Ideas, Influence, Impact

Posts tagged ‘learning facilitator’

Teachers as Validators of Learning

As I continue to read about competency-based education and personalized learning, I continue to see a shift in education for the role of teachers.  For years, we have discussed that teachers should not be the “sages on the stage” but rather “the guides on the sides.”  We continue to discuss that teachers should be facilitators of learning.  They should support students in developing metacognitive skills, and they should help students apply knowledge instead of just teaching content.


As we continue to transform our industrial, factory-style model of education to a more personalized learning ecosystem, I am excited and intrigued with the transformation of the teaching profession as well.  I believe that for a truly personalized learning system to occur, teachers will need to let go of some of their “instructional” duties as currently defined.  There are so many opportunities to gain knowledge and practice skills beyond the scope of the classroom, that teachers will need to do less “teaching” and more validating.  No one, especially I, believes that the role of the teacher will be less in a personalized learning system.  I think the role will change.  In fact, I am inclined to believe the stature of an educator will actually grow.


As teachers will be called upon to check the learning progress of students, to see that the students are meeting the learning expectations of the school system whether through blended learning, direct instruction, or community internships, it will be teachers that will be looked to to validate the learning of the students.  Teachers will need to have strong content knowledge, learning styles knowledge and assessment techniques.  The stature of teaching should increase as more specialized skill sets will be needed in a new personalized learning ecosystem.  It is only be teachers who will have the brain research, the social skills knowledge, the content knowledge and the pedagogical knowledge to truly determine the extent of a student’s learning progress.


As we move toward a more personalized learning system, I am excited that the role of the teacher will be enhanced not minimized.  I am excited that new skill sets will be developed, and teachers, once again, will be at the forefront of the education profession.  I look forward to their leadership being validated – as it should be.


The Student Creates the Teacher?

In his book, Community:  The Structure of Belonging, Peter Block discusses the notion of inversion.  Simply put, it is the notion of looking at situations from the alternative standpoint.  A classic example is the phrase, “the inmates run the prison” suggesting that the system that was designed for the inmates is actually created by the inmates.  Block gives other examples of inversion, such as “the student creates the teacher.” Imagine if this were true.

As the education system continues to move more and more toward becoming a student-centric system, and competency-based education grows in interest and practice, I think it is important to have a dialogue about whether students are starting to create teachers.  To be clear, I believe there will always be a need for educators, no matter the progress made in online learning, game-based learning, CBE, or other innovations currently on the horizon.  I do think the role  of the educator is changing, though.  Teachers are becoming learning facilitators.  Their role is shifting from ‘instructing’ students to helping students ‘construct’ their own learning.  This shift means more and more that the students and their needs are determining the roles and responsibilities of teachers.

Good teachers have always put the needs of students first.  Now, professional practice is coming close to requiring all educators to respond the same way.  For some, this may cause fear and anxiety.  “If students can control their learning, then what will I do?”  The truth is students should be more involved and responsible for their learning, and teachers will always have more knowledge of the content and of learning procedures.  In truth, I think a student-centric learning system will allow the strengths of all its participants – students, teachers, administrators, parents and community members – to be better utilized.

We need to trust that having students, and their needs, create some of the roles and responsibilities for the teachers (or learning facilitators) of the future may be a great idea.  I can think of worse ways to change a profession.

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