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BombBomb is hands down the best way to upgrade your email game

We believe in thanking our sources! This post was sourced from the following blog/website: http://ilearntechnology.com/wordpress/?p=5932

The following is a new blog post related to education and teaching and relevant to our website visitors. The blog post is not based on the opinions or values of our company but is related to education and teaching, so we wanted to share it with YOU! If you ever have any questions please let us know. Now… on to the post!

What it is: BombBomb is an email service that lets you record and embed video directly in your email. That is a totally oversimplified explanation because BombBomb does SO much more. This is one of those pieces of technology that has been life-saving for me during the pandemic and one that I will continue using forevermore! In addition to easily adding video to your email, you can add images, button-type navigation, build and send forms right in BombBomb, and even create automations. BombBomb shows you who opened your email and what they clicked/engaged/watched while they were there.

How to integrate BombBomb into the classroom: During the pandemic, BombBomb has been an incredible way for us to communicate and keep connected to our students and their families. Each day we were in remote learning, I sent a daily email with a video message for the community, links to all of our teacher’s daily plans, links to tech-support, and a daily check-in survey so parents could share how remote learning was going in their house. At Anastasis, we start every day with a whole-community meeting. Obviously, 2020 wreaked havoc on that daily tradition. Since we couldn’t be together each morning, I recorded a video as if we were together. I invited the kids/families to send me content that would show up in future videos (Mindstamp helped with this as well!). In one email, families had access to all teacher’s plans for the day as well as a way to share feedback about what was going well or what they were struggling with. As the admin team received feedback about what families were struggling with, we could offer real-time immediate support. Any time a family shared something that was hard, we either adjusted or contacted them to support them. BombBomb made this process seamless for us! Because we could see who was opening and interacting with each portion of the email, we knew we had a high level of engagement and could see what was and wasn’t working well even for families who didn’t fill out our survey each day.

BombBomb is a great way to provide video feedback for your students while you are remote. You can use the screencast tool to walk them through the work they submitted with your comments and suggestions.

We are currently back to in-person learning, but I’m still using BombBomb to send my weekly newsletter. I’ve never been one who loves recording video (I wouldn’t say I love it now…but it has gotten SO much easier), I prefer writing, but I have to say families seem to love the video content. Parents who are not inclined to read the weekly newsletter seem more inclined to watch a 2-minute video update. That makes all our lives easier! I’ve also noticed that parents seem more connected and likely to interact when they see me on video than a written message alone.

As a teacher in the classroom, BombBomb would be a great way to flip your classroom and send students videos tailored to what they are learning. Because you have a built-in video library, email library, form library, and the ability to automate, you could set this up one year and continue using it year after year! You don’t have to record all of your video content, you can also import videos from a link expanding the content available about a million fold. BombBomb also allows you to screencast directly from email making it a great way to send support to students.

If you teach young students or students who don’t have their own email, you can still use BombBomb to create video content and related links (seriously, it’s almost like having the ability to create mini-websites). BombBomb gives you a share link for every email you create so you can share it with students as a link or even create QR codes that link to the email you created. At Anastasis, we individualize for every student every day. A lot of our independent learning is set up as center rotations with one of the centers always being one-on-one with the teacher. With BombBomb you could record yourself explaining the center, and include any other links or information that students may need. You could also create a form that acts as an exit ticket for that center rotation. If you have a mobile device or Chromebook at the center, it’s almost like having you right there with them. Again, with the email/video/form library you could create this one year and keep using it over and over. The analytics help you see how students are interacting (how many times they viewed the video, what links they clicked on, etc.).

We’re an inquiry-based school. This means that the kids are constantly doing research and digging deeper. The research process can be too much for our littles. Using BombBomb, teachers can break down that research process in video and provide guided research links.

BombBomb is also a major upgrade to email you are sending to parents. Imagine sending a quick video of something brilliant that their child did in class. Or, you could record a conferring session between you and their child so they can gain insight into your assessment process and student growth. You’ll be able to see which families are opening and interacting with your emails, and those who may need a different approach.

Tips: To help teachers through the pandemic, BombBomb is FREE for educators. You should sign up today, I truly cannot say enough good things about this platform!

Here’s an example of an email I sent out in prep for Giving Tuesday…see you really don’t have to be fancy with your videos, just record and share!

