Creating Innovators: Is it really about teacher behaviors?

I have been catching up grading this weekend and have been reading my 21st Century masters students discussion posts on the first two chapters of Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner.

As I have switched to badging in my undergraduate course, I am little bummed that their great ideas are trapped in the Janux learning platform because they have great ideas.  (In fact, I invite them to copy and paste their posts to this post as a comment if they want to publicly share)..  I will say that in Summer (their semester 2) they will start blogs and so we realize that their ideas won’t always be trapped behind a paywall.

So in the first two chapters of creating innovators – we begin to ask the questions about learners and what do they really need to be innovative.

One of my students, Laura – Came to an interesting conclusion: “I do not have to change everything I am doing I just need to be creative in how I teach my lessons. I think students should be asking and answering questions.” And that is true, it is as much about changing our own mindset as it to changing the lessons.  Monica builds on that idea when she said, “I don’t think we should limit ourselves to asking “Who” should be asking the questions about innovative education, but perhaps we should look at all how students will answer their own questions? How will we as educators respond to these questions and guide them in their journey to find their answers?”  In the end, great student centered teaching is not about the students, its about us breaking of the safe and traditional ways of teaching that we are used to, and forcing ourselves out of our teacher centered experiences, into student centered teaching behaviors.

So just after reading their responses, this popped in my twitter feed.  Sherratsam wrote a blog post about guiding students in innovative practices.  http://linkis.com/wordpress.com/rhUJz  He talks about the sweet spot when you get students to go further =when you get them to work on their projects and the teacher is there as a coach to push them further.  He finishes his blog post with  set of questions.  I view these statements as a generalized scaffolding that we as educators can use to think about our role in the classroom.

Copied and Pasted From the Blog Post:  For modern, student-centred, inquiry-based pedagogy to even begin to dominate our weekly schedules, we need to help our students go through the following process quickly enough to allow them the time to start doing and to be able to go into enough depth with that for genuine and powerful learning to come out of it:

  • help them understand the context of the learning
  • help them think about the context in diverse, rich and deep ways
  • help them filter all of that thinking in order to develop their own interest area and focus
  • help them figure out what they want to achieve within that focus
  • help them get started in order to achieve it

What strikes me about this, is the scaffolding that he is providing is really questions to ask yourself and your own teaching behaviors – Am I helping them  to better understand the problem and getting out their way to push them further.

I find that when I am trying to force myself into more student centered behaviors, I set prompts for myself in my teaching – little reminders to myself.

For example, when I am teaching in our innovative learning classroom – I find myself asking myself whenever I want to do a demo – Do I have to be the one showing this?  Could a student be showing?  I try to leave my iPad closed all hour – because I can walk my students through the problem..  and if I can’t, then I explain that to them..  (Ie.. I am not sure how to do this,  let me show you how I try to solve a problem like this..)

So the question I got from reading the blog and my student response to the first two chapters of creating innovators – what kinds of questions of could I ask to achieve the goals listed above?

 

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