The Present and Future of Pedagogical Breakthroughs

Robert Slavin, in 2012:

While [computer-assisted instruction] will surely continue to play a role, I believe that real breakthroughs in teaching methods will come from classroom (as opposed to individualized) technologies that help teachers orchestrate diverse technological as well as non-technological resources.

He continues:

In theory, every lesson might contain some appropriate mix of all of these technology and non-technology resources, but an unaided teacher would have difficulty organizing all of this and adapting it in light of children’s responses on the fly. The future of instruction may be in exciting new technologies, but those technologies alone will not transform the classroom–we will always need an equal focus on new tools AND effective human methods paired with effective professional development.

True then, true now.

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My Take on #Gamergate

For what it’s worth, I’ve noticed that those arguing for and against Gamergate often seem to be at the point where they’ve forgotten why they’re even arguing.

#Gamergate: I don't think it means what you think it means.

Yes, people can be mean, the Internet can easily amplify that cruelty, and most solutions to the truly complex problems of humanity require far more than anonymous chatter.

 

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Hiring Good People

A friend and colleague of mine recently left her technology trainer position in Public Ed for a similar position in an education-related private company.

When she announced her excitement on Facebook, I replied with a less-than-popular response. In my response I mentioned that I thought this move was good for her, good for the company she was joining, and good for all who would embrace the privatization of Ed Tech everywhere. (After all, she IS highly skilled and would finally be making the kind of money she deserves.) I then clarified that I also thought this move was bad: Bad for Public Education, bad for the organization she was leaving behind, and bad for the taxpayers in our state who had invested so heavily in her throughout her career – to ultimately make her the high quality and coveted technology trainer that she had eventually become.

Because all told, if it weren’t for the growth and experience she’d gained while working in Public Ed, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars the public had invested in her, she wouldn’t really be the “best candidate” for this new position she’s been so excited to take.

Successful Hunt

I suppose the argument I’m trying to make here is that in spite (or because) of her experience and hard-earned expertise, she still might not “the best” candidate for this private company’s open position; because when private companies choose to hire good people that once occupied critical positions in Public Education, they damage the relationships that have made their private company so great. Additionally, when private companies exploit the hard-fought investment the public has made to make its employees and system great, the entire system suffers, as newly hired and inexperienced employees require new training and lots of experience and lots of time, to finally become the high quality asset every organization hopes to employ.

But then again, what do I know?

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To the Teachers of My Children

Inspired by Pam Moran’s excellent example, I thought it would be appropriate to resurrect one of the most heartfelt posts I’ve ever written. Since sharing this open letter three years ago, my love and appreciation for great teachers – everywhere – has only grown. There is no profession more impacting.

Thank you, teachers, for all you give and do to make this world a better place!

- – -

My grandfather’s passing last week accompanied, for me, several very important lessons that rarely come in any other fashion:

  1. Life is short.
  2. Time is precious.
  3. Quite often, we don’t fully appreciate what we have until it’s gone.

As a result, I’m writing with hopes that you’ll consider carefully how precious the time is that you’re able to spend with my children. Realistically, during this time of year, you’re able to spend more time with them than I. Do you realize how lucky you are?

Like many parents, I’m not as concerned with how well you teach my kids to take tests. I’m really not. In fact, I’d rather you use each priceless minute to captivate their imaginations, guide them in deep thinking, help them to create, and cultivate a love of learning so deeply engrained that they grow to no longer need your services.

Do that, and the scores will take care of themselves.

I’ve done my best to provide an energetic learning environment in our home, but am desperately relying on you, your skills, and the time you have to spend with my child to fill in any holes I might not even know exist. Because my kids have grown comfortable using technology when they learn (and they gravitate toward anything with a screen), I think you’ll have the best luck in leveraging technology’s potential for instruction. Nevertheless, I’ll also trust your judgment in determining how best to reach my child; and hope – earnestly hope – there’s consistently constructive purpose behind the ways you choose to spend the time that you’re given.

Kids Deserve Great Teachers!

I’m counting on you like no other, and want you to know how deeply grateful I am for your meaningful efforts. Yours is a difficult job, I know, but unquestionably invaluable. If there’s ever any way I can help in your classroom, I’ll jump at the chance to work by your side. I love my children, and will do all that it takes to prepare them for their future.

All that I ask is that you do the same.

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