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Monday, August 09, 2010

Is Teacher Education Addressing the Needs of Future Teachers?

How do we effect change in our schools if our Teacher Education programs just keep doing more of the same? We talk about changing the learning environments of our schools, but where is the paradigm changing in our Teacher Education institutions?  A new set of standards (INTASC) are being released to guide teacher education programs, but will it make difference?
Teachers tend to teach the way they were taught. Learning experiences will have a greater effect on a teacher's teaching style than all the textbooks in the world. We can't fully appreciate a different learning experience unless we personally experience that experience. New teachers won't teach differently in their classrooms unless they have learned in a different manner and found it to be a positive experience. In short, we won't see change in our schools until we change how we prepare new teachers.
Last week I attended the School Administrators of Iowa (SAI) conference in Des Moines as a representative of our Iowa Technology and Education Connection (ITEC) organization.  I spoke with scores of administrators who told me that they are in the process of exploring and/or implementing a  1-to-1 computer learning environment. When I asked them how they were going to change their curriculum and pedagogical strategies so that the technology-enriched environment would actually make a change in how their students learned, most of them chuckled and said "We're still trying to figure that out."
Technology doesn't make the difference.  It provides the opportunities for education to be different. It is truly the teaching/learning strategies that make the difference.  But if we haven't defined the teachers' knowledge, skills and attitudes that are needed to successfully support a different technology-enriched learning environment, how can we provide a preservice teaching program to address these needs?
A Teacher Education program needs to identify what skills and tools need to be mastered to effectively work in a 1-to-1 learning environment and then they need to teach/use those methods in the classes they teach.  It's as simple as that.
I made a drastic change in the way I taught my Emerging Instructional Technology course this summer.  I have spoken on it at ISTE '10, but haven't blogged on it yet. It changed the way I plan to teach all of my courses and such an insight into how learning can be different is something that all teacher education professors should acquire.
This posting is part of the ongoing self-inquiry I am going through to become a better teacher. You might remember my first posting, How Do I Move to an Inquiry-Based Form of Teaching/Learning?
What are your ideas about this?  Do you know a source for finding/identifying the necessary knowledge/skills/attitudes/tools for optimizing a technology-rich learning environment?
What do you think?
Z

photo:http://illinoiseducationassociation.org/

6 comments:

  1. Good morning Dr. Z,

    I love your articles on teaching in the technology phase. I am an educator at an online school (don't know if I can put it up here or not) and I am fascinated on learning new teaching tips.

    I could not agree more on your statement, that we tend to teach the way we were taught and the methods that we enjoyed. If I was an auditory learner, then I will have more lectures. What do you propose that I can do reach out to all my students?

    As always, LOVE reading your blog!

    Warmest,
    Lynnette
    lmcdonough@kaplan.edu

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  2. Sure Dr. Z, I have a source: the business world, where I worked for years before becoming an educator in '93. What a difference between my corporate and education experiences when it comes to rolling out new initiatives. It's easy to attribute failure of those initiatives (be it technological or not--e.g., cooperative learning) to people's resistance to change, but we encountered that in business too. The difference is that we addressed it proactively w/high-quality training and ongoing support. Some schools (K-12 and post-secondary) do this too... but not enough.

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  3. Dr. Z,

    Do you think that if these schools go to 1-to-1 will force the educators to deal with and plan with this technology since it is now a part of the classroom? I mean if it is staring them in the face every day do you think they could possibly ignore it?

    It certainly is an exciting time to be an educator!

    Patrick Cauley
    IT Babble

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  4. Having computers in the classroom will not be enough. If the teachers and school districts don't change their curricula in a way that will integrate the computers effectively, they will use them for a year or two and then consider it another educational experiment gone bad.

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  5. Coach G,

    I am with you. Schools need to have proper professional development to make the 1:1 happen. They also need to have the vision that will direct their PD and provide them with outcomes that they can use to evaluate their success.

    Dr. Z

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  6. Or, in the case at East, we have ONE computer lab with about 30 computers and ONE mobile lab that has about 30 computers, and 15 of them do not function. So, for a school of about 1100 students, we have about 45 functioning computers. Oh, and no access to any printers. So, how does this help our students? How are we reaching them? Consequently, I have my students all write their assignments for me, and we use our Prometheans for everything else. I have gotten far more out of my Atomic learning account than my district PD. Not that my PD isn't high quality, I am just a timid learner when it comes to technology, and I can go back an replay the lessons on Atomic Learning until I am comfortable, but as patient as Ron is (AND THE MAN IS A SAINT), he cannot anticipate all of my insecurities when it comes to technology.

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