Time To Teach reviews each blog post by our contributors but if you feel this is a blog post better suited for another page please let us know. Teachers and Educators are our heroes. We want to thank you for the work you do! Yours In Education! Time To Teach

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Pictures, Wolves, and Code – The Week in Review

We believe in thanking our sources! This post was sourced from the following blog/website: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/freetech4teachers/cGEY/~3/oAnESFW_beg/pictures-wolves-and-code-week-in-review.html

The following is a new blog post related to education and teaching and relevant to our website visitors. The blog post is not based on the opinions or values of our company but is related to education and teaching, so we wanted to share it with YOU! If you ever have any questions please let us know. Now… on to the post!

Good morning from Maine where the sun is rising on what promises to be a fantastic Mother's Day weekend. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms that read my blog, especially my mom! We're doing some gardening this weekend. I hope that you have something fun planned for your weekend as well. 

This was another busy week as I tried to keep some balance between my full-time teaching job, keeping this blog going, hosting a webinar, and training for the Unbound Gravel 200 in early June. When summer finally gets here it will feel like a vacation to just have to worry about hosting the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. I hope you'll join me then. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Ten Good Tools for Telling Stories With Pictures
2. My Ten Favorite "Hidden" Office 365 Features
3. Ten Google Workspaces Features for Teachers You Might Be Overlooking
4. Five Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp FAQs
5. Blackbird Code - Overview and First Impressions from My Students
6. Wolves in My Yard and Penguins in My House! - Fun With Augmented Reality in Search
7. 7 Interesting Features You Can Add to Google Sites

On-demand Professional Development
Other Places to Follow Me:
  • The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter comes out every Sunday evening/ Monday morning. It features my favorite tip of the week and the week's most popular posts from Free Technology for Teachers.
  • My YouTube channel has more than 35,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fourteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • And if you're curious about my life outside of education, you can follow me on Instagram or Strava.
This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, TodayHeadline, and 711Web. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Time To Teach reviews each blog post by our contributors but if you feel this is a blog post better suited for another page please let us know. Teachers and Educators are our heroes. We want to thank you for the work you do! Yours In Education! Time To Teach

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The TeachThought Podcast Ep. 247 Creating Changemakers Through PBL

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The following is a new blog post related to education and teaching and relevant to our website visitors. The blog post is not based on the opinions or values of our company but is related to education and teaching, so we wanted to share it with YOU! If you ever have any questions please let us know. Now… on to the post!

The TeachThought Podcast Ep. 247 Creating Changemakers Through PBL

Drew Perkins talks with Leesa Carter-Jones, president and CEO of the Captain Planet Foundation, about their work to engage young people through project-based learning.

Links & Resources Mentioned In This Episode:

Listen and subscribe on your favorite podcast player including:

Also available on Google Music for subscribers!

Thank You For Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below! If you enjoyed this episode, please share it.

Also, please leave an honest review for The TeachThought Podcast!

Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and we read each and every one of them. If you have any questions please email us at grow@teachthought.com!

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The post The TeachThought Podcast Ep. 247 Creating Changemakers Through PBL appeared first on TeachThought.

Time To Teach reviews each blog post by our contributors but if you feel this is a blog post better suited for another page please let us know. Teachers and Educators are our heroes. We want to thank you for the work you do! Yours In Education! Time To Teach

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60 Critical Thinking Strategies For Learning

We believe in thanking our sources! This post was sourced from the following blog/website: https://www.teachthought.com/critical-thinking/critical-thinking-strategies-for-learning/

The following is a new blog post related to education and teaching and relevant to our website visitors. The blog post is not based on the opinions or values of our company but is related to education and teaching, so we wanted to share it with YOU! If you ever have any questions please let us know. Now… on to the post!

Critical Thinking Strategies For Learning

Critical thinking is the ongoing application of unbiased, accurate, and ‘good-faith’ analysis, interpretation, contextualizing, and synthesizing multiple data sources and cognitive perspectives in pursuit of understanding.

What are the 7 critical thinking strategies? Someone emailed me recently asking that question and I immediately wondered how many more than seven there were. 27? 77?

Infinity?

This is a post that’s going to have to be updated over time because do define, clarify, offer tips for and examples of each would be a short book.

