This summer, I decided to start working for sCoolSuite instead of teaching a class again. A difficult decision, considering the shortage of teachers. But I do feel it is sometimes good to distance yourself from something. Now I have the opportunity to look at education from a different perspective. In my previous blog, I talked about how the increasing degree of digitization in education and the speed with which students can develop themselves personally are causing the difference in level between students to grow rapidly.
I notice that following a method can sometimes be very limiting, both for me as a teacher and for students. Working based on learning goals would be a better fit for the education of today. But how do you organize that?
When I started at sCoolSuite, I went to training sessions at schools that were going to start using the software. The first training sessions were mostly about “how do I organize my school” and not about how the software works. I wasn’t expecting that. So before you can start working with the software, as a school, you really need to think about your organization and vision. And during these training sessions, a question the team heard a lot was “But how?”. Basically, the trainer is challenging the team to think about what the purposes of certain things are. Think of organization, tests, use of methods, subject specialists, use of learning plazas, and more. Let go of your own educational organization and try to look at things differently.
Among other things, these training sessions caused me to start looking differently at following a method. By default, a method offers 35% too many goals. And because I as a teacher faithfully follow the method and want to go over all goals during the school year, I am actually wasting 35% of the education time on goals that are no longer applicable to all students. Therefore, critically assessing your curriculum and understanding your own offer as a school is very important.
I also started looking differently at personalized learning. For me, it meant that every student works at their own level and pace. That is what many people in education are preaching. “But how do you organize that?” was one of the trainer’s questions. If you have 30 students in a class and everyone is at a different level and needs different guidance, how can you organize that? And if not, which students suffer from that? Having every student work at their own level and pace is fundamentally impossible to organize. You need to make choices and agreements about that.
I recognize myself in the teachers that are present at the training sessions. They have a clear vision, but organizing that vision is not always exactly the same.
Sometimes you are so stuck in your own way of thinking, “your teacher tunnel”, that it is good for someone to challenge you to look at everything from a different perspective.
The week after that, we visited a school that is already using the software to give a tour to a foreign group. They come from all across the world to look at this form of educational organization. What stands out to me is that wherever the delegations are from, they always have the same questions that I recognize as a teacher. Schools often have all kinds of digital devices and software, but have barely thought about the organization.
At this school, the students has a personal learning goals plan which, for each student, contained exactly what learning goals they could work on themselves and what they needed to do to achieve those goals. The teachers (subject specialists at this school) provided instructions to groups of students who had not yet achieved that goal at that moment. This was reflected in a personal weekly schedule for the students, so they knew where they needed to be at all times and what goals they could work on. Everything fell into place for me; to me, this is what learning goals oriented education looks like.
Learning goals oriented education
I believe in learning goals oriented education because it allows you to get the most out of the education time of teachers and students. As teachers, we must dareto let go of the methods. To stop using it as a guide, but look specifically at the learning goals we offer.
What a teacher needs in learning goals oriented education is insight into the goals a student has achieved and still needs to work on. Based on this, teachers can plan suitable instructions and guidance for the students. A great solution for the challenges I described in my previous blog. In a next blog, I will write more about examples that were eye-openers for me in terms of how things can be done differently. I also want to talk more about the importance of learning goals oriented education.
When visiting so many different schools, I do feel those teacher butterflies again. Who knows… ;-)