From DSC:
The items below made me reflect on the need to practice some serious design thinking to rethink/redesign the cradle-to-grave learning ecosystems out there.


Real World Learning in Action — from gettingsmart.com by Shawnee Caruthers

Key Points

  • The Real World Learning initiative was created to address a simple, but equally complex challenge: How do you prepare students for life after high school?
  • The traditional, go to classes, earn some credits, participate in some activities and earn a diploma wasn’t working, at least not equitably.

Creating a new high school experience starts with innovative thinking and advocates willing to say yes. As a result of collaborations, visiting best practice sites and numerous convenings, the Kansas City region is now a hub for pathways, wall-to-wall academies, microschools, innovation academies, student-run businesses, strong client-connected project examples and more. Educational stakeholders can now go across state lines to see future-forward thinking for students.

Also relevant/see:

Framing and Designing the HOW — from gettingsmart.com by Rebecca Midles

Key Points (emphasis DSC):

  • The referenced circle graphic is intended to guide how we talk about our work as a system, internal and externally.
  • It also is about understanding our why on a personal level.
  • Learning systems are specifically designed to get the results they have, and to change results, we have to redesign the system.

Also relevant/see:

Fewer People Are Getting Teacher Degrees. Prep Programs Sound the Alarm — from edweek.org by Madeline Wil

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

As teacher dissatisfaction rates rise and concerns about teacher shortages intensify, colleges of education are sounding the alarm: Enrollment has been steadily declining for the past decade, and the pandemic has likely made things worse.

Smaller and Restructured: How the Pandemic Is Changing the Higher Education IT Workforce — from educause.edu by Jenay Robert

Excerpt:

Several prominent themes emerged from the analysis of these responses and are supported by other recent EDUCAUSE research:

  • Though most respondents reported a reduction in force, some were able to justify adding new positions to their units in 2021, primarily to meet new institutional needs.
  • Budget cuts were the main cause of reductions in force.
  • Work factors such as flexible, remote work options and competitive salaries are playing a central role in attrition and recruitment.
  • Increased workloads and personal stressors related to the pandemic have resulted in widespread burnout among staff.
  • IT units have plans to reorganize in 2022 to become more agile and efficient and to respond to the evolving needs of their organizations.

Allan: With $175G Grants, Accelerate ED Looks to Better Link K-12, College & Work — from the74million.org by Sara Allan

Excerpt:

Today, most states require high school students to complete a set of defined courses, assessments and experiences in order to graduate on a career-ready pathway. However, the number of schools that fully embrace coherent programs of study that connect K-12, higher education and employment remains frustratingly small.

.


What if every high school student had the chance to take an additional year of courses related to their interests and earn enough credits to complete their associate degree one year after high school while gaining valuable experience and career preparation—at little to no cost?

— from Seamless Pathways to Degrees and Careers

From DSC:
The above quote is the type of “What if…” question/thinking that we need to redesign our cradle-to-grave/lifelong learning ecosystems.


 

Teacher Moves That Cultivate Learner Agency — from edutopia.org by Paul Emerich France
Helping students become independent, questioning thinkers begins with stepping back and guiding them to take the lead in their learning.

Excerpt:

Cultivating learner agency is an endless journey. It not only entails knowing our students as human beings but also requires identifying and unlearning patterns in our teaching that unknowingly engender dependence in learners.

The term agency comes from the Latin agere, meaning “to set in motion.” It is precisely what agency should do in our classrooms: empower learners so that their minds and hearts become the engines that drive learning in our classrooms. This isn’t as simple as some might believe. Providing too much voice and choice without proper scaffolds can be counterproductive, resulting in chaos in the classroom.

Consider the following moves that cultivate learner agency—and choose one to try in your classroom.

 

Why So Many Teachers Are Leaving, and Why Others Stay — from cultofpedagogy.com by Jennifer Gonzalez

Excerpts:

It’s no exaggeration to say that a big shift has occurred, and it happened very, very recently. If you are in a leadership position—a school administrator, a district superintendent, or even an official at the state level—and you’re concerned about this shift (which you definitely should be), I’m hoping to offer something helpful here.