But I did create a graphic and list many dozen to start with below (60 for now). I’ve also started adding some thinking for each but, as I mentioned, this will take time because it’s such an ambitious list (kind of like the Types of Questions post I did recently.) So, on with the list.

1. Analyze

One of the more basic critical thinking strategies is ‘analysis’: Identify the parts and see the relationships between those parts and how they contribute to the whole.

2. Interpret

Explain the significance or meaning of a ‘thing’ in a specific content or to a specific audience. Similar to ‘translate’ but (generally) with more cognitive demand.

3. Infer

Draw a reasonable conclusion based on the best available data. This critical thinking strategy is useful almost anywhere–from reading to playing a game to solving a problem in the real-world.

4. Use the Heick Domains Of Cognition Taxonomy

In fact, many of these strategies are built-in to the taxonomy.

5. Separate cause and effect

And concept map it–and maybe even consider prior causes to the most immediate causes and predict future possible effects. For example, if you’re considering an effect (e.g., pollution), you might see one cause being a new industrial factory built near a river or runoff. But you might also consider what enabled or ’caused’ that factory to be built–a zoning change or tax break given by the local government, for example.

6. Prioritize

Prioritizing is an executive neurological function that demands knowledge to then apply critical thinking to or on.

7. Deconstruct

And narrate or annotate the deconstruction. Deconstruct a skyscraper or a cultural movement or school or app. This is somewhere between analysis and reverse engineering.

8. Reverse Engineer

9. Write

Writing (well) is one of the most cognitively demanding things students commonly do. It’s also a wonderful strategy to promote critical thinking–a kind of vehicle to help it develop. Certainly one can write without thinking critically or think critically without writing but when they work together–in the form of a thinking journal, for example–the effects can be compelling.

10. Reflect

Observe and reflect is basic pattern for thought itself. The nature of the reflection, of course, determines if it’s actual a strategy for critical thinking but it’s certainly a worthy addition to this list.

11. Separate the subjective from the objective

And fact from opinion.

12. Be vigilant in distinguishing beliefs and facts or truths

To be able to think critically requires

Dewey described critical thinking as ‘reflective thinking’ (see #10)–the “active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it, and the further conclusions to which it tends.” (Dewey 1910: 6; 1933: 9) It’s clear that to be able to consistently do this requires one to separate beliefs (which are personal and fluid) and knowledge (which is more universal and less fluid–though the depth and nature of knowledge and understanding can change over time).

13. Link and Connect

This is somewhere between analysis and concept mapping, but seeing the relationship between things–ideas, trends, opportunities, problems–is not only useful as a strategy but is how the brain learns: by making connections.

14. Use formal and/or informal inquiry

15. Use the 5 Ws

A flexible strategy for inquiry and thought, the 5 Ws provides a kind of starting point for ongoing thought: who, what, where, why, and when.

16. Use spiral thinking

17. Concept map

18. Illustrate what’s known, currently unknown, and unknowable

This is part analysis, part epistemology.

19. Use Bloom’s Taxonomy

20. Apply informed skepticism

21. Use question and statement stems

22. Explore the history of an idea, stance, social norm, etc.

Especially change over time.

23. Debate

24. Analyze from multiple perspectives

25. Transfer

26. Patience

27. Adopt the right mindset

28. Humility

29. Judge

30. Study relationships

Between beliefs, observations, and facts, for example.

31. See ‘truth’ in degrees/non-binary

32. Improve something

33. Curiosity

Similar to inquiry but more a cause of inquiry than a strategy itself. Maybe. Kind of.

34. Creativity

35. Explore the nature of thinking and belief

This sets the stage for long-term critical thinking.

36. Separate people from their ideas

This isn’t necessarily a pure critical thinking strategy but it can reduce bias and encourage rationality and objective analysis.

37. Making some abstract concrete or something concrete abstract

38. Challenge something

39. Predict and defend

40. Form a question, then improve that question before gathering information

41. Revise a question after information/observation

42. Critique something

43. Observe something

While not actually ‘critical thinking,’ critical thinking rarely happens without it. It’s one (of many) fuels for ‘higher-order’ thinking.

44. Revise something

45. Transfer a lesson or philosophical stance from one situation to another

A lesson from nature to the design of a tool or solution to a problem.

