In my previous blog, This is a School that Johnny Wants to Attend, I wrote about Johnny’s new school, an environment designed to optimize real-world learning experiences to better engage and better prepare kids for tomorrow’s workplace. In that scenario, Johnny spent a lot more time out of the classroom learning from community experts and also had more people coming into his class to share knowledge and guide Johnny and his classmates through different projects during the school year.
A key component to this new model is the vital role of the teacher(s) as Johnny makes his way through the educational continuum from elementary to high school; on the college and finally, to the workplace.
Who are Johnny’s teachers and what do they do every day?
Johnny’s classroom teacher is integral to his educational journey. The classroom teacher plays a central role in his everyday life at school, is his main point of contact in the system, and provides the bulk of the instruction and facilitation within that environment. Whether the classroom teacher is leading a flipped classroom activity, reviewing an assignment with the whole class or small groups, or is sitting and assisting students one-on-one as they work on individual learning programs as part of the school’s blended curriculum, her presence and skillset is significant.
The classroom teacher also interacts with students on e-learning days when the kids are at home and working on individual or peer group projects and also accompanies her class on the majority of the out-of-the-building visits to neighborhood businesses, museums, etc. The classroom teacher interacts with all the other people on this list as part of a team of teachers supporting Johnny’s educational experience.
At Johnny’s school, each grade has a curriculum curator who is responsible for coordinating the activities that comprise his and his classmates’ daily learning experiences. This curator works with school leadership and classroom teachers to ensure that learning objectives are being met and that a good blend of activities is being used to achieve this. This includes working with the instructional teams to target effective online instructional materials and to arrange for mentors and visits to local businesses, museums, etc.
The Library Media Specialist
Formally known as the school librarian, the library media specialist plays a vital role in Johnny’s education. As today’s students have more and more exposure to information, the library media specialist must provide the guidance that kids need to navigate the digital landscape, making careful choices and selections along the way.
The library media specialist works with Johnny’s teachers and the curriculum coordinator to help build curriculum using the latest tools at their disposal and makes critical decisions in the design of the library space, helping to turn it into a more collaborative, “maker” environment.
Johnny’s mentor might be a local business owner, a digital game developer, doctor, etc. and plays a vital role in expanding Johnny’s universe beyond the school building itself. As part of his course of study, Johnny sees his mentor on a regular basis, as well as interacting with his mentor online, and gets support for projects he may be working on, college and career exploration, etc.
In Johnny’s new school, the community plays a more integral role in his education. Now, on a more frequent basis, during the school day, he and his classmates are visiting local businesses and learning more about how they operate and what the different employees do. As Johnny gets older, he will intern at one or another of these places to get more first-hand experience. Neighborhoods and neighbors have traditionally played, to different degrees, a role in the education of its community; in this model, we are looking to incorporate this informal role of support into the experience of each child in order to extend the universe of support and experiential learning that each child receives during his or her school years.
In Johnny’s new school, his classroom teacher and curriculum curator plan for a number of projects that the students engage in over the course of the school year. The projects may include building a model village, designing and creating new products for a specific industry, preparing certain types of meals, developing a simple computer game, etc. The projects are managed by a single or team of experts in their respected fields. Their work with the students may take place within the school or at a local studio, museum, etc.
Physical Education Teacher
Physical education is an important component of Johnny’s new school, and his physical education teacher has an evolving role as do the rest of his colleagues. In order for Johnny and his classmates to develop an overall healthy lifestyle, his physical education teacher works with the rest of the team to ensure that the kids are getting a balance of health education and exercise that is integrated rather than isolated from the rest of the program. He might be teaming with the outside chef doing a unit on healthy, sustainable cuisine; or he might be exploring new technological resources such as “exergaming” with the curriculum curator or others.
As learning models evolve, classrooms are flipped, and schools develop healthier relationships with companies supporting the educational process, the role of teaching must evolve as well. A single classroom teacher cannot and should not shoulder the weight of the learning experience for any one child. And as the classroom teacher’s role changes, so do the roles of others within the buildings as well. As those roles grow, introducing more resources becomes vital. Just as corporate learning specialists have acknowledged the need for a growing network of continuous learning support in the workplace, schools are beginning to recognize the value of expanding the resources they work with to provide a balanced educational experience for our children.
This is a good thing for Johnny.
Stay tuned to Designs2Learn for more on the changing educational landscape.