Don’t Lecture on Constructivism

Be a Model OUTSIDE the Classroom

Tonight I’m reminded how important it is that we, as educators, be models for our students.  We have discussed before how important it is to model risk taking, empathy, problem-finding, & resiliency for our kiddos- but this is crucial for the others we serve as well.  In what other roles do you have influence?  Are you a leader of a book club or other social group?  A parent or spouse? A group member in your local church?  a swim instructor or basketball coach?  If we aren’t modelling innovation in these areas of our lives – outside the classroom – we are missing opportunities to share thinking, spark others’ ideas, promote equity, and spread love.

The Trickle Down Effect

As my friend Emily (@TheEdSandbox) says, “the trickle down effect of our work as educators is huge”.  Consider how you approached your first day in the classroom.  It was probably quite similar to what your cooperating teacher modelled for you, or reminiscent of what you experienced in school.

If institutes of higher education (like mine) strive to develop empathetic, innovative educators, we MUST model these practices for them in their courses.  It is not enough to say “read this article on student agency” or “write an essay on the importance of being networked”.  We must be willing to provide opportunities for our adult learners to synthesize, create, and make meaning that is purposeful to them.  We must be willing to let go of control in our college classrooms and allow students the freedom to “go down a rabbit hole” (@gcouros), to make meaningful connections, and to remix content in a way that is best for them.  Isn’t this what we hope their future P-12 classrooms look like?

Lecturing on Constructivism

During tonight’s #IMMOOC conversation, @Katiemartinedu shared an experience in which a conference presenter banned the use of devices during the session.  Katie felt stifled without the ability to take notes on her laptop, which is what helps her synthesize content.  Her anecdote led me to think about some of the education conferences (and college courses) I’ve sat in, in which information was presented in one modality, to a large audience who wasn’t encouraged to do anything with it.  Luckily, as George Couros (@gcouros) mentions a few minutes later in the session, educators all across the country are challenging this ‘one size fits all’ thought pattern and are modelling innovative approaches in their work with adult learners who can then implement the thought patterns in their own classrooms.  Now, educators at a conference synthesize content through conference hashtags, find mentors and resources through social media, and  attend work sessions to remix content in ways meaningful to them.

Our work in teacher preparation is on the path to improvement as well, as professors strive to connect students in meaningful ways and engage student teachers in ‘renewable tasks’ that are purposeful and contributive to the field.

Open Education Pedagogy (OER Supported Pedagogy)

Open Education Pedagogy (or OER Supported Pedagogy) is a wonderful example of how institutes of higher education are shifting their thought patterns to create learner-directed classrooms.  Robin DeRosa and Scott Robinson write about this shift in thought; saying that it allows “faculty the opportunity to create a new relationship between learners and the information they access in the course.  Instead of thinking of knowledge as something students need to download into their brains, we start thinking of knowledge as something continuously created and revised”.

Since this is exactly how we hope P-12 educators approach the learning relationship between students and content in their own classrooms, it is more crucial than ever that teacher preparation programs ‘practice what we preach’.


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