I recently received Improving Student Learning One Teacher at a Time by Jane Pollock (My ASCD Book of the month). Last year at this time I received Classroom Instruction that Works as my Spring ASCD book. Both of these books have helped me become a better teacher by giving me data to support research based instructional practices. This new book goes even farther, by providing a framework for designing curriculum called, “The Teaching Schema for Master Learners.”
Pollock argues that a good curriculum is defined by having clear expectations (Goals), setting up good instructional models, assessing work, and providing feedback. I see this work as a management style for adults, or a classroom environment for students. I see this pattern: goals, instruction (conversation), assessment, feedback, in Management books such as Good to Great or Now Here are My Strenghts. It’s amazingly flexible and seems to be a process that is running through many different realms of my life.
So why am I writing? Because this data conflicts with a survey on David Warlick’s blog where he asks, “Thinking of those great teachers that you had who truly influenced who you are today. What percentage of what those teachers did do you think might be effectively measured by scientific research, and what percent do you think is not measurable?” and out of 169 respondents he has received the following results:
100% measurable – 0% not measurable:(4%)
75% measurable – 25% not measurable:(12%)
50% measurable – 50% not measurable:(27%)
25% measurable – 75% not measurable:(45%)
0% measurable – 100% not measurable:(13%)
I answered 75% measurable and 25% not measurable. I find survey results like the one above concerning, because 58% of the respondents say that less than 25% teaching skills of great teachers can be measured by scientific research. I just find this hard to believe when reading books like Improving Student Learning One Teacher at a Time and Classroom Instruction that Works. I believe that there is a type of person that will be a good teacher, but I also believe that these natural teachers can get much better when using current research.
I believe it when Warlick asys that we need to re-define literacy, and learn to use the immense resources on the Internet as part of our schooling. I believe it when Richardson says that we need to Re-Envision Schools due to the new Flat World.
But there are clear processes and techniques that are research based that seem to me to benefit learners in our classrooms. I believe that the best teachers will be looking to use these procedures of curriculum design as found in Improving Student Learning One Teacher to create wonderful learning environments for their students. The declarative knowledge (content) can varied from the most progressive to the most traditional.
I believe that goal of School 2.0 can be the same as President John Adams, “There are two types of education. One should teach us how to make a living, And the other how to live.” I believe we can get there in many different ways. I believe that you can use Pollock’s system to define varied schools.
So what do you think?
How does this apply to learning communities such that don’t have clear leadership such as open source projects?