other businesses shared their concerns. Rackspace said that they need programmers that know how to collaborate well with others... And they must know how to learn... Because the language they know now will be outdated in six months. Toyota said that schools have to prepare students for jobs that don't even exist and the hardest jobs for them to fill are the jobs that require expertise in problem solving ( people who can fix the robots, parts conveyors and cooling systems). Unanimously, all four business executives stated that schools are fossilized and not producing the kinds of workers they need.

If you want to know the effect of lectures, simply ask the students. They will tell you how ineffective they are. They can also tell teachers what they need, what they hate and what engages them most.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and keep striving to be the best possible teacher!

Sincerely,
Ben Johnson
San Antonio, Texas

[quote]"Call me a fossil (I'm sure some will), but you can't effectively think critically about something BEFORE YOU'VE LEARNED IT. And the process of learning must sometimes be teacher-directed."Fossils leave the best impressions. I am a young teacher of 8 years, but what I do know and observe is that there is a fine line between lazy pedagogy and student centered learning. I also disagree with the title that good teachers do not teach. I consider myself to be a very good teacher, one that breaks information down and curates information that students can use to further the discussion.I LECTURE! ALOT!With that being said, my students are made a part of the conversation and for that, they walk away realizing that, "Hey, lectures are not all that bad after all." I get it all the time.I have seen project based teachers try to implement this strategy and only end up frustrating the students because there are too many doors and little direction. To make project based learning meaningful and appropriate for every single kid in the class, the projects need to be approached as independent study, with different rubrics to grade the material AND content. I can not assess a student who makes an iMovie the same as one who makes a poster-board presentation.I also think it is a bit of a utopia that you speak of in saying that every kid will WANT to be empowered with their education. I agree with Edwinivich when he/she said that content knowledge takes precedent, and is it so bad that we teach a kid how to sit and listen? I am not anti-project, but I do know that I have TOO much information to get through in a school year to even dream about making a majority of my lessons project based. I can just hear the complaints now from parents and kids alike, that projects did not help them on the test that they paid 90.00 for, because I wanted them to figure it out on their own. The logistics of providing 1:1 instruction in a classroom of 32+ is daunting!I would love to hear your specific suggestions on how I can tackle the problem of not having 31 teacher's assistants in the room. And please, don't tell me to go read a book and figure it out on my own. Sometimes it is better if someone JUST TELL ME![/quote]

High School Social Science Teacher

"Call me a fossil (I'm sure

Was this helpful?
+2

"Call me a fossil (I'm sure some will), but you can't effectively think critically about something BEFORE YOU'VE LEARNED IT. And the process of learning must sometimes be teacher-directed."

Fossils leave the best impressions. I am a young teacher of 8 years, but what I do know and observe is that there is a fine line between lazy pedagogy and student centered learning. I also disagree with the title that good teachers do not teach. I consider myself to be a very good teacher, one that breaks information down and curates information that students can use to further the discussion.
I LECTURE! ALOT!
With that being said, my students are made a part of the conversation and for that, they walk away realizing that, "Hey, lectures are not all that bad after all." I get it all the time.

I have seen project based teachers try to implement this strategy and only end up frustrating the students because there are too many doors and little direction. To make project based learning meaningful and appropriate for every single kid in the class, the projects need to be approached as independent study, with different rubrics to grade the material AND content. I can not assess a student who makes an iMovie the same as one who makes a poster-board presentation.
I also think it is a bit of a utopia that you speak of in saying that every kid will WANT to be empowered with their education. I agree with Edwinivich when he/she said that content knowledge takes precedent, and is it so bad that we teach a kid how to sit and listen? I am not anti-project, but I do know that I have TOO much information to get through in a school year to even dream about making a majority of my lessons project based. I can just hear the complaints now from parents and kids alike, that projects did not help them on the test that they paid 90.00 for, because I wanted them to figure it out on their own. The logistics of providing 1:1 instruction in a classroom of 32+ is daunting!
I would love to hear your specific suggestions on how I can tackle the problem of not having 31 teacher's assistants in the room. And please, don't tell me to go read a book and figure it out on my own. Sometimes it is better if someone JUST TELL ME!

Social media for e-learning & technology

Thank you Ben for this

Was this helpful?
0

Thank you Ben for this interesting conversation.
Regards,
Margarita

Kiwi teaching grade 8 science in Doha, Qatar

A teacher's preferred teaching method will no suit ever students

Was this helpful?
0

I am from NZ and teach grade 8 science overseas. I used to teach in a "traditional" way but in the last 15 years it has evolved into a more hands off style. Every year for the last 15 years, I have been accused of not teaching by both students and parents. My teaching style is non-traditional yet my students learn - feedback from students in high school attest to this. I am the "sage on the stage" sometimes but prefer to have the students learn at their own pace rather than the more traditional "stand + deliver" to the entire class at once.

To me, learning in the 21st century is not just having students regurgitate what we have gone over in class or read in the textbook. Learning changed when technology became so readily accessible. For me, learning today is about gaining the skills to find the information you want to know and problem solve. In order to gain those skills, students have to do it which is why I more often than not, prefer to facilitate learning rather than deliver it.

I feel I do my best teaching when students ask clarifying questions - I simply say "if you don't understand ..... OR If you cannot answer this question.... then come over here and we will go over it". The students who need the help are expected to move to one area of the room to get the help they need - the rest of the class carries on with their own learning.

Every year I do my own end of year survey - this is different to the one the school has me do. It is more about my style of teaching. Some students loved it when I "flipped" the class at one point this year while others really disliked it. Some said "tell me what to learn", some want all class discussions. The one thing that comes through loud and clear every year - no one method or tool suits every student. I think we as teachers need to remember this.

Veteran Public High School Teacher Who Didn't Flee The Classroom

Thank you Mr Johnson for your

Was this helpful?
+4

Thank you Mr Johnson for your thoughtful response, and thank you Edutopia for not shutting traditional viewpoints out of this important and necessary debate.

This is a huge issue that has not been properly framed. How do we engage and motivate students without overindulging (providing kids with constant and immediate brain candy) and constantly "entertaining?" At some point in the educational process, there come moments where teachers must - EEK- teach, and info must be transmitted/demonstrated - where competent master teachers MUST BE THE SAGE ON THE STAGE! Pretending otherwise does a disservice and is disingenuous.

If you do what what so many perhaps well intentioned reformers seem to be advocating (Seriously? Good teachers don't teach? I see somebody modified that tweet) in a hyper progressive way, you run the risk of creating students who are largely incapable of content and skill acquisition - some of which is not necessarily fun or "engaging." Call me a fossil (I'm sure some will), but you can't effectively think critically about something BEFORE YOU'VE LEARNED IT. And the process of learning must sometimes be teacher-directed. Rigor can be both painful and good. Fun for the sake of fun is counter-educational.

You and others argue that some students will drop out if there's too much (or any?) rigor and lecture. So let's completely overhaul education to accommodate (coddle) those kids (many of whom will still leave school)? I call: "Reckless!" Students drop out for many reasons, despite your side's eagerness to attribute it to "boring" teachers who unapologetically utilize lecture/discussion as an instructional technique.

Besides, I'm NOT reluctant to utilize methods which will genuinely - rather than cosmetically - bring about student initiative and curiosity, or what so many in the most recent phase of the ed reform movement vaguely label "engagement." The evidence is not, as you say, "incontrovertible." And it indicates little regarding how traditional learners are impacted by the overhaul your side is advocating - and treating as an educational absolute truth.

Some other responses to your well-presented comments:

Isn't it possible that the reason 80% of jr college students need remediation is because of the very methodology ("progressive," student-centered, sampler platter differentiated, often fun rather than rigorous) that YOU espouse?

I've read Schmoker's books. I don't consider him to be an advocate of the progressive approach. Maybe I misread him.

I will continue to "denigrate" those who over simplistically try to overhaul what can and does work, and who say test scores don't matter while using those same test scores to undermine teachers who do not instruct cherry picked charter school students.

A total "all in" commitment to pure progressive methodology could just as easily result in even worse educational outcomes. I can meet you at some pedogogical middle ground and concede that there should be a sensible balance. I CAN get there. Can you? Can Mr Lucas?

Administrator, author and educator

Sage on the Stage

Was this helpful?
+1

Dear Edwinovich.

First of all, I thank you for taking the time first to read my blog, and secondly for expressing your opinion so passionately.

I am grateful for your many years of service to students and your obvious dedication to the profession of education. You and I have seen the changes in public education and have been dismayed by swings of the pendulum of pedagogical fads. I understand your anger directed towards educational charlatans that indeed have left the classroom for greener pastures (easier and more lucrative). I assure you that I am not one of them. I do not understand your reluctance to ignite and fan the flames of student initiative, curiosity and experiential learning when the research that supports constructivist practices is voluminous and incontrovertible.

This does not mean that there is no place for direct instruction from a master teacher like yourself. But long lasting learning happens after learning the content and student are able to manipulate, merge and engage in thoughtful analysis, critical thinking and creative thinking. These are things the teacher cannot give to the student--they must do it themselves.

If you are the thoughtful educator I think you are, then I am surprised that you might have succumbed to the pessimistic narrow-mindedness of teaching to test. Pressure to perform has always been a part of public education, but it has never stopped a dedicated teacher from exerting their best efforts and using the best strategies in behalf of their students. You most likely believe that that this is what you are doing.

Students drop out of school in droves because of the teacher-centered ideology you espouse; after all it worked for you, your parents and your grandparents. Charter schools, alternative schools and home schools are thriving on students unable to stomach the lock-step, "wait for me to tell you" rigidness of "sage on the stage mentality." Your vaunted teacher-centered instruction does so well that 80% of community college students must take remediation courses their first year.

I invite you to read three books: "Why Students Don't Like School", by Dr. Daniel Willingham a cognitive scientist, "Results Now " by Dr. Michael Schmoker, an my book, "Teaching Students to Dig Deeper: The Common Core in Action"

Like you I am doing everything in my power to help students learn. I, and many other teacher supporters, think it is time to work smarter as educators instead of doing the same thing that isn't working that well and isn't enjoyable for students. We are on the same team and there is no need to denigrate or demean my efforts.

Most importantly, you are doing what it takes to broaden your understanding of a more holistic way of helping students learn by spending time on the most progressive, project-based, and non-teacher centered website; Edutopia.org. You should read what the Founder of Edutopia, George Lucas, has to say about his experience with teacher-centered learning, and why he wanted to start Edutopia.

I wish you the best and sincerely hope that this summer will allow you to rest and recuperate so that you can continue to inspire your students.

Best Regards,
Ben Johnson
San Antonio, Texas

[quote]With respect, the author reads like yet another classroom fleeing educrat/ consultant who wants to turn the classroom into a Dave & Buster's arcade, relegate master teachers to mere facilitator status (guide on the side rather than sage on the stage - gag), and disregards the VERY REAL pressure of test score components in current teacher evaluations.Such an approach also runs counter to the educational theory (also flawed) of - buzzword alert: Differentiation! Are there some students who benefit from what Mr Johnson is advocating? Probably. Are there some (many?) students who absolutely thrive in a traditional teacher-centered classroom approach? Yes! Establish rapport, establish credibility, and teach. There is NOTHING wrong with utilizing lecture/discussion methodology - if implemented properly and competently.Are the nations that are beating us academically (although it MUST be pointed out that those societies make NO attempt to educate EVERYBODY, unlike the US) featuring this overly student centered approach? For the most part, they are not. And what Mr Johnson is describing here is possible ONLY AFTER SOME TYPE OF NON STUDENT CENTERED CONTENT TRANSFER HAS TAKEN PLACE!!!Also: I'm willing to speculate that when Mr Johnson presents this theory of methodology (for which I suspect he's well compensated), he utilizes speaker centered, lecture style techniques to "impart" it.[/quote]

Amanda: I completely agree

Was this helpful?
0

Amanda:

I completely agree with you. I know we talked alot about inquiry based learning in our science methods class and I feel it is a great way to get students to question their learning/material. I also agree that when students are discovering they are engaged in their learning and in turn makes you a better teacher.

see more see less