46. Compare and contrast two or more things

47. Test the validity of a model

Or even create a basic mathematical model for predicting something–stocks, real-world probabilities, etc.

48. Create an analogy

This helps emphasize relationships, rules, and effects.

49. Adapt something for something new

A new function or audience or application, for example.

50. Identify underlying assumptions

51. Analyze the role of social norms on ‘truth’

Or even the nature of ‘truth’ itself.

52. Narrate a sequence

53. Identify first truths

54. Keep a thinking journal

55. Identify and explain a pattern

56. Study the relationship between text and subtext

Or explicit and implicit.

57. Elegantly emphasize the nuance of something

58. Identify cognitive biases and blindspots

59. Use model-based learning

I’ll provide a model for this soon but I’ve been using it with students for years.

60. Take and defend a position

Similar to debate but it can be one-sided, in writing, on a podcast, or even concept-mapped. It’s a simple strategy: specify a ‘stance’ and defend it with the best possible data and unbiased thinking

60 Critical Thinking Strategies For Learning

The post 60 Critical Thinking Strategies For Learning appeared first on TeachThought.

Time To Teach reviews each blog post by our contributors but if you feel this is a blog post better suited for another page please let us know. Teachers and Educators are our heroes. We want to thank you for the work you do! Yours In Education! Time To Teach

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Why Worrying About Screen Time Might Be The Wrong Approach

We believe in thanking our sources! This post was sourced from the following blog/website: https://www.teachthought.com/literacy/stop-worrying-about-screen-time/

The following is a new blog post related to education and teaching and relevant to our website visitors. The blog post is not based on the opinions or values of our company but is related to education and teaching, so we wanted to share it with YOU! If you ever have any questions please let us know. Now… on to the post!

Screen time.

Just the phrase tightens the chests of well-intentioned (and helicoptering) parents everywhere. Concerns range from our children becoming anti-social to developing addictions to certain games (I’m looking at you Fortnite), to screens preventing them from connecting with the physical spaces and people and opportunities around them.

As parents, we want balance, not necessarily because we know balance is best, but because we know that even if something is ultimately discovered to be terrible for the kids, we’ll be able to rest easy knowing they only had so much exposure. Balance is a kind of crude form of future-proofing –– we aren’t required to intricately understand the cause and effect of every factor; we can just recommend ‘balance’ and hope the factors we balance produce a healthy ecology.

The concept of ‘screen time’ exists in a world where screens are tools of identity, stages of curiosity and a constant need for information. Today, instead of each home having a single screen, it has five, and they’re mobile and do way, way more than televisions ever did. They blink and whir and update and multi-task and otherwise act as a user’s portal to the world.

Televisions were never this cool. In my home growing up, the primary screen time concern was sitting too close to the one television whose knobs you had to turn just to get Good Times or Knight Rider to come in properly. Do you want to be blind like your Uncle Dale? Scoot back, Mr Magoo. 

The telephone was the dominant form of interpersonal communication, and VCRs were kind of forward-thinking. If someone had handed you a tablet or smartphone when you were 8, it would have blown your mind. For children today, though, stunning mobile technology is the new normal. Yet how, and how much, children should be engaging with this new normal are questions that have not, until now, been addressed with any nuance.

Back in 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics released its recommendations for media use by children. The big idea, of course, is protecting children. In those earlier recommendations, AAP discouraged media use by any child younger than two years old. It said no to televisions in bedrooms. It warned about potential language delays in children watching television before their first birthday. It explained the need for ‘unstructured play time’ and learning ‘learning through play.’

And that was pretty much that. In 2013, AAP re-released the same guidelines, despite the fact that the iPad had been released three years earlier, and together with the smartphone revolution, had completely altered how users interact with digital media. Still, no changes.

Something finally got the AAP’s attention and pushed the group to take a longer look at its recommendations in the face of a culture increasingly fascinated with digital screens. As the organization rightly notes, “our policies must evolve or become obsolete.” But what requires evolving may, in the end, be less about time constraints for screens, and more about our perspective on how they help children learn.

play-highest-form-of-learning

What Is Play?

One of the mainstays in AAP’s recommendations over the years has been a call for ‘unstructured playtime,’ based on the idea that, “unstructured playtime stimulates creativity.” According to the group, parents should “prioritize daily unplugged playtime, especially for the very young.”

