Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Una crónica del evento 1.edu apropiación y desarrollo: modelos 1 a 1

El pasado 7 de mayo participamos con AIRE digital en la presentación de la ponencia "Experiencia Esconectar: una instancia 1 a 1 de Capacitación Docente". Nuestro colega Carlos Gonzalez Ruiz comparte en el portal Ineverycrea un resumen del evento y palabras muy generosas para nuestra presentación.

Una crónica del evento 1.edu apropiación y desarrollo: modelos 1 a 1: El pasado lunes y martes (7 y 8 de mayo) tuve la oportunidad de asistir al evento 1 a1 edu. Apropiación y desarrollo, el cual se encuentra inmerso dentro de la semana del modelo 1 a 1 que mostré la semana pasada. Se desarrolló en la torre de telecomunicaciones de Antel, que es la empresa de telecomunicaciones estatal de la república Oriental del Uruguay. La semana del 1 a 1, que enmarca la realización del 1.edu fue declarada de interés ministerial por el Ministerio de Educación y Cultura.Desde q...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Music is not in the piano

Some time ago I heard someone say we are living in "interesting times for teachers." Definitely! Never before have I seen educational issues discussed and debated in such a way. Of course we have a tool we did not have before: technology. This allows us to connect with colleagues, working and learning together, sharing what we are doing, how we do it and the results we are getting.

But technology is not just a means of communication, it is present in everybody's daily life and schools cannot ignore this. It now stands at the classroom's door trying to enter and become a powerful partner. Technology is not just an incredible collection of relevant information updated to the minute. It allows us to connect what happens in school with the real world, contributing to the significance and purpose of what happens in the classroom.

A common mistake is to think that by filling schools with machines and training teachers in office software and other desktop tools, appropriation will happen. Not true!  The product is just more of the same with a different format. This will just turn content into multimedia. The fundamental change we seek is methodological / pedagogical. This has to do with what and how we think, which in turn models what we bring into the classroom. 

We need to unlearn the role "carved" in teacher training college, to leave the comfort zone accommodated by many years in front of students. We need to plunge into the unknown, sparkle doubt and curiosity. To move away from absolute control  with predictable answers and learn to cope with uncertainty, the unexpected and unplanned responses. We need to understand that today, we build knowledge in collaboration with others, bringing in open questions, giving space for students´effervescence.

Caballero[1] states, "This is not to change curricula and cross them, or scan the same content and turn it into multimedia, this is more of the same, it comes from inquiry, exploration and doubt; to get knowledge as a synthesis of the path and not from the textbook as knowledge-sided, repetitive, outdated and out of context and meaning of each learner and the same teacher. "

If we expect teachers to integrate technology to their classrooms it is fundamental to train them, to give them opportunities to experience, to build spaces for reflection; sharing, and learning from mistakes . Teachers need 1 @ 1 training to be able to replicate this in their classroom. This will enable them to develop new confidence in the role that society needs teachers to play today. We need to be ready to ask new questions, foster new solutions and views.

Just as music is not in the piano but in the head and emotion of the musician; the change we hope to accomplish is not in the machines but in teachers´ head and soul.

[1] Caballero Sybil (dic 2011) Educar en clave de XO: La Transpedagogía, una estrategia para el desarrollo. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

High expectations on the part of the teacher, regular feeedback, praise for work and effective classroom discipline have been shown to be associated with students’ positive attitudes towards school and education. Most educationalists are aware of the importance of these factors. Research shows that many teachers are not lavish with praise. It seems clear that there is a need for action which will encourage and enable teachers to make more use of these strategies. High expectations, regular feedback, and praise for good work, have shown to be associated with students’ positive attitudes towards school.

Research has shown students like lessons where they can make things, and many prefer lessons where they have discusions, to lessons where they have to work on their own. Activities which promote students involved in their own learning, building upon their preferences for co-opearative and practical work and discussions help remotivate bored and disaffected students.

Teaching is a complex process that can be conceptualised in many different ways. One metaphore that acknowledges the intentional, problem solving aspects of teachers’ work is that teaching is a reflective thinking activity. Teaching involves skilful action that is adapted to its context. Teachers posses a body of specialised knowledge acquired through training and experience. They posses knowledge about: curriculum, teaching methods, subject matter, and child behaviour.

Findings demonstrate that, expectations teachers have for their pupils can influence the children’s future academic performance and self esteem. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thinking in a loud voice back in 1998

As I was trying to "organise" all the files I have in my desk PC, I found this paper I wrote back in 1998 for a course I was attending. It feels strange to read what I thought and read back then...  The idea of computers in classrooms was science fiction for me at that time still, some ideas hold true. 

My generation stands in awe as we see how much things change, mainly regarding technology and communications. Life has become so accelerated that changes are outdated before we can truly understand them and integrate them into our lives. 

Immersed in this situation schools and teachers are facing complex questions: What should schools teach? What knowledge is essential? What knowledge will be most needed when our students leave school? Schools and teachers have a very important challenge ahead; provide our students with tools in order for them to live intelligently in today’s world and become  useful members of society. John Holt in his book “ How children fail” (1964) sustained “Since we can’t know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned”

We could start by doing away with certain ideas which have governed our schools for many decades such as the notion of a curriculum as a body of essential knowledge which everybody should know in order to be considered educated. As Holt sustains “The idea of the curriculum would not be valid even if we could agree on what ought to be in it. For knowledge itself changes... Moreover, schools today cannot possibly judge what knowledge will be most needed forty, or twenty or even two years from now.”

Another aspect teachers could consider is what happens to our student's innate desire to learn, it is lost before they are halfway through their primary school. Peter Senge suggests that "the social and organisational structure in which we are brought up shifts our "natural" generative learning abilities into adaptive learning skills ... predestining them to mediocre performance."  Senge introduces the concept of Learning Organisation and five disciplines, system thinking, personal mastery, mental models, building shared vision and team learning. In his book "The Fifth Discipline" he describes a learning organisation as a place where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where people are continually learning how to learn together. Systems thinking is the framework, a body of knowledge and tools to help us see how to change things effectively. Personal mastery is the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies and of seeing reality objectively. Mental models are the deeply ingrained assumptions, generalisations or images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action. Building shared vision is the practice of developing skills to share pictures of the future which will foster genuine commitment and enrolment rather than compliance. And team building starts with dialogue so as to enter into a genuine thinking together, this is vital as teams, not individuals, are the fundamental learning unit in modern organisations. In a learning organization with such characteristics  learning would not just be taking in new information but expanding our aptitudes so as to produce the changes we want.

One of the greatest challenges to schools today, is to develop an ethic of continuous improvement among staff, teachers and students. If all these groups keep looking for improvement, the accumulation of these actions will lead to the improved education that we all seek. Continuous improvement is a difficult concept to implant, it requires extra time and effort. But what can be gained from this is the pride and sense of accomplishment and feeling responsible for its outcome: empowerment. According to Peters (1973) “to be educated is not to have arrived at a destination; it is to travel with a different view”, Byham sustains that “improved education is a destination, and continuous improvement is the road to that destination, a never ending road. Empowerment is the engine that moves people along on this road". People are motivated to make continuous improvements because they enjoy the sense of pride they obtain from their accomplishments, it also improves quality of life. Empowered individuals regard work and learning as interesting, challenging and rewarding. Dewey said that “the purpose of education is to allow each individual to come into full possession of his or her personal power” thus we must prepare students to achieve and develop the self confidence needed to handle the hurdles they will encounter in their lives beyond the classroom. 

Teachers need to have the skills to empower, but before they can do so, teachers themselves must be empowered.