Who Should Design Learning Experiences?

Many organizations have jumped on the CCSS bandwagon by creating model lessons, learning experiences, and units. I wonder if that's the right approach. While I believe it's great to share terrific teaching ideas by way of lessons, learning experiences, and units, I wonder if the better approach is to put those dollars towards extraordinary professional learning events.

Well-educated, experienced teachers have the skill to synthesize multiple learning ideas, research, and efforts with the context of their learning organizations to teach children well. Those teachers are not "recipe followers" but instead learning "chefs"--the ones who personalize the menu for the children they teach. That's what makes learning special, engaging, productive, successful, and memorable.

I've been thinking a lot about all the money and efforts given to lesson companies/efforts. I've taken a look at many of those lessons and haven't been motivated to embrace the work. Instead I find myself seeking out the consult of experts in the fields of cognition, writing, computer programming, mathematics, science, and social studies to lead my work. I like to gain my ideas first-hand from those who are doing the deep research and reading to lead their fields of knowledge.

A while back I interviewed for a position with one of the lesson-writing organizations. I was unimpressed when I asked the interviewer about their thoughts on blended learning and tech use. Her answer was that the lessons didn't require that. Right away I knew I could not work for that organization as their efforts were already outdated since people today in every organization learn in blended ways, not just paper and pencil. As I asked the interviewer more questions, it was also clear to me that the individual had little experience in a classroom setting and less experience with designing dynamic learning experiences for children.

As we continue down the teaching/learning evolutionary path, I recommend that dollars spent on professional resources and efforts begin with high-level, responsive, and targeted professional learning for educators. Educators should be learning from experts in the fields that they teach--individuals who are at the center of research and cutting edge innovation in their fields. There's no need or room for watered-down, fourth-hand discussions of specific content or pedagogy when first-hand accounts and information are available on the Internet and at local universities/conferences via research articles, TedTalks, chats, webinars, and more.

The landscape of teaching/learning continues to change. To best teach children we need to carefully look at the professional learning paths and resources available and promoted for teachers today. There's no more room for less-than-valuable, dynamic resources and learning events now since high-quality learning and resources abound.

I'm going to think more about this, but today's the first day I've been able to write about this area of teaching/learning--one where it's important to evaluate if the dollars spent are spent in ways that make a positive difference for the children and families we serve.

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