Sunday, March 13, 2016

Connected Educator... ...Chapter 5: Co-Constructive and Collaborative Learning

Connected Education... ...Chapter 5: Co-Constructive and Collaborative Learning

Times are changing in reference to how students learn in the classroom and how teachers teach.  The adult is no longer the expert in the room, but a facilitator of learning.  It is our responsibility as educators to work together to develop positive and productive learning environments for our students.  The best classroom is created by building our learning together as a team.

(Photo Credit: New York Yankees MLB.Com

"The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime."

Out With the Old, In With the New

A significant source of my learning came from my teachers growing up.  We learned skills such as note taking, short-hand writing, and prioritizing content.  This all came typically from "The Lecture Method."

Check out the following website from the 'Center of Research Teaching, and Learning' on the advantages and disadvantages of lecturing: 

Lecturing: Advantages and Disadvantages of the Traditional Lecture Method
What we are finding is that learning can be done in a different way.  Collaborative learning is taking the education world by storm.  Teachers are working with other teachers, students, professionals, and the community to engage the classroom in active learning.  

As a music educator I am finding it imperative to move towards a new way of teaching.  I am taking the resources of old and adapting them with my own ideas to make a new way of learning.  Students are also involved in the process of this development.  We are co-constructing our learning.

The scene looks like this...
  1. Students put into practice particular fundamentals which apply to the music we are studying.  (Students are performing and demonstrating what they are learning instantly).  These fundamental concepts come from the Bruce Pearson Standard of Excellence Band Method.
  2. Based on the level of individual and group comprehension, I hybrid the fundamental, creating additional learning applications and exercises which develop a deeper understanding and connection with the student as an individual learner and musician.  This is often done based on other music educators ideas through my PLN.
  3. Students then apply the fundamental at-will, whether it be in their composition, practice, or rehearsal.
  4. We continue to use all the resources we can get our hands on to apply the fundamental in a more complex manner.  This includes using our new found skills in an environment of interpretation and expression, the band rehearsal!
We are moving in the education away from making it just the students' responsibility to learn and sailing towards a collaborative responsibility to create a productive and successful learning environment.

Put Yourself Out There

(Photo Credit: National Archives

Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke the words "the only thing we have to fear itself" in his first inaugural speech in 1933 (National Archives).  While FDR was dealing with the tragedy of the Great Depression, we as educators can learn from this in the way we go about educating our students in the digital age.

We need to understand that in order to reach our potential as educators and our students learning potential, we need to put ourselves out into the world.  This means we have to define our learning environment and share it with others.  We do this through our PLN and other interactive outlets (digital and analogue).  This often brings about great fear over criticism and negative reaction.  If we don't break free from that fear, we will never reach our fullest potential as educators.

Putting ourselves out there among our greatest critics, fellow educators, is a constant challenge, but a challenge that we must face.  We ask our students to do it everyday, and as mentors and role models, we must do the same.  

FDR significantly changed the role of the federal government in 1933 to wage a 'war on the Great Depression'.  We can significantly change our teaching by overcoming fear and  putting ourselves out there to share our ideas and learn from others

In the instrumental music setting we are constantly required to perform in a public setting.  Concerts, sporting events, and ceremonies are often a platform where we are criticized as educators.  This however is not enough.  We need to share not just the product, but the process of our learning framework.  This could be as simple as online conversations or as complex as live interactive learning with other classrooms via Skype.  Either way we must challenge ourselves to engage our greatest critics, fellow educators.

What's Next?

As an educator I challenge myself to build a learning environment that is consistently co-constructive and collaborative.  This means that I must share my ideas without fear.  A new way of learning in the digital age has presented itself.  It is our responsibility to embrace the given resources to become better educators.