What is the changing role of the teacher, and how do we support that new role?

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Karen Szymusiak
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The teacher must be viewed as an "expert learner" who understands how the brain acquires new information and new skills. Using the paradigm of "teacher as learner," teachers must be supported by being immersed in new learning settings. New learning must foster reflection on the process of learning, aiding each teacher's ability to support students' educational journeys.

The role of the teacher has never changed, nor will it. What must shift is the mindset of the teacher. We are not the engine that makes education run, rather we are the mechanic who fixes and tweaks the engine as it runs itself. We support this monumental shift by making education transparent. We must encourage collaboration and observation. Educators are not competitors, nor should we be. It does take a village to raise a child, but it also takes someone to show the village ways of doing things it had never thought of.

- heidigable heidigable Here's an excerpt from an article by CITE that supports the above statements and may stimulate discussion:

Roles in a Networked Learning Community

Everyone has an opportunity to be an active learner in a networked learning community, that supports intergenerational knowledge adaptation and generation. Each member has a role as a community learning resource.
  • If you are an experienced learner in the community—practiced at solving problems—you have a role to play helping others to learn. You may bring past knowledge and experience, and you will learn more as you help them learn.
  • If you are a young person or a novice at learning in a particular field, you still have a role to play as you construct your own knowledge and understanding, and through that process contribute new insights, experiences, and creations that enhance the learning of others in the community.

Everyone plays an active role in a networked learning community, contributing to the community’s construction of knowledge as its members collaborate to address problems (whether the goal is learning to read or learning to fly a rocket to the moon).

In the networked learning communities of the future, expert learners (we call them teachers, educators, scientists, and researchers today) are going to be recognized for their ability to learn and help others learn, as they continue to construct new knowledge and develop their own expertise. Their job will not be to teach – but to help others learn, as they model learning through collaboration to solve problems and achieve goals they have in common. (A significant part of the expert learner’s role will be organizing and managing the collaborative learning community.)

“Maybe what we need is a new employment category, like future-guide, to help people prepare for the effects of disruptive technology in their chosen professions so they don’t find themselves, frankly, out of a job.” - Janna Anderson, lead author of the Future of the Internet series and she says in The Futurist (Jan-Feb 2010), page 24

What are the visible changes you see in the role of the teacher? What does the classroom community look like/sound like?
What are the invisible changes (attitude/belief/philosophy)?

In Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, Clayton Christensen and co-authors Michael Horn and Curtis Johnson posit that by 2019 50% of high school courses will be taught on line, increasing to 80% by 2024. He predicts this will fundamentally change the way teachers interact with students -- from a whole-class, assembly-line style to a more individualized approach. This means teachers will not need so many classroom management skills and will work more as diagnosticians, facilitators, and tutors. The teacher's job will be to assess students and help match them with a curriculum and learning experience that fits their individual strengths and abilities, then to support them through the learning process. This is a fundamental change from the current system. Is this a realistic possibility? If so, how do we prepare teachers for this?

http://twitter.com/SP24_7 - I have been having this discussion with my cohort in a curriculum & instruction doctoral program I just started last month. The current discussion centers around teacher leadership. Part of one of my contributions went like this...Much is written about 21stcentury learning environments for students but in order to develop these environments, schools must develop 21st century environments for teachers. In his book, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, Clay Shirky argues that when the way people communicate changes, society changes His discussion centers around decentralized technologies and their ability to allow people to connect and collaborate in ways, heretofore, not possible. This, it seems to me, has implications for school leaders in creating learning environments for their students but also in establishing professional learning environments for their teachers. Young teachers especially have become professionals in a world in which the barriers to communicating, collaborating and collective action have diminished, if not vanished. The traditional hierarchies, with their rigid controls and top‐down mandates, are less functional for people who have thousands of friends and followers and access to all manner of information at the touch of a finger; they are more attuned to something far more egalitarian, democratic and openly discursive. I was also reading this article (Rewarding Teachers Collectively) and liked some of the ideas about restructuring school leadership and the roles of of teachers.

Jeff Jarvis at TEDxNYED Should educators be more curators than creators?
Someone said teachers should be collaborators not curators.
What are you thinking?

It may seem obvious, but sometimes it good to acknowledge the obvious once in a while, the teacher is the most important component in our complex educational system. If we try to break education down to it's more core component, education is the effective communication between the "learner" and the "teacher." Effective communication is only effective when the receiver (student) has value in the "messenger" (teachers). Many times if there is no perceived value in the messenger (teacher) then there is really no communication, or learning, occurring in the student (in one ear out the other). In terms of communication in this example, it is not just the transfer of some verbal facts, but also the attitude, mindset, modeled actions, etc. etc. of the teacher that is being communicated to the student. Granted this assumes that we are talking about competent teachers. If all of these assumptions are correct, it would seem then, that anything we do as an institution that fosters our students to infer value in their teachers would be a good thing. What things can we do to create inferred value in our teachers? What things have we done in the past that do not infer value in our teachers? What can teachers do to increase the value their student infer on them? What things can the learning environment do to increase value? Think of all the different groups/departments in a school district, how do they directly and indirectly influence the inferred value? Further musings related to this idea, can be found here, http://edutonica.blogspot.com/2010/02/value-in-teacher.html