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and doubt; to get knowledge as a synthesis of the path and not from the textbook as knowledge-sided, repetitive, outdated and out of context and meaning of each learner and the same teacher.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.