Fair enough–but it is also worth acknowledging that play comes in many forms. Play is a tone more than it is a specific activity. It centers the player, either as participant in a set of rules they agree to (like sport), or as the rule maker (kids inventing a game on a playground). Play is play because meaning is made in the mind of the player. And technology can provide endless opportunity for play, in part because of the characteristics of digital media.

Digital media have created a remix culture among users, where whimsy and idea sharing and memes and aliases and experimentation characterize every process and event. One of the greatest talents of digital media is to allow for unstructured play. The Sandbox, Minecraft, The Powder Game, The Sims, and dozens of other videos games and apps are designed as playspaces.

These are called ‘sandbox’ games, so named because they’re like a playground sandbox — a space for players to bring their own ideas. As in a real sandbox, there is less structure, and more possibility. Sandbox video games are filled with tools and possibilities, but leave the player to create their own experience. Any structure is there to promote creativity and experimentation. This is, undoubtedly, play.

Consider poet and naturalist Diane Ackerman’s definition of play in her wonderful book Deep Play. Ackerman explains:

“…play requires freedom. One chooses to play. Play’s rules may be enforced, but play is not like life’s other dramas. It happens outside ordinary life, and it requires freedom. But freedom alone doesn’t ensure a playful result…Players like to invent substitute worlds, more advantageous outcomes of events, supplemental versions of reality, other selves. Make-believe is at the heart of play, and also at the heart of much of what passes for work. Let’s make-believe we can shoot a rocket to the moon.”

While one doesn’t need a screen to imagine the moon, there is zero scientific evidence that suggests that screens mute one’s desire to go to the moon. Ackerman offers that when playing, “hallowed ground is usually outlined, so that it’s clearly set off from the rest of reality.” What could be more detached from the rest of reality than a colorful, digital facsimile–a blocky Minecraft world based only loosely on the rules and characteristics of the world around them, but close enough to make the user distinguish the rules between the two, and master each to their own advantage?

Our collective schema, as a culture, tends to see play as innocent, and technology as, at times, corrupting. We tend to visualize play as a child alone with blocks, mumbling as they talk themselves through a pretend event. Or maybe as a group of kids running in a field, or playing hide-and-seek. We’re a bit sentimental that way, and perhaps appropriately distrustful of the effect of anything new and poorly understood on our children—like technology. But all play events have built in rules and structure: A child “plays” hide-and-seek by participating in the rules. Same with tag, or blocks. They are both inspired and limited by the legacy of the game.

This is true of digital spaces as well; technology can be play.

The Transfer From Digital to Physical Spaces

Still, worrying about screen time is a legitimate concern. If children’s noses are pressed against little rectangular screens all day, their mindscape will be flooded with artifacts from the media consumed on those screens. They aren’t outside, connecting with their local community in the form of people or nature. They’re narrowing themselves, honing themselves for participation in a digital world, rather than the physical one that represents a fuller reality.

But as AAP seems to better understand today, the real question we should be asking is not just, how long are they watching? But also, what are they seeing? How is it affecting them? How does what they see challenge their existing beliefs? What sort of cognitive loads and higher order thinking skills do they volunteer themselves for with their online behavior? Do we want them being told a story from a book, or creating their own story in an digital universe where they’re in control? Which one more naturally creates thinking habits and behavioral shifts and skill acquisition that they can transfer to the real world?

These kinds of questions are notoriously difficult to understand and measure; it’s much easier to reduce our metrics to the most convenient one we can find: the ticking of a clock. But ultimately, the central issue regarding screens and children is less about the time they spend with them and more about the purpose and nuance of their digital interactions. I have a nephew who would rather play Fortnite than speak to any member of his family, exert himself physically, or create something with his hands. That worries me. This, though, has less to do with digital media, and more to do with the addictive nature of a single media form. Video games are designed to please. Not all media works that way.

As a means of addressing these issues, many educators have already called for a shift from consumption to production in the digital space–i.e., watch less, create more, starting in classrooms. Helping children understand how to transfer thinking and ideas from digital to physical spaces might also be a useful development. The more users can take ideas gained from idea expression (that is to say, a medium) into their physical context (IRL, or ‘in real life’), the more rational all the screen time seems.

