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Posts Tagged ‘expectations

My hunt for an elusive video brought me to the Singapore Ministry of Education’s Facebook page.

While I did not find what I was looking for, I found a series of images. They served as a helpful reminder of what teachers should stock up on to prepare for the new year.

What MOE teachers will use in 2017...

It was also a stark reminder of the mindset and expectations of teachers. The technologies are not current. If they were, there would be reminders to change passwords, renew VPN plans, update software, check digital archives, etc.

The call to arms was: You will be needing these and more to make a lasting impact on that one student. I get that message and stand behind it because it is a call to individualise, difficult as that will be.

I hope that teachers read this as reaching out to more than just that one student because all students are that one student. However, this task is impossible with the traditional tools and methods because they are largely about centralisation, standardisation, and control.

The newer tools are about decentralisation, individualisation, and self-regulation. This will only happen if school leaders and teachers change their mindsets and expectations about which tools to focus on and how to use them.

We are in the middle of the teaching practicum period and I am reflecting on what some teacher educators refer to as the “theory-practice nexus”.

More specifically, I am reflecting on the expectations placed on new teachers and the time it actually takes to bridge the gap of where teachers are now and what is desired of them years down the road.

Any field of professional practice will likely struggle with theory-practice nexus. Preparation for jobs tend to be more theoretical, and while there are attempts to make the study period more realistic or contextual, it is still not the real thing. Much of the learning must continue on the job. It is not realistic to expect new graduates or hires to be completely ready.

I had two recent conversations that made me reflect on the seriousness of the gap between what teachers are ready to do and what they must do.

One conversation was with a visiting scholar from a well-established teacher education programme in the USA. She revealed how a particular curricular change took 10 years to formulate and get buy-in, and is only in the pilot phase of implementation now.

Teachers in that programme were trying to hit moving targets. Neither the ready-now and ready-later state were clear, so the teachers did know not where to stand much less walk.

Another conversation I had was with a senior teacher who told me that he was only now realizing what some of his NIE training was for. There was more than a decade of dormant theory waiting to be called to action.

So one is a problem of developing stable prescribed curriculum while the other is developing a mindset of career-long learning.

Both might have a common core problem: An over emphasis on preservice education and an underemphasis on subsequent professional development. The solution is to find a more logical balance.

Lava orgy by keppet, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  keppet 

But that assumes that a stable curriculum is possible. It is not because we live in an age where information and knowledge is about as stable as rock on molten lava.

The deeper problem is an over reliance on experts and old methods of preparation. These do not necessarily promote the negotiation of meaning, the protracted process of learning, and the development of professional, independent, and reflective individuals.

For example, as much as we have evolved, we are still reliant on lectures and textbooks. These are built on the foundation that there is “expertise” and “stable information”. Today, there are exceptions to every rule. Tomorrow, there will be even more.

It is not enough to tell new teachers to learn what they can now and save it for later. We must develop in them the capacity and the desperation for them to want to learn more because they have not learnt enough.

They must expect this and they must behave professionally to get information to bridge the gaps they detect on their own. This could mean situations where they realize that current norms and assessment systems are lacking and that they must figure out alternatives that meet the needs of their learners.

First there was Generation X. Then there was Gen Y. Now there is Gen F for Facebook, of course. But is someone just making this stuff up? I don’t think so.

Gary Hamel of the Wall Street Journal suggested 12 traits of Gen F, who will “expect the social environment of work to reflect the social context of the Web.” That was in the context of work.

In the context of education, I’d say that such students will have different notions of expertise and different expectations of how or what they need to learn. Different from whom? Their teachers, especially if their teachers don’t wise up and learn how to engage them.

One of the differences that Hamel suggested is that “contribution counts for more than credentials.” Case in point? Singapore’s top Twitterer is a 15-year-old boy (he has a Facebook account, of course). He has more followers than Bono and they are from all over the world. They follow him not because of his age or despite his age. Age, his experience, and his qualifications are not important. The information, knowledge, and advice that he shares are.

Speaking of Facebook, here is a tongue-firmly-in-cheek look at it!

Click to see all the nominees!

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