5 Things to Change in Education Meme

5 Things to Change in Education Meme

I have been tagged by Bill Graziadei  to list five changes I would like to see in Education.  TJ Shay began this meme with the following rules.

List FIVE changes you would like to see in the educational system.  Your responses should represent your perspective and your passion for learning and students.  If you have been tagged, tag as many people as you choose, but try for a variety.

I am a educator. I spent most of my time as a middle school math and science teacher. Now I support educators as they learn how to reach all learners with media and technology.

I am a learner.  I spent a great deal of time learning in traditional classrooms. I hold 2 graduate degrees, but I am not done. I still spend a lot of time learning, it is self-directed.  I learn through my network, reading (print & digital), and viewing tons of tutorials.  I think this ‘in-formal’ education has been the richest and deepest of all my educational experiences.  I believe this is because I am following my passions.

The two individuals who have the greatest impact on a student’s education are the student and the teacher.  Since the role of a teacher it to support the student in their learning my focus on change will be on teacher professional development. Professional development is the key to supporting teachers, promoting their growth and effecting change in the classroom.

1.  Professional Development must be ongoing. Teachers must participate in on going professional development not just the hit or miss of workshops and classes to earn the professional development points needed for re-certification.  Teachers must be life long learners and practice what they preach; be curious, explore, question, challenge and grow.  These should not stop because the workshop is over.

2.  Professional Development must revolve around learning and learners.  In Massachusetts most of our professional development points must surround content. Teachers also need to achieve a masters degree in the subject area they teach.  Our primary focus is not on how people learn and interact with content information but only on the information.  I do agree teachers need to be very knowledgeable with the subject matter, but honestly after receiving a masters degree in the content area, teachers should be focusing on how kids connect with information and learn today.  We teach children not subjects.

3.  Professional development must be collaborative.  Teachers should be part of professional learning communities such as book groups, reading the latest in education and learning.  These communities can be face-2-face within their district or as part of an online community.  These learning communities can focus on a variety of areas, but they must foster collaboration and sharing.

4.  Professional development must be reflective.  I have participated in ‘PD for points’ that is often meaningless: just jump though the hoops and be done with it.  Reflection should be a part of any professional and personal growth plan.  This might be a journal, blog, or wiki where teachers can respond to other aspects of their PD plans, book groups, workshops, classes and discussions.

5.  Professional development takes time.  Teachers must be willing to give time outside of their school day for learning and collaborating, just as students are expected to learn outside of their school day.  Schools must be willing to facilitate collaborative time for teachers with in the school year.  School districts and State departments of education need to facilitate these learning opportunities, by recognizing both formal and informal learning experience as being valid parts of professional development plans and mandating PD around pedagogy, learners and new technologies.

Still working on these lets just say that was a first look.

Now who to tag? This is the most difficult part of any meme for me.

Julia Colby a K12 Technology Integration Specialist but comes to education from a business background.

Lisa Thuman who works at the college level.

Anne Truger whose is passionate about supporting with children special needs

Kim Cofino who works in an international school

20 thoughts on “5 Things to Change in Education Meme

  1. Hi Beth,

    According to the US Department of Education, a third of all new teachers leave the profession within the first three years. After five years, half of the educators have moved on to other careers. http://www.ed.gov/admins/tchrqual/learn/nclbsummit/dickson/index.html These numbers don’t include those who do not successfully fulfill teaching accreditation programs. It would be safe to say that those that initially choose the profession of education do not fulfill this goal. This isn’t always a bad thing, but many great prospective teachers never reach their full potential.
    I feel like something of a survivor. I’ve been teaching middle school for seven years and I have found my teaching groove; the “good days” increasingly are outnumbering the “bad days”. Your remarks about professional development certainly hit a key with my own personal experience. I see a snowball effect: The more a teacher learns about learning the more effective they are in the classroom.
    I’m curious if there are any apprenticeship programs in operation. I could envision a slow start for new teachers where they have a prolonged PAID internship. After two or three years they could take on a full class load and could continue to help build an educational foundation at their school. I could see how this could also aid in bringing much needed minorities into the fold. Have you come across any of these arrangements?

