Let's Practice What We Preach

As educators, we preach that we need to facilitate student-centered learning via inquiry-based instruction to meet the needs of all of our learners.  Research shows us that we as human beings naturally prefer learning via authentic, self-directed, customized, first-handed, curiosity-driven, trial and error approaches. [1]

If we know this information to be true, then why do we insist on conducting professional development that is teacher-centered and lecture-based, rather than learner-centered and inquiry-based? Aren't educators learners too?

As I reflect back on my training session that I participated in today,  I am perplexed by how disinterested I was and how unhelpful the training session was.  This training session was a lecture-based webinar, where we as participating, professional educators were spoken to like kindergarteners.  Don't get me wrong, I love webinars when they are used appropriately.  But too often I see technology being used as a catalyst for teacher-centered instruction.  What matters most is not the technology itself, but what teachers and students do with that technology.

During the training session, we weren't given time to inquire, to explore, to sandbox, or to reflect.  All I wanted to do during the entire training session was to explore the tool, ask authentic questions that were important to me, and try to find the answers.  I wanted to start creating content, testing it, and sharing it in order to construct my own meaning, and apply my own learning and understanding.

The approach that was taken during the training session, was to demonstrate all of the features of the tool.  This is something I could have easily done on my own.  The content was not relevant to me, nor was it in the context of my school district.  We logged in under an "example" account and were directed to perform every action that the moderator performed, which only proved that were obedient and could follow directions.  Unfortunately, this sounds all too familiar to me.

We need to start practicing what we preach as educators.  Let's foster learner-centered, inquiry-based learning opportunities not only for our students, but also for our educators when we are sharing, collaborating, and leading professional development!

[Note: I do find the tool regarding this training session to be very powerful and very useful.  I was just dissatisfied with the implementation of the training session, provided by the company of the tool]

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  1. http://willrichardson.com/post/31918393655/schools-vs-abundance