Tag: Teacher

On the important difference between hitchhiking and bandwagon-jumping.

Double Yellow Lines

Image CC-BY-NC-SA pitty.platsch @ Flickr

I’ll admit it. From 2004 up to about 2007 I was a bandwagon-jumper. I wanted to be the early adopter, the first to use pretty much anything to do with educational technology in the classroom. But that came at a cost. That cost – and it’s difficult for me to admit this to myself – was borne by my students who had a teacher who was too focused on the shiny shiny and not learning outcomes.

The trouble with bandwagon-jumping is that you’re not entirely sure where that bandwagon is headed; whether it fits in with where you want you and your students need to go; whether it’s potentially dangerous territory to head into. The bandwagon may be driven by sensible, rationale people in it for the long-haul, or you could be left stranded in the middle of nowhere by overnight cowboys. That’s not a safe place for teachers or students to be – even in a metaphorical sense.

Much better then to be a hitchhiker. The hitchhiker knows where they want to go. They don’t mind the odd detour or two so long as they get there. Whilst the destination is of ultimate importance, the journey is also important and life-enriching. So too educators who choose to be metaphorical hitchhikers. Sometimes we can ‘go it alone’ with our classes to blaze new trails to destinations, but often it’s better (and safer) to stick with others and figure things out together.

So if others use new technologies, websites and services before me, that’s fine. I’ll use them when it’s time for me to head that way, when my own or my classes investigations necessitate us exploring those areas.

Until then, I’ll leave the bandwagons to others. :-p

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The very best of teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk

A couple of private messages and a comment on a previous post on this blog made me realise something the other day. Here I am assuming that readers of dougbelshaw.com are aware that I blogged for two years solely on teaching and education-related stuff at teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk. It would appear that this is not the case. And why should it be? After all, I make very little mention of it here.

So what follows is a roundup of what you missed between 2005 and the end of 2007. Hope you find something useful! πŸ˜€

According to the Most Popular Posts plugin still installed at teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk, the most visited posts are (in order) :

  1. How to write an application letter for a teaching-related job
  2. Online Storage
  3. I can’t teach properly
  4. 20 Ideas: Getting students to use their mobile phones as learning tools
  5. Interesting Desktop Backgrounds
  6. 10 Top Behaviour Management Tips
  7. WikiMapia.org
  8. 8 things that irritate me with edublogs
  9. Weekly Roundup (3 September 2006) – 1 – Theory
  10. Using Twitter with your students

There’s a few posts in there – numbers 2, 5 and 7, for example – that are there because of general Internet searches unrelated to education. Most of the rest in this list gained some traction due to being referenced on one or more sites with a larger number of readers! :-p

My all-time Top 10

1. The kind of school in which I want to work…

I referenced this post recently. In it, I attempt to explain the type of education system and school I want to be a part of. I compare teachers to being like ‘lifeguards’. Creating the graphics for this post and coming up with the metaphor helped clarify my thinking a great deal!

2. I can’t teach properly

I spend a lot of my time frustrated in life, but I’ve learned to live with it. In this post, I poured out this frustration in a way that seemed to strike a chord with quite a few other educators (judging by the comments!).

3. 5 reasons why I love teaching

Despite being frequently frustrated, I do actually love teaching. Most of the time, it doesn’t even feel like a job. Before we had Ben a couple of years ago, I would frequently tell Hannah (my wife) that I’d do it for free! That’s obviously changed a bit now that I have dependents, but the actual interfacing with young people, their enthusiasm and lack of fear to ask questions, is so refreshing. πŸ™‚

4. 1 year on… How has blogging affected my life as a teacher?

I started blogging in 2005 after having read the blogs of other educators for a good while and commenting on them. My blogging regularly – usually every day – began when I was off work at my previous school due to stress. Connecting with educators worldwide made such a difference, and 2006 ended up being a great year. πŸ˜€

5. Infectious Learning: Teachers as Lifelong Learners

I’m a firm believer in teachers being allowed the time to be learners too. In fact, I think it’s essential to prevent stagnation. This post was sparked from an exchange during an interview in which the Head of a school I shall not name stated he was ‘somewhat suspicious’ that I’d remained in full-time education (when I did my MA in Modern History) ‘longer than I had needed to’. The post outlines four reasons why teachers need to be effective learners.

6. Digital Natives, Mountain Men and Pioneers

During 2006 I became increasingly tired of seeing both in blog posts and ‘academic’ research the terms ‘digital immigrant’ and ‘digital native’. This post was a follow-up to an earlier post in which I called the dichotomy a false one and suggested an alternative.

7. Do textbooks hamper 21st-century learning?

This post was in response to a call by Wes Fryer for a moratorium on the purchase of new textbooks. Others, such as Stephen Downes and Vicki Davis had joined in the debate. I looked at the ins-and-outs of textbook usage, adding that I managed to burn myself out during my first year and-a-bit of teaching by seeing textbooks as evil things that should be avoided. A blended approach is a much better option… πŸ™‚

8. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers

There’s nothing like a good-old ‘list’ post! This one goes through, unsurprisingly, the seven ‘habits’ I believe teachers I would class as ‘effective’ and – dare I say it – inspirational teachers possess.

9. Homework-casting using del.icio.us

I don’t think I would have included this post in my Top 10 was it not for a conversation during last week’s EdTechRoundup FlashMeeting. I suggested a couple of years ago a possible method for automatic resource-delivery to students via RSS of homework/coursework materials. Theoretically, you should be able to deliver any type of file via RSS – not just audio, video and PDFs. Unfortunately, I’m still not aware of any program that allows the automatic downloading of any type of file enclosed in the RSS feed. πŸ™

10. Yearly Roundup – The 20 best edublog posts of 2006

I used to really enjoy doing my weekly, monthly and yearly roundups of the edublogosphere. There’s two reasons why I can’t do that any more. First, I have less time these days – what with my son, working for educational publishers in my ‘spare’ time, and an additional role in school. Second, the edublogosphere has (happily) expanded greatly in the last couple of years. It’s just impossible to keep up… πŸ˜‰

What are YOUR favourite posts on your blog(s)?

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Is a degree enough?

There are some very intelligent people in the world without any qualifications. There are also some people who, shall we say, we wouldn’t want on our Trivial Pursuit team or to be assigned with for a team-building exercise. That being said, there has, historically, been a correlation between ‘intelligence’ (whatever that is) and level of education. I fear that may no longer be the case… :s

This is not a post bemoaning degrees in surfing or golf. No, I’m more concerned with the rather 19th-century idea of degrees being ‘of a standard’ and that these can universally be broken down into 1st class, 2:1, 2:2, etc. If this were the case, then the necessity of having met such a standard should be a necessary and sufficient condition for entry onto a postgraduate teacher training course such as the PGCE in the UK. I don’t think anyone would argue against the fact that some degrees are easier, some harder, and some provide skills more and some less relevant to teaching.

In that case, why should a degree plus a short-course, vocational postgraduate qualification be enough? Surely there should be a requirement, more than merely an expectation, that teachers work towards at least a Masters level postgraduate qualification in education? Or, if compulsion is not a feasible option, why not at least explicitly recognise further qualifications with pay rises? I believe this is common practice in most places in the US, and whilst there are many things about their system I don’t think we should import, this is one I would welcome with open arms.

“That’s easy for you to say,” I hear you cry, “you’re doing an Ed.D!” This is true. But how did I come to be doing this qualification? By choosing my PGCE carefully so that it was the first year of an MA; by continuing to a level where I could switch to the Ed.D. course, and then continuing my studies. Apparently, I’m the first person to do this at the University of Durham. I can’t see why it shouldn’t be a heavily-suggested (and rewarded) path for the majority of teachers.

OK, so theory doesn’t always lead to amazing practice – I know that. But surely such a scheme couldn’t be a bad thing? Look at Finland, a place where the top graduates end up in the teaching profession. Where does it come in international rankings? Oh yes, pretty much top every time… :p

What do YOU think? What would you change about the current system?

(Image credit: Out to Lunch with Audio R8 by Gregor Rohrig @ Flickr)

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