November/December 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 2

What Do Teachers Do?

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Joseph Calmer

There is a quote from the newly published version of the California Framework:

“Teachers and administrators will not only have to consider a new context and programs, but they will need to think differently about their roles and their day-to-day work. The entire educational system will need to consider how to support these shifts throughout teacher and administrator careers (from pre-service to in-service) and how to implement policies and programs to support the transition from the awareness phase of the CA NGSS through and beyond the full implementation phase of the CA NGSS.” (Education, 2016)

This quote is something for us to reflect on. For a long time we’ve demonstrated to students how much we know and we simply were tasked with transmitting our knowledge to them. The Paulo Freire notion of “Banking Education” comes to mind as an analogy to this approach to education (Freire & Ramos, 2014). In his description of this model, teachers “deposit” knowledge to their students. The effect is that true learning does not occur. This model probably is not universally true, but the previous standards were written in such a way that it could occur, and often has.

The new California Framework wrote the standards in such a way that they will try to avoid the Freire Model of Education and approach something else. The standards are 3 Dimensional, aligned to the 5 E Model, and heavy on student thinking and action. In this situation, the student is tasked with demonstrating their knowledge to us, the teacher. That is the significant change in our work that is mentioned in the above quote. Before, we measured how much the students’ retainment of what we gave them. Now we need to measure their learning (outside of what we gave them). Our task is different. We can’t simply check for alignment of what a student’s knowledge is, compared to ours. The scenario is a true paradigm shift, from the every since of the word, is occurring in front of us and we need to change too. We are Copernicus trying to work in Ptolemy’s geocentric world. Our work, in our classrooms, has to change that drastically.

The work we need to do and our experience comes in at a different point than it once did. One of the great emerging tenets to come out of How People Learn is the concept of Expert vs Novice Learners (Bransford et al., 1999). As teachers, we are expert learners. Our work now is to turn novice learners into expert learners. The material we used to teach was good for an era that did not have super computers, smart phones, quantum computing, and a myriad of other things that make everything 5 years ago obsolete. This emergent technology makes resources and information available so conveniently, that we just need to learn how to use them as means rather than the ends themselves.

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Our work, as science teachers etc., will have to change. This work is just beginning. I really like the NGSS standards. I have had to realize that I can’t teach the same way or salvage any old practices. I need to work in a way that will make my classroom a place for learning experiences to emerge. Sometimes that aligns with pacing plans and Common Summative Assessments, sometimes it doesn’t. I have to make a choice: What’s more important getting students to pass a 60 question multiple choice test and “get on schedule” or manage the learning something of value beyond the quarter? As an expert on pedagogy, I can read the room and see what emerges. I have seen the power of using phenomena to drive instruction, that means sometimes going off schedule and introducing new things that emerge. The work of teaching is fundamentally different from an accountant (no criticism, just illuminating a difference in skill sets). When your classroom starts next year what type of work are you going to do?

References

Bransford, J., Pellegrino, J. W., Donovan, S., ebrary, I., National Research Council. Committee on Learning, R., & Educational, P. (1999). How people learn: bridging research and practice. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Education, C. D. o. (2016). 2016 Science Framework Retrieved from http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/sc/cf/scifwprepubversion.asp

Freire, P., & Ramos, M. B. (2014). Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

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In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

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