But the best test we might have to evaluate the ‘appropriateness’ for any child in any situation might be, with a book, an app, a poem or a video game: “What are you doing, and why?” Citizenship is citizenship; digital citizenship can be considered a template for IRL Citizenship. While screen time certainly matters, focusing only on time is like developing a literacy program that focuses only on ‘minutes read.’

What about:

“What are you reading, and why?”

“What will you do with this reading experience?”

“What is reading doing to and for you?”

“What should you read or do next as a result?”

By modeling how and why people use digital media (e.g., to express ideas and connect with others), adults—parents, teachers, and family members alike—can help students think about the purpose of their behavior and the possibilities within their reach, and then consider those little glass interfaces in a more robust and authentic context. Then screen time becomes less of a problem, and more of a consumption strategy for a human being trying to understand the world.

Why Worrying About Screen Time Might Be The Wrong Approach

The post Why Worrying About Screen Time Might Be The Wrong Approach appeared first on TeachThought.

Time To Teach reviews each blog post by our contributors but if you feel this is a blog post better suited for another page please let us know. Teachers and Educators are our heroes. We want to thank you for the work you do! Yours In Education! Time To Teach

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What I’ve been up to: Silver Lining for Learning

We believe in thanking our sources! This post was sourced from the following blog/website: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/dangerouslyirrelevant/~3/Uo2mwA6R4F8/what-ive-been-up-to-silver-lining-for-learning.html

The following is a new blog post related to education and teaching and relevant to our website visitors. The blog post is not based on the opinions or values of our company but is related to education and teaching, so we wanted to share it with YOU! If you ever have any questions please let us know. Now… on to the post!

[I’ve been fairly quiet here during the pandemic. However, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been busy. I thought that I would share a little of what I’ve been doing for the past year…]

SLL title imageLast March about this time, Yong Zhao, Chris Dede, Punya Mishra, Curtis Bonk, Shuangye Chen, and I launched Silver Lining for Learning. The initiative was meant to highlight interesting technology-enabled learning around the world and to spark some discussions about schooling possibilities during the pandemic and afterward. Although I bowed out after Episode 32 due to other commitments, my colleagues have done an absolutely fantastic job of keeping the dialogues going.

Below is a list of the first year’s worth of episodes. You will see that Silver Lining for Learning has addressed a wide range of topics. One of the strengths of the project is its incredible global emphasis and reach. If you want to learn from and interact with other educational innovators around the world – and hear about some really interesting learning and teaching happening elsewhere – Silver Lining is a wonderful place to start. I love that numerous guest bloggers have been willing to share their experiences as well.

The site just got a new look for Year 2, and Yong, Chris, Punya, Curt, and Shuangye do an excellent job of sparking rich conversation with their inspiring guests. I am honored to have helped launch this initiative and hope that you will subscribe to the blog and join the hosts for their weekly discussions (which also are archived for later viewing). 

Year 1 Episodes

Time To Teach reviews each blog post by our contributors but if you feel this is a blog post better suited for another page please let us know. Teachers and Educators are our heroes. We want to thank you for the work you do! Yours In Education! Time To Teach

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On Teachers And Teaching And The Essential Criticism Of It All

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The following is a new blog post related to education and teaching and relevant to our website visitors. The blog post is not based on the opinions or values of our company but is related to education and teaching, so we wanted to share it with YOU! If you ever have any questions please let us know. Now… on to the post!

In 2015 (and updated most recently in 2018), I wrote a post about helping students learn more from ‘others’ than they do from you (the teacher).

The general premise is that modern learning is, in large part, about access, networks, spaces, and personalization–and there’s simply no way for a single teacher to ‘do’ this. In fact, it’s important to note that teaching, as it is, has never been sustainable. Public education promises too much and places far too large of a burden on classroom teachers who do their best to fulfill those ‘promises’ while protecting and nurturing children and it simply doesn’t really work well for anyone.

I suppose it could be argued that it does, in fact, work well but we’d have to simply agree to disagree at that point–which is okay. It takes a mosaic of perspectives to make the world go.

Recently, I updated that post and shared it on social media and was surprised to immediately get urgent, stinging pushback.

Carl Marks (alias? He is a history teacher, after all if his username can be decoded) used emojis to convey his disagreement.

Liane got straight to the point with a full-on dismissal of both the idea and of TeachThought as an organization–and ended with drip of sarcasm on the way out.