We’ll start with the stories of four teachers who recently made the decision to leave their jobs and finding the common threads between them. These are the cautionary tales, the ones from which we can learn what not to do. Think of this part as “How to Lose a Teacher in One School Year or Less.”

Part two will be about teachers who stayed, and the administrative decisions that made this possible.

“The best thing the leadership in my school did was to LISTEN to the teachers. We are on the front lines and we see problems developing on a day to day basis. When admin listens to the problems WE are experiencing and seeks wisdom from US on potential solutions, that is absolutely the most significant factor on why our staff has seen less turnover than other schools.”

 

Why Improving Student Learning is So Hard — from opencontent.org by David Wiley

Excerpt:

2. Student behavior will normally change only in response to changes in faculty behavior – specifically, the assignments faculty give and the support faculty provide.

For many students, the things-they-do-to-learn are all located within the relatively small universe of things their faculty assign them to do – read chapters, complete homework assignments, etc. For a variety of reasons, and many of them perfectly good reasons, “students don’t do optional” – they only do what they’re going to be graded on.

Therefore, students will likely engage in more effective learning behaviors ONLY IF their faculty assign them more effective learning activities. Faculty can further increase the likelihood of students engaging in more effective learning activities if they support them appropriately throughout the process.

From DSC:
I can put an “Amen” to the above excerpt. For years I managed a Teaching & Learning Digital Studio. Most of the students didn’t come into the Studio for help, because most of the faculty members assigned the normal kinds of things (papers, quizzes, and such). Had there been more digitally-created means of showing what students knew, there would have been more usage of the T&L Digital Studio. 

Also, if we want to foster more creativity and innovation — as well as give our learners more choice and more control over their learning — we should occasionally get away from the traditional papers.

Another comment here is that it’s hard to change what faculty members do, when Instructional Designers can’t even get in the car to help faculty members navigate. We need more team-based efforts in designing our learning experiences.

 
 

OPINION: It may be time to rethink the emphasis on taking calculus in high school — from hechingerreport.org by Veronica Anderson
An argument for opening other paths that could be more relevant to students

Excerpt:

Based on data from surveys and interviews, “A New Calculus for College Admissions” reveals how deep-seated preferences for calculus weigh heavily in decisions about who gets admitted to college.

Yet does it make sense for calculus to have such an influential role in college admission when so few college majors actually require the course? There are other ways for high school students to gain the quantitative reasoning skills that will prepare them for the rigors of college and the workplace.

It’s time to reconsider the dominance of calculus.

From DSC:
I wholeheartedly agree. And along these lines, I think it would be far more beneficial to students to have classes on topics such:

  • How do I do my taxes?
  • What legal things do I need to know about (i.e., wills, trusts, civil law-related items, other)?
  • How can I get and stay healthy?
 

From DSC:
For the last few years, I’ve been thinking that we need to make learning science-related information more accessible to students, teachers, professors, trainers, and employees — no matter what level they are at.

One idea on how to do this — besides putting posters up in the hallways, libraries, classrooms, conference rooms, cafeterias, etc. — is that we could put a How best to study/learn link in all of the global navigation bars and/or course navigation bars out there in organizations’ course management systems and learning management systems. Learners of all ages could have 24 x 7 x 365, easy, instant access as to how to be more productive as they study and learn about new things.

For example, they could select that link in their CMS/LMS to access information on:

  • Retrieval practice
  • Spacing
  • Interleaving
  • Metacognition
  • Elaboration
  • The Growth Mindset
  • Accessibility-related tools / assistive technologies
  • Links to further resources re: learning science and learning theories

What do you think? If we started this in K12, kept it up in higher ed and vocational programs, and took the idea into the corporate world, valuable information could be relayed and absorbed. This is the kind of information that is highly beneficial these days — as all of us need to be lifelong learners now.