  2. Jeff,

    I have not heard of any apprenticeship models but I think it is an excellent idea. I have seen some mentor programs but they tend to peter out after the first year. I wonder if it could be part of a 5-6 college program that leads to certification, Bachelor and Master’s degree. Might be an interesting model to investigate.

  3. Hi Beth,

    First of all, I want to say that I admire your passion for learning. I also have a passion for learning everything I can about subjects I’m interested in, such as art, education, and technology. I agree with you that professional development is very important for the teacher’s growth and to better the student’s learning.

    I am an Art teacher in Ohio for grades 1-4 and high school Art 1. I am studying to further my education and working on a degree in Integrating Technology in the Classroom. What suggestions would you give me for succeeding in this field? Also, where can I look for technology-related professional development opportunities? I’ve been working in my district for 3 and a half years now and we’ve had 0 professional dev. opportunities in technology. It’s sad, but true. What I’ve learned, I’ve learned through our district technology director, who has become a good friend to me. I’ve also attended a few workshops through our tri-county educational service center.


    p.s. By the way, I am new to the blogging world.

  4. I think it is interesting that out of all of your educational experiences you have found that your “informal education” has been the most meaningful. Do you think it is because you are choosing the topics you want to explore further?
    I am currently just learning about all of the online workshop style professional development opportunities and I am amazed about the amount and variety of offerings.
    I am also brand new to blogging and see it as one avenue for building and participating in professional learning communities. Blogging seems to have the potential to offer the reflective and collaborative pieces you mention as important components to professional development. Have you ever taken part in a professional development session that was followed up by a blog for further ideas and reflection?
    Thank you for sharing your ideas.

  5. Hi Beth,
    Your insight on your passion and ideas of Professional Developement are inspiring. I truly believe in practicing what you preach and modeling this behavior for your students. Although I have only been teaching for ten years, I have seen all too often the stagnant, stale, and old methods of teaching from long ago in many new, fresh, and young teachers in the field. Teachers must continue to learn and develop new techniques and methods in order to evolve with the new kinds and types of learners each year. They also need to remember why they entered the field in the first place, for the love of teaching and the opportunity to shape young people.

  6. Hello Beth,
    Your posting is exactly what I believe in in terms of professional development. In my school I’ve seen a lot of colleagues who take their teaching job as a job rather than a life-long career. It’s just a job that pays their bill nothing else.

    Teaching is the only profession that deals with human that they it’s going to have a life-long effect on individual. We might not see our effect right away but we’re surely leaving some influence behind. In order to catch up the development of nowadays’ students, teachers have to keep themselves up-to-date in terms of how our students learn, how they perceive things and what interest them as a whole.

    True teaching and learning only take place when teachers manage to connect to their students. Honestly students in this century is so much different from those 10 or 20 years ago. When we were a student, our schooling experience is fundamentally different, we focus on books and nothing else. Any project learning will mean digging up more books in the library. As compare to now, research is done through the Internet which opens up the whole new level of getting information. Data and information not only can be found in books but they comes in any format, be it audio or video and texts format. In the virtual world, anything will be literally a click away.

    I can’t imagine how teaching is lagging behind if teachers are not up to date with their professional development of trying to catch up with what our students are experience in this digital world. Few days ago I heard my friend told me that her principal one day got fed up about computers and he actually said ‘let’s just throw all these computer junk out and be done with it’, I was shocked at the fact that being the leader of a school can say something like that. It’s really sad and shocking…

  7. I appreciated your thoughts on professional development. Why is it that school districts feel that they must mandate what teachers learn in their PD “opportunities”? I always find myself being held captive as someone enlightens me about some irrelevant part of the educational system, or even worse, I find myself perched in front of a “motivational” speaker. What I would like to see is a system that allows teachers to decide on what aspects of their teaching they would like to focus, and then allows them the freedom to do just this, much like students are afforded the opportunity to choose their own electives in college. I am a new K-5 computer lab teacher, and as a professional, I know this is where I need to work. However, my PD opportunities to learn about the technology that is available are very rare. If I wish to develop my skill at teaching technology, I must do it on my own. Why can’t I get credit for my efforts? I hope I don’t sound whiny. I know PD is important: I just want to make sure that it is relevant to my teaching and the students I serve. I think most educators would agree.

  8. Carolyn,

    I certainly believe that I learn best when I am driving my learning, and I must say my network helps steer me in the right direction, cheer me on when I make progress and encourage me when I am stuck in the mud.

    I began blogging a few years ago to learn about this tool and how it could be used in education. I never thought I would continue but it was the catalyst for developing my learning environment. It caused me to reflect on what I have learned, something that rarely did in my K-12 education. Through it I began to connect to other blogs. These educators directed me to other people and the tools I learn with now.

    I have participated in professional development session where we used blogs and/or wikis to track our progress and reflect on our learning. I have enjoyed these though at the beginning it took a while to get used to. Know one ever asked me to ‘think’ before and share what I know.

  9. Becky,

    I would suggest attending the Ohio Tech conference (http://www.etech.ohio.gov/conference) – this will help you get a broad idea of the tools and trends that are out there and it will help you connect with others interested in Technology and Art. Most of my current learning comes from connecting with other educators as we share, learn and teach each other through blogs, wikis, twitter, email, podcasts etc.
    The only Tech PD we have in my school is the PD I offer so I am always starved for PD as well.

    As an Art educator you might be interested in connecting with Kevin Honeycutt and his ArtSnacks project. He is Art Educator who is inspired by technology in education.

  10. C Slavish

    “Only ten years” most teachers do not make it past 5! You are certainly an old timer. You are right teachers need to remember why they are teaching. I find some teachers must remember this, and go back to the basics – student centered teaching which we often stray from when we get set in our ways.

  11. Sarah,

    We are leaving some type influence behind, good or bad, we affect the students in our classrooms everyday!

    I have two children and I think of them often when I teach. How would I want my children to be treated in the classroom, what skills and knowledge to I want them to know? Keeping that in mind has changed how I reacted to situations and how I created learning experiences. I think that helped to spur me on to keep learning and growing.

  12. NancyJ

    I am so with you there “Why can I get credit for my efforts?” I am just beginning a personal research project on this idea. Take for example the stories of Abraham Lincoln and how he educated himself by reading books by the fires in his log cabin. We admire and respect his dedication. Why do ‘officials’ not recognize my learning by reading books, blogs, attending workshops on line, and being self directed in my learning. Is there some method we can use to ‘quantify this, or change the perception of what it means to be schooled, educated?

    I frequently use the quote attributed to Mark Twain. ” I never let my schooling interfere with my education.” My own children can quote that as well. I believe there is a distinct difference between the two.

  13. Hi Beth,
    Thanks for replying! I can so relate to your comment about us influencing our students everyday in the classroom. I’ve had a real example in my homeroom class. One of my students with whom I am his class teacher for 3 years ever since he started secondary school. I can actually see his development and changes and sometimes I can see myself in him.

    I am glad that he finds my advise useful because slowly and gradually he’s trying to apply them himself in real life. I am also glad that he’ll open up to me and talk about school and life in general. Of course not to mention how many times he thanked me for what I am doing for him. Only he doesn’t understand why every time he said that I replied back to him ‘thank YOU!’, I know he always thought I was just joking with him.

    I truly believe learning is two ways. Every teacher learn from their students and vice versa. I think if one day any teacher doesn’t think they are learning anything from their students, then something must be very wrong. What do you think?

    Best wishes,

    *For some reason my first response here didn’t get publish…

  14. Beth,

    Thank you for your response. I find that collaborating and reflecting with other teachers not only benefits my students, but it refreshes and reenergizes me. I just realized from your response how blogging can really expand the boundaries of professional collaboration beyond a school or even district.

    Having opportunities for reflection on lessons and new learning with others makes such a positive difference in my professional growth. I am excited at the prospect of this occurring in an even larger setting through blogging.


  15. Beth,

    I am very interested to hear what you discover in your project regarding choice in PD. Please share what you learn on this blog. Maybe some of your other readers have ideas to contribute.

    I just saw a quote that applies here.
    “Analog Schools: Digital World”
    Our schools need to “catch up” and it has to start with the “officials” you mentioned. I don’t think they accept the definition of education you present because they are unfamiliar with the tools. Sad.

  16. Hi Beth,
    I was wondering if you had any ideas on how to incorporate blogging and wikis into a special needs math class. I am slowly working towards conquering the new technology afforded to me and want to give my students the best possible experiences that I can. Do you have any suggestions for a good online community or any professional developement webinars that I can participate in?
    C Slavish

  17. Professional development is important especially when we are talking about integrating technology in the classroom. Technology changes at such a fast pace that the only way to stay up-to-date is to do self-directed professional learning. I say ‘self-directed’ because, in my district, the mandatory professional learning will not cut it. Plus, as you stated, you gain more knowledge when you are seeking it rather than the knowledge being forced on you.

  18. Another thing to change…

    I know I have not been tagged but I dare to add the sixth change I will like to see in the educational system –substitute teachers given more consideration as a professional educator. I am a substitute teacher in South Carolina as I await a full-time position. I qualify for this position because I have a business degree and experience in this area for which there is a critical need for teachers. With years of the world of business under my belt, I now choose to educate our youth. Thus, I am a PACE candidate with a letter stating my qualification as a business teacher. As I travel to many schools of the district, I am not alone there are other substitutes in varied areas of qualification who also await their full-time employment positions. While yes there are many subs who are just in the schools to earn a supplemental income, many of us are there not to take the opportunity lightly but to be a part of educating the youth. In fact the state of South Carolina firmly stipulates that , “If you do not meet these qualifications, we currently cannot accept your application as a substitute teacher for Greenville County Schools. . .
    ? Teachers who hold a valid SC teaching certificate
    ? Teachers who hold valid teaching certificate from another state and are applying for SC teaching certificate
    ? PACE Candidate WITH letter stating area(s) of qualification OR Statement of eligibility
    ? Recent college graduates in education who are applying for SC teaching certificate” (Greenville County Schools, 2009).

    However, I often feel that a day of regular education in the life of a student comes to a screeching halt in the absence of their teacher. Many teachers give their students boring “filler work” instead of a planned continued session. It is the incredibly invigorating exception of the teachers that leave a detailed lesson plan that provides a dual tool; for the students, another day of purposeful education; and for the ‘guest’ teacher, a glimpse into the professional mentor’s path.

    Expecting sub standards from a teacher that is state required to meet a minimum qualification of a certified teacher is something I suggest should change. Just as I had become accustomed to performing to a level of professionalism for each office I served as a short-term hire accountant (my other profession), so do I regard my position as a ‘substitute’ teacher. I have already proved myself worthy of employment in the school system. I voluntarily further my education to become better professionally developed. I soak in all of the varied instructional strategies of the teachers which I daily am exposed. Each day is a deliberate attempt to invest in the future of our youth—willing to teach beyond my capacity; if given the chance?

    Greenville County Schools-Human Resources (2009). Retrieved March 14, 2009 from: http://www.greenville.k12.sc.us/gcsd/depts/hr/sub.asp

  19. I enjoyed reading the five changes you would like to see in our educational system. I am a 4th grade teacher and have been teaching in Title 1 schools for 10 years. Throughout my experiences I have noticed and have had similar feelings about many of the changes you noted. My personal favorite is “practice what you preach”. All too often teachers spent countless hours in professional development and get in the car and throw the papers to the ground. Will those ideas presented ever see the light of day? Doubtful…many teachers are afraid of change or of trying things new and different. I feel if you are offered something that may help or enhance you teaching, why wouldn’t you use it? Another point you made that I feel very strongly about is when you stated “we teach children, not subjects”. In my world there is no other way. Teachers must be masters at being parents, doctors, teachers , lawyers, etc. to make it through the day. Is getting your masters in a subject area really going to be the indicator that makes you a super teacher? Children remember a bit of what you teach them, hopefully, but they will definately remember the way you made them feel. Another point you made was about professional development needing to be collborative. My school has started doing book studeies this year and it has helped to promote a positive outlook in our building. At the beginning of the year we read “5 Dysfunctions of a Team”. Having a new principal and a new outlook in our building, this book really served it’s purpose. Presently we are reading “Classroom Instruction That Works”. So far a few teachers have carried ideas back to the classroom. Hopefully there will be more to follow! I’m glad to know that there are others out there that have the same wants and desires for our schools!

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