This one from Anthony Jones wasn’t mean-spirited but concisely refutes the post.

This response from Sunne of York was less even-handed:

Below, Brendan asked for research and evidence to support the ideas in the post:

Fair enough. I can’t support each item with recent, peer-reviewed and credible research. That’s true. But the general premise that teachers are over-worked and that children (generally) have incredible access to more information than ever and that somehow the latter could help improve the former hopefully doesn’t need supported with research.

The whole idea here is to connect students with an ecosystem of information, inspiration, people, and ideas. And that these ideas and opportunities and places and people and ideas should be more ‘impactful’ and ‘compelling’ than a single teacher.

That can’t possibly be controversial, can it?

Are Teachers ‘Bottlenecks’ Or Are They ‘Overworked’ And What’s The Difference?

In the introduction, I set the context:

“Who or what is the most persistent catalyst in the process of learning? Frequently, it’s probably you (the teacher). You’re the expert on both content and pedagogy. You know what’s being learned, and how it might be best learned. Giving students full autonomy in their own learning might be fine for motivation, but that can be a problem for a variety of reasons. The teacher is finite. The teacher is limited. The teacher has ‘self-bias’–sees things from their point-of-view no matter how hard they try to show empathy. In a teacher-centered classroom, the teacher is the bottleneck.”

But here is where I get closer to my ‘point’: “The big idea here is sustainability by creating an ecosystem of learning that is based on creativity, interest, and possibility as brought to bear by students on topics, problems, and opportunities they care about.”

Are Teachers Important?

Of course they are.

My guess is that either some didn’t actually read the post or they focused on the implication that teachers shouldn’t be the center of the learning universe and that it’s it may not be ideal if, day in and day out, the most compelling and forceful and dynamic ’cause’ of learning for 35 children is one adult (often for five or more classes a day).

I’m assuming it’s tempting to twist that statement around a little and believe that I’m saying that teachers aren’t as effective as other sources of learning, maybe? Or that they’re not absolutely crucial to the learning process? Or that textbooks and apps are more effective than teachers?

Regardless of the source of the misunderstanding (that I’ll accept responsibility for), I would think a teacher would be glad for children to have the very best: the very best learning environments with the very best opportunities to become their very best.

Why be upset about who helps facilitate that or who assigns what percentage across all of the bits and pieces of it all?

And even if the idea was criticism of teachers, as professionals are we not due for and deserving of criticism–ideally self-criticism?

The Education We Have And The Education They Need

While emotionally I’m more interested in the nature of digital interactions–how effortlessly people become awful to one another when the agreement is on social media of some kind–I’ll respond more broadly instead to clarify my position.

I am more than prepared to have large segments of any audience disagree with things I say. I fundamentally believe that the way we (myself included) do things isn’t our best thinking, which implies that what we’re doing and who is responsible for those actions, and how we might improve them are all inherently flawed.

This means each of us is, to some degree, accountable and because I am interested in doing whatever I can to improve these systems, sometimes I am going to criticize organizational systems and principles and policies that are actuated by people and some of those people might take it personally. And become upset. I get it.

I also get that as if teaching wasn’t difficult enough, the last 12 months have elevated the challenge ten-fold. The job of ‘teaching’ is academic and psychological and scientific all at once and each of those domains has been laid bare by global events (i.e., COVID and its countless sociocultural ripples). Teachers are stressed, pushed to their limits in many cases, and lacking support, respect, gratitude, funding, and countless other areas.

But this only reinforces a key point: teaching, as it is, is neither sustainable nor in the best interest of the majority of children. No matter how hard we work, what we have and do isn’t the education they deserve and need.

How teachers think about themselves and their role in the classroom matters (see here, for example). As a teacher, I’d want help. I’d want automations and human networks and live streaming and adaptive learning algorithms. To facilitate learning in whatever form.

While I hope I personally have an impact on the lives of students, I hope it happens by proxy.

After helping my students discover syntax and Faulkner and tone and Toni Morrison and Emily Dickinson and thematic development and Shakespeare, I’d be more than a little disappointed if the most enduring impression of their time in my classroom–among all of the authors and concepts and projects and words and questions and conversations–was me.

The post On Teachers And Teaching And The Essential Criticism Of It All appeared first on TeachThought.

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