Thursday, October 15, 2009

Deepening Professional Practice: teachers as learners, teachers as leaders

Example of the simulations teacher can do to deepen the professional practice of learning
Abstract for a paper i intend to write Teachers' Conferences

To deepen the professional practice of physics educators, we seek to highlight the Open Source Physics (OSP) and Easy Java Simulation (Ejs) community of educators that engage, enable and empower teachers as learners so that we can be leaders in our teaching practice. We learnt through Web 2 online collaborative means to developed simulations together with reputable physicists through the open source digital library. By examining the open source codes of the simulation through the Ejs toolkit, we are able to examine and make sense of the physics from the computational models created by practicing physicists. We will share some of the simulations that we have remixed from existing library of simulations models into suitable learning environments for inquiry of physics. We consider these as viable options for meaningful ICT embedding of hands-on learning into curriculum. We have conducted virtual laboratory lesson with 5 classes of 78 students in River Valley High in Mar 2009 and will be sharing some of the feedback from them on the lesson experience.

Found this amazing article

Problem Statement:

No unified direction as to where we need to head in education.
Lack of direction in aiming towards best practices in education,
Lack of direction in how we should best utilize professional learning time.

Control and Degree of Ownership. 

Current Situation:
Traditionally, educational systems and their leaders have prided themselves in their abilities to create quality professional development sessions that have been intended for the masses; a great majority of teachers. I don’t think this works anymore.

The real world today:
We simply have too much choice, and that is a good thing. Let’s embrace our power of choice. It is time for educational systems and their leaders to understand that TEACHERS ARE LIFE-LONG LEARNERS. It is time to give up the control over how PD time is to be spent. We need to pass this control over to the individual teachers who, as dedicated life-long learners, will ultimately decide what their best possible learning path is, and how they should best go about it. This is how true PD will take place. Teachers must be invested in their learning in order for it to take place. A growing number of teachers are finding many current PD opportunities are simply not engaging.

Scenario A. 
A PD session is implemented with mandatory attendance from all staff members. The PD session is designed in a sort of ‘top down’ approach in which the direction was decided upon by an educational leader. The topic is yet another of several ‘new initiatives’. The session is well attended, and many staff members contribute to the discussion, however others are not engaged, even sowing buttons on shirts in the back of the room.

Scenario B. 
A block of time is set aside for PD opportunities to take place. Staff members were given advance notice and ample time to ‘choose their own adventure’. Some staff members have decided to drive to other schools in the system to meet with teachers with a similar focus. One group in particular meets to learn photography techniques from a teacher who has already set up a successful photography program. Other teachers decide to head to their classrooms. One teacher uses his lap-top to watch a lecture from professor Michael Wesch via Ustream. Another spends time watching a few TED Talks videos about creativity [like Ken Robinson's, or Elizabeth Gilbert's]. A small group of teachers meet to discuss potential recycling and composting projects to be implemented in the school. One of the teachers in this group logs in to Tapped In, and they meet up with a couple of other teachers in another city who have already begun similar projects. Another teacher browses through a list of new Web 2.0 tools and begins to play with software she was not familiar with. Several others meet in the library for a more traditional and guided PD session and discussion about literacy. From these example scenarios, it is my opinion that the second involves a higher level of professional development. More teachers are engaged in their learning, as they’ve had control over the design of their learning path. In order for this to happen, we need to change our outlook about PD. We need to understand that professional learning can take place on-line. We need to understand that PD can be solitary, and that professional learning can take place by watching quality lectures or YouTube and TedTalk videos.

It’s time to give the control of professional learning over to the professional who is to be learning.

My thoughts:
Look at my blog and tell me about Life Long Learning - Professional Learning, Open source physics defines me and i am learning so much that only my portfolio blog can express the details of my journey.