Do heroic teachers solve anything?
Teachers can be heroes to many, certainly teachers seem larger than life to many students. However, if we plan to solve the ills that plague education, is the solution to hire more hero teachers? Can we count on every employee to go above and beyond on their own motivation?
The solution is clearly not to put all the responsibility on the shoulders of a few teachers who go above and beyond. However, we can learn from those teachers. We can spread those methods. In order to spread ideas and share, we need communities. The very same thing we are a part of in our everyday lives outside the classroom. A community. We are not all police officers or firemen. We can all help in different ways, though. They teach us how to stay safe and we can teach their children, or cook their food. We share the responsibility of the group by creating a community we call society. Why do we insist on battling the problems of education alone? Educators are in this together. We should help each other because the goal of our jobs is not to gain glory, otherwise you would not be a teacher. It is not to get rich, otherwise you would not be a teacher. It is to educate the future generations to play a role in the society when they enter into it, whether it's a job or a leader of a movement for change. To make sure there is collaboration and support for teachers schools and/or districts can create professional learning communities (PLC) to share ideas and experiences to spread best practices throughout the school. Below is my proposal for an online PLC at my school to aid in the transition to a flipped class model.
Proposal for Wikispaces PLC
Unlike simply collaborating amongst teachers a professional learning community (PLC) is a system of collaboration for the purpose of professional development. “The powerful collaboration that characterizes professional learning communities is a systematic process in which teachers work together to analyze and improve their classroom practice” (DuFour, 2004). How can Cheongwon Elementary School utilize a PLC for improving the school by way of teacher collaboration? We can build an online PLC with wikispaces (https://www.wikispaces.com).
Wikispaces is a wiki builder that can facilitate a PLC by letting teachers post ideas, videos, and many other kinds of media for the sake of sharing ideas. It will be a fully collaborative online setting where teachers can share their ideas about what works and what does not. They can share their ideas and collaborate on new ones. They will also be building the technological know-how to help their students with 21st century problems as well. “The Maryland Electronic Learning Community (MELC) is an example of a teacher development and support group built upon the notion of formal training in technology integration and linked with continuing collaboration and support” (Fulton, 1999). Continued collaboration benefits the school because the teachers are building a better set of tools for teaching and the students benefit because they are getting the best solutions for their learning needs because the teachers are helping each other.
It will work in the same way that wikipedia works, but on a smaller scale and not public. Teachers will create an entry for a method of instruction, content idea, or other teaching related topic. They will add the relevant information and how they have used it. There, teachers will be able to edit and add their own experience with the same technique. Teachers can comment and collaborate around these ideas being specific about their use of it. Eventually, there will be a wealth of information on the wiki for new teachers to pull from and, as they use it, they will continue to add to it. There are many examples of using a wiki in this way. From UNC, “The third-grade team uses their wiki to post links to teacher and student sites for upcoming topics. Members of the PLC explore the links on their own time, and each teacher chooses which sites to use in the coming days and weeks” (Linton, n.d.). This will be larger than a typical once in awhile PLC meeting within a school because it will be on-going and asynchronous. Teachers will be able to add or pull from it anytime of day and night. They will be able to add to it right after a class while the experience is fresh in their memories, instead of waiting until the meeting and taking notes.
An example of building a technological base comes from North Carolina. “Teachers, university faculty, prospective teachers, and graduate students learn technological skills in the context of developing the modules” (Fulton, 1999). The very process of using a wiki can help teachers understand the technology and communication methods students understand and are using. This helps teachers feel more confident in their use of technology in the classroom.
DuFour, R. (2004, May). What is a professional learning community? Educational Leadership. ASCD. Vol. 61 No. 8. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may04/vol61/num08/What-Is-a-Professional-Learning-Community¢.aspx
Fulton, K. P. (1999, May). Collaborative online continuing education: Professional development through learning communities. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/professional-development-through-learning-communities
Linton, J. (n.d.). Building and maintaining an online professional learning community. K-12 Teaching and Learning from the UNC School of Education. Retrieved from http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/7012