Book Notes & Thoughts: Inevitable, Mass Customized Learning

inevitable

They apparently couldn’t choose a title, so there are three:

Inevitable

Mass Customized Learning (MCL)

Learning in the Age of Empowerment

by Charles Schwahn & Beatric McGarvey

I’ll admit, I did more skimming on this one than usual as it is meant to be a vision to practice manual and I’m not actually working in a school right now. I’ve also been part of a research group studying personalized learning schools for the past year, which means I’ve heard and seen a lot of these stories. I think for teachers and leaders in traditional school settings, however, this could be a powerful book for reimagining what learning can look like. The authors do a nice job of pairing vignettes from multiple perspectives – students, teachers, parents, leaders – with specifics about support systems or assumptions that we make.

One of the most compelling and frustrating aspects of educational change is that “we all know these things. Yet, our behaviors do not support them.” (p.82) When you finally see the disconnect between the way we do school and the way we choose to do the rest of our lives, from shopping to listening to music to hanging out with friends, you can’t stop seeing it. Some people might challenge that school shouldn’t be the same as real life – it’s “work” after all, whatever that means. I was recently reading over an interview with one of the teachers in our study and she said that her former colleagues keep commenting how she looks so much more relaxed and happy this year. It seems we are all perpetuating a system that stresses us out (kids, parents, teachers, and leaders included) just because that’s the way it is and always has been? So much of what we do – one test for all kids, writing papers and getting feedback a week later, sitting in lectures – isn’t actually the best way to do it. If our purpose is to facilitate learning, if this is the function of schools, then the form of our schools needs to follow this (p.78). Capitalizing on the technology and resources that are already at our disposal means that it’s possible.

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Org Theory Reading Reflection 2: Teacher Turnover and Teacher Shortages

From https://thosewhoteach.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/blameteachers.jpg

This week’s assignment was to choose one article to summarize and analyze.

Ingersoll, R. M. (2001). Teacher Turnover and Teacher Shortages: An Organizational Analysis, American Educational Research Journal. 38(3): 499-534.

Having not yet taken Intro to Quantitative Methods, I still feel like I don’t quite grasp the full picture of articles like this because I don’t understand all the methods, but it helps that the article’s argument is clear and laid out logically from the literature review. Ingersoll articulates how his research is a departure from what has typically been done, which has been studies of the characteristics of teachers, versus a study from an organizational perspective. Essentially, he asks whether there are organizational conditions of schools associated with turnover. He uses data from the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and the supplement, Teacher Followup Survey (TFS). Importantly, the TFS is a subset, those who had moved from or left their teaching jobs, were contacted after 12 months later to fill out a second questionnaire, along with a representative subset of teachers who stayed in their teaching jobs.

Some key findings:

  • Hiring difficulties were not primarily due to shortages in qualified teachers.
  • Demand for new teachers more often due to “preretirement turnover.”
  • School-to-school differences in turnover is significant: “Schools that do report difficulties in filling their openings are almost twice as likely to have above-average turnover rates” (p. 515)
  • Private schools have higher turnover rates than public schools.
  • Predictors of turnover, after controlling for teacher characteristics, are likely to be teachers under 30 or over 50.
  • In public schools, higher raters of turnover in high-poverty schools as compared to more affluent schools.

In particular, I liked the approach he took of distinguishing between “movers” and “leavers” because both have an impact on the schools they leave. I will say that quantitative articles always leave me hanging when they make interesting conclusions: but did you talk to any teachers? It feels like a first step in the study but an incomplete story in the process of understanding what is happening.

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Goals and Resolutions

I just stumbled upon the “MS 2 Year Tech Plan” for 2012-2014 that I wrote two years ago. Apparently I internalized what I wrote down, because without looking at this for awhile, we’re making quite a bit of progress!

Major Goals:

1. Using the curriculum design, think through/evaluate new initiatives around programming & computational thinking and online/blended classroom environments – evaluating specifically amount of time expected for students, where resources are.

  • SimCity is well established in the 7th grade science curriculum
  • Minecraft is installed on all computers and kids have been using it in 6th humanities to sketch out their India buildings
  • Participation in Computer Science Education Week: I taught at least 45 minutes of coding to every single student and have carried on several lessons into 6th tech
  • Several teachers using flipped classroom models – mostly (to be honest) without any direct support from me

2. Parent partnership

  • Very well attended session on Instagram
  • Parent speed-geeking session that was well received
  • Upcoming session with a social media professional and another one on gaming

3. Personal

  • I’m continuing to blog and share – I was excited at how well my ICC Reflection was received by the committee
  • I’ve elaborated on the topics on my “Engaging Beyond” page
  • I updated my resume and wrote my personal statement
  • I’ve presented at two conferences and joined the executive committee for the ISTE Special Interest Group for Independent Schools
  • Supported teachers in fostering their own professional development, whether through encouraging presenting or developing their online presence through a portfolio or social media account
  • I took two MOOCs this fall, one on comic books and graphic novels and the other on video games and learning. I learned A LOT, shared a lot of the resources, and it fueled my energy for learning.

What we haven’t done:

  • Assessing what we already do through the lens of pre-production, production, post-production, publication
  • We still don’t have a curriculum design for technology pK-teachers
  • Students publishing online

Resolutions: What would I like to get done this spring?

  • Articulate the pK-teacher technology curriculum
  • More opportunities for teachers to see the value of Minecraft and integrate it into their curriculum
  • Curriculum opportunities for programming
  • Proposal for 8th grade rotation class in video game design, app design, social media, and 3D modeling