Monday, 13 February 2017

Experts within the classroom

Teacher's Voice
Recently I read Charlotte Pezaro’s passionate article, Specialist science and maths teachers in primary schools are not the solution’. Following this, I watched Paul Browning talking about killing creativity on abc newsBy sharing their thoughts and convictions, educators are given a voice, which promotes and provides an authentic view of the teaching profession. To combat the deprofessionalisation of teachers, more educators should share their thoughts and opinions through various mediums. Deprofessionalisation is defined as removing professional control, influence and discrediting the professional status. It's time for educators to have more influence and control over decisions made regarding education.

Professional Autonomy
Model of "best use" of a textbook?
A tweet (right) showing textbooks as a doorstop recently reminded me of a paper I wrote over 10 years ago. The topic was about mandated math textbooks in California. My views are from a primary perspective. Textbooks may be mandated for equitable reasons, so all students are provided with the same content for the standardised test. However, when teachers are provided with a textbook or program to follow (without choice), I believe it undermines their professionalism. While some may find teaching maths by 'page number' a more simple approach, I would find it not only uncomfortable but a little condescending. It appears standardised tests and accountability is influencing learning activities. If given no choice and told to use a textbook or particular program to improve students’ outcomes, teacher autonomy is lost which may decrease self-efficacy. Does the textbook or program build the teachers’ capacity? With a strong interest and to build my capacity to teach maths, I completed my masters in education. From a primary teaching perspective, I believe in using various resources to create a positive learning environment for all students. Literature books, music, games, songs, dance, and technology can be used to help students learn mathematical concepts. Being trained in Primary Connections program (science) provided an opportunity to train other educators, which built their capacity for programming and teaching science, while providing them with choice and a voice. If a program or textbook is mandated, it should facilitate differentiation and provide opportunities for teacher input. Could a teacher create successful individualised learning experiences using one program or one textbook? I once worked with a colleague who had only taught using textbooks and after one year of mentoring, she embraced and developed her ability to use various strategies, tools and resources to teach maths.

Contexts Make a Difference
Teachers are told what research indicates or suggests, but I think it’s vital for all of us to recognise that each country, state or territory and school is unique. Similarly, each student arrives with various beliefs and abilities. In my opinion, 'context' is not given enough recognition in education. Some students come to school having been read to since they were 6 months old, while some students do not speak English when they walk into their classroom. When I attend TeachMeets or converse with educators on Twitter, I learn about other contexts, which fascinates me. How can we possibly standardise education when students, teachers, and contexts are not standardised? According to an article written in TeachThoughtteachers make 1500 decisions a day and many of our decisions are dependent on our context, and our students’ immediate responses, engagement, questions and actions. Receiving feedback means making decisions which may generate adaptations and change.

Magic in the Moment
Much magic happens when teachers apply their knowledge and skills in the moment. That moment when students’ curiosity is captured, when they’re eagerly engaged and when their love for learning is evident. Teachers make decisions each day in their classroom but it is time to have more influence and control over decisions made regarding education. We need to recognise and acknowledge that the 'Experts are within the classroom!"

I appreciate your opinions & please share any blogs that highlight the teacher's voice. @stringer_andrea

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