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Who is doing the work?

At the NETA conference in Omaha last month I attended a session by Nicole Badgely of Arnold Public Schools. Nicole is great, I have listened to her talk a few times before and she always does a good job of distilling her experiences into useful information for others.

Her presentation was on what administrators should be looking for when observing a teacher’s tech integrated lesson. In it, she said a few things that sound so stinking obvious, but have just not been easy for me to translate to teachers. I need to try harder to get these messages through, and I will be borrowing her language when I do so.

For example:

  • Who is doing the work in the lesson? The teacher or the students? Real learning comes through struggle. Teachers don’t need to learn the content – they already know it. They should not be slaving away over presentations, preparing content to hand to the students on a shiny silver platter (powerpoint.) Students should be doing the work – researching the websites, answering the essential questions, assembling their learning into a presentation. A teacher’s role should be in identifying the appropriate questions, and motivating the students to struggle to an answer.
  • Collaboration with technology present is only truly “collaboration” if it allows you to interact with people that you would not be able to interact with WITHOUT the technology. People outside of your building, or students across wide vertical gaps in the building for example.

I share these ideas both as a shout out to Nicole, who may underestimate the power of her words out there “5 minutes from God” in Western Nebraska, and as a reminder to myself that these are very important topics, and I need to grow my vocabulary and language around how best to communicate these ideas to teachers, and peers.

Posted in My Thoughts.

One Response

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  1. Dale Holt says

    Asking the right questions seems to be at the essence of education, yet it seems we rarely cut it to the heart of the matter as the question of “Who is doing the work?”. I like the boil-downability of this line of questioning and I too believe that I need to develop a lexicon with which I can communicate with my peers. This also brings to me another point – The value of discussion married to action that can occur when we start to believe what we are talking about can have an effect if put into action. One reason I find NETA so valuable is because of the discussion and as Chris has demonstrated, the thought wave echoes that we continue to learn from after the fact.

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