 

Education Needs a Reset. We Can Start by Listening to Our Teachers. — from edsurge.com by Elissa Vanaver

Excerpts:

What too few politicians and parents are talking about, though, is the dire state of the career pipeline for teachers, the ones we’ll be depending on to lead the post-pandemic learning recovery in our classrooms over the next few years—not to mention for the next generation.

Valuing teachers is the systemic path to centering students. In order to move the needle, we must go beyond what teachers need to do to address root causes that require cultural and systemic change. Here are a few things it will take:

  1. Understanding that teaching and learning are inherently relational and the power relationships have on student and teacher success.
  2. Centering the joy of learning and making classrooms a place students and teachers want to be.
  3. Creating an empowered teaching culture to advocate for children and encouraging creativity that optimizes engagement.
  4. Fostering culturally responsive methods through continuous mentoring by exceptional, experienced educators.
  5. Developing partnerships with quality teacher preparation programs for coherent and supportive career pathways.

From DSC:
When I used to work in customer service and also in technical support at Baxter Healthcare, I always thought that management should be listening closely to those employees who were on the front lines — i.e., those of us who were in regular contact with Baxter’s customers. Similarly, the teachers are on the front lines within education. We need to give them a huge say in what happens in the future of the preK-12 learning ecosystems. We also need the students’ voices to be heard big time.

Also popular last month from edsure.com, see:

 

8 Principles for Supporting Students with ADHD — from cultofpedagogy.com by Jennifer Gonzalez

Excerpt:

Regardless of the subject area or age you teach, you’re likely to have at least a few students with ADHD in your classroom every school year, so a good working knowledge of it should be part of any teacher’s professional training.

This slim book is not meant to be comprehensive or in-depth. Barkley states outright that he’s not going to spend time on narrative prose and extensive research citations; his goal is to simply explain ADHD so that busy teachers can understand it, and tell them what they can do to help students who have it. His message is “Trust me, I know this stuff. Do this, not that.” And while this obviously leaves him open to criticism, the book certainly delivers on its promises, and it’s a great starting point for any teacher who wants a crash course on ADHD.

 

3 Things I Learned from the Country with Europe’s Best Schools — from medium.com by Eva Keiffenheim
You’ll marvel at Estonia’s education system.

Excerpt:

What’s interesting: While early childhood education is not compulsory, 95% of three to seven-year-olds attend it. Parents have the right to affordable childcare and education starting at three years old. There’s a national curriculum for early childhood education that includes reading, mathematical, and motor skills.

Agency for learners and educators is the greatest opportunity to transform learning institutions. And Estonian schools have the autonomy to affect change.

If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that education systems are not fixed. They can be redesigned and transformed for the better by all of us.

 

K-12 education in America is like quickly moving trains that stop for no one.

K-12 education in America is like quickly moving trains that stop for no one.

From DSC:
A family member struggles with spelling — big time. This causes her major amounts of anxiety in school.

Another family member had some learning disabilities and reflects back on school with some bad memories.

Another family member struggles with social graces and learns at a much different pace than her peers — the move to her education being (predominantly) done via homeschooling has helped significantly.

A friend of mine has Dyslexia. He recently said that school was hell for him.

Another person I know doesn’t understand his daughter’s learning disabilities — at all. He’s asking a fish to climb the tree and yells at his daughter when she doesn’t produce like the other kids do. Her school is for college-bound learners, and there’s always pressure to maintain the school’s “blue-ribbon” status (i.e., sorry if you don’t fit in…but please board the train anyway, as it’s about to depart).

These people and stories about their educations got me to reflect on all the people who went through the school systems in the United States (over the last few decades) that didn’t work well for them. In fact, not only did the systems not work well for them, they were the sources of a great deal of pain, anxiety, depression, anger, frustration, and embarrassment.  Instead of being a place of wonder or joy, school was a painful, constant struggle to get through.

For those who can keep up or even excel at the pace that the trains travel at, school isn’t that much of a problem. There are likely different levels of engagement involved here, but school is manageable and it doesn’t cause nearly the stress for someone who struggles with it.

For those with learning disabilities, I’d like to apologize to you on behalf of all the people who legislated or created rigid, one-size-fits-all school systems that didn’t understand and/or meet your needs. (Why we allow legislators — who aren’t the ones on the front lines — to control so much of what happens in our school systems is beyond me.) I’d like to apologize on behalf of all of the teachers, administrators, and staff who just accept the systems as they are.

Please help us reinvent our school systems. Help us develop the future of education. Help us develop a more personalized, customized approach. For those who are working to provide that, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

To everyone working within Pre-K through 12th grade, help us offer: More voice. More choice. More control. The status quo has to go. School should not be a constant source of pain and anxiety.

Learners need: More voice. More choice. More control. -- this image was created by Daniel Christian

 

 

Race on Campus: What Colleges Are Doing About the Shortage of Black Teachers — from chronicle.com by Oyin Adedoyin

Excerpts:

Welcome to Race on Campus. Research has shown that Black students who have one Black teacher by third grade are more likely to graduate high school and enroll in college. But Black teachers — especially Black men — are in short supply. Our Oyin Adedoyin explains what colleges are doing in response.

Initiatives like the one at Alabama A&M have popped up at other colleges across the county, attempting to attract more minority male teachers by alleviating some of the challenges. This month, the New Jersey education department announced a similar program in partnership with Rowan University’s College of Education with “a specific focus on men from disadvantaged or minority backgrounds,” the university’s website said. In July 2021, California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom and lawmakers allocated $350 million in the budget for one-time grants for the 2021-22 academic school year to expand existing teacher residency programs, EdSource reported. And Maryland also recently implemented its Teaching Fellows for Maryland Scholarship aimed at reducing the financial barriers that stand between Black students and a teaching degree.

 

What Educators Need to Know About Assistive Tech Tools: Q&A with Texthelp CEO — from thejournal.com by Kristal Kuykendall and Texthelp CEO Martin McKay

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

THE Journal: What are some examples of the types of assistive technology tools now available for K–12 schools?
McKay: There are a broad range of disabilities, and accordingly, a broad range of learning and access difficulties that assistive technology can help with. Just considering students with dyslexia — since that is the largest group among students who can benefit from assistive tech tools — the main problems they have are around reading comprehension and writing. Assistive technology can provide text-to-speech, talking dictionaries, picture dictionaries, and text simplification tools to help with comprehension.

It’s important that these tools need to work everywhere — not just in their word processor. Assistive technology must work in their learning management systems, and must work in their online assessment environment, so that the student can use the assistive tech tools not only in class, but at home as they work on their homework, and perhaps most importantly on test day when they are using a secure assessment environment.

 

Seeing the possibilities, I finally took a chance. I studied English, political science and finite math, and each class I passed deepened my confidence and self-love.

This growing self-love was key to my academic development. Growing up, I didn’t experience much real love, outside of my mother and a few family members. I most often encountered the kind of false love expressed through violence and monetary possessions. College changed the way I thought about myself and others. I worked hand-in-hand with men from all backgrounds to complete assignments, and even taught other students. Before I knew it, I was getting A’s on my essays and solving quadratic equations in math class.

When people question why it’s important to educate prisoners, I remind them that to see change, we must support change. We must give individuals the opportunity to see themselves as more than the harm they’ve caused, more than what was once broken within them.

Christopher Blackwell

Also relevant/see:

Calvin University's Prison Initiative

 

University Behind Bars

 

5 Tips for Educators From The Superintendent of the Year — from techlearning.com by Erik Ofgang
Superintendent of the Year Curtis Cain advises educators to keep alive the spirit of innovation that emerged during the pandemic and to remember how important the work they do is.

Superintendent of the Year Curtis Cain

Excerpt:

Keep Alive the Spirit of Innovation 
“The brain, once stretched, never returns to its initial size,” says Cain of the ways that schools have changed. His advice to staff in his district and beyond is to keep alive the spirit of innovation that was born in the pandemic.

“The needs of students have absolutely become more complex and more nuanced. And in many ways more urgent than they have been in the past,” he says. “So we’re going to have to keep having the ability to demonstrate a willingness to sit at the table, to problem solve.”

 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian