How do teachers become facilitators? | Edutopia
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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

How do teachers become facilitators?

How do teachers become facilitators?

Related Tags: Project-Based Learning
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I'm really interested in how project learning changes the traditional role of teachers. Now they must not only lecture, but also facilitate group work and deal with group dynamics. What secrets of success have you found?

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Armando Di-Finizio's picture
Armando Di-Finizio
Principal of a Secondary School in Bristol, UK

This has perhaps been the hardest thing we have faced in our long journey towards creating PBL school. Teachers are used to being the arbiter of all knowledge, behind closed doors in their classroom, but obviously the technology revolution happening all around us has meant that the teacher no longer has the monopoly on information. In my opinion this is a good thing because it refocus our profession towards what makes us professionals - i.e. our understanding of pedagogy; how people learn.
Taking teachers out of their silos (subject areas) and putting them into a multi-discipled setting where their main role is facilitation is a scary notion to say the least for many teachers. Teachers need differentiation like students. Many thrived in a facilitation role in our school, but many more are struggling. This week we have introduced a script/crib sheet for teachers lacking confidence to follow. I will post this on my blog site in a few days (I have not kept this up to date recently, but if you read it in a few days you will be able to find out more about what we are doing). Hopefully this will help. Team teaching has also helped us; linking confident teachers with those less confident. In the UK we practice 'Assessment For Learning'. The core of this is around good questioning techniques. We have spent a lot of professional development time on this to some effect, but there's still a long way to go. The blog site is: Best wishes

Malaika Costello-Dougherty's picture
Malaika Costello-Dougherty
Former senior editor at Edutopia.

Hi Armando,

Thanks for posting your thoughts. It's great to know there's project learning schools in England. I appreciate how you document what's difficult. I'm looking forward to other Edutopia community members suggestions on how they deal with this challenge.

My best,


Steve Barkley's picture
Steve Barkley

I've been doing lots of classroom observations lately... setting up opportunities for teacher to observe students learning in other teachers' classrooms. A personal discovery... in AP classes where teachers did not know the solution to the problem being explored, it was easier for the teacher to be facilitator.... I think that is the value of real problems for PBL... then teachers don't have an answer it is easier to model key learning behaviors.

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