As part of the Top Global Teacher Bloggers / / Global Search for Education, this is my answer to this month’s question: In a 21 st century world teacher learning never stops.

Every time a new technical thing has come to the school, people thought that it would change the learning! And it has never done it. We need to think what learning is about, how it can happen and are all people learning in the same way?

A young teacher may get fascinated e.g. about Flipped classroom. She/he makes a video about the new lesson in advance to students who can look it at home before the actual lesson. During the lesson teacher gives tasks to students and walks around the classroom helping those who need more support. What is new? Videos I have seen are just like lessons before. Teacher is telling the new content of the subject. Now there is not even the possibility for students to make questions at that moment they come to their mind!

I am hopeful about the possibilities of new ed-tech but at the same time I am worried that it is repeating the old understanding of learning. In behavioristic learning we pour the knowledge like water to students’ heads and believe it stays there!  Latest learning theory, social constructivist theory thinks that students need to be active in their own learning and build their knowledge structure all the time connecting the new knowledge to the old ones. Of course teacher has still the most important role in the process.

So if I would have the chance to influence ongoing professional development for teachers in my community, I would take care that all courses will be done pedagogy first!

  1. Once a year teachers should have development discussions where they can set their own goals for professional development.
  2. It would not be allowed to keep courses after the school day when teachers have already done their work and may be tired.
  3. No courses to the whole staff. If we believe to personalized learning we should also keep personalized training.
  4. Try to arrange training in co-operation with other schools in your community. You don’t always need to order external trainer – you may have the best trainers in your own staff!
  5. When you send your teacher to the external course, send always at least two. Then it is more possible that new methods start to be used in your school!
  6. We need to take account that if we want change adults’ way of teaching, they also need time for their own training. Teachers need to get part of training in groups, part by Skype or webinars, part by real practice and testing!

teachers in Finland making cube model

Photo: Maarit Rossi

One teacher told me about her good training experience. Training started so that the whole group met in internet and talked about what the training could include and what they were expecting of it. Second time they met face to face and learned new things by doing (media literacy). Next time they where divided into smaller groups and they got a task to do. They had some months time to do the work in their own school. In the last meeting groups showed their work to each other. Teachers like students could learn from others’ ideas and reflect their own learning.

You can find free Math teacher training material from