21st Century Literacies

Teachