Monday, December 24, 2012

Convert from consumer to producer

This post is a commentary on the shifts that are needed in schools in order to make the role of a data coach more effective.

The shift that I will comment on is this:
  • Adults need to focus less on the teaching and more on the learning
In earlier days, I was a teacher of biology. One of my favorite units to teach was on Ecology. I loved to see the surprise in my students' faces when they learned that the study of ecology and the environment was so much more than a recycling program that gets discussed at the middle school level. One of the most dynamic parts of ecology is the study of energy transfer.

My reason for bringing up the food web is to discuss the concept of producers and consumer. A producer, or autotroph, is an organism that can create its own food within its cell via a chemical process (i.e. photosynthesis or chemosynthesis), whereas a consumer, or heterotroph, is an organism that much eat another organism in order to sustain its existence. In the classroom, I would discuss the current carrying capacity of the Earth and how the that could be increased if we all acted as lower order consumers instead of the tertiary or higher consumers in the food web (i.e. top consumer).

Students would then ask if they could be a producer, instead of a consumer. This would indicate to me that we needed to discuss some cellular concepts a little more...

But, when we move from an ecological discussion to one of educational preparation, the environment of the classroom takes on a new look in the terms of producers and consumers. For anyone who has been through a teacher preparation program up through and including the past few years, was taught to have their students be consumers of knowledge in the class.

Teachers, classically, have been taught and prepared to be the smartest person in the room and provide all of the information to students. Even older teacher evaluation models focus on how well the teacher can impart knowledge upon the class and create a sense of order and control of the young people in their room. The focus has been completely on the teaching in the room and had very little do with the learning that is happening by the students. (Take a look at how student grades are entered -- mentioned in my last post).

Recently, there has been a (needed) change in education that teachers need to guide and facilitate the learning of the students instead of directing it. (The biggest challenge to this is that Federal laws and tests that are required.) If this change can be realized in the classroom, then the students will be able to make the change from the consumers of knowledge to the producers of their own learning. This would allow focus to shift from the teaching to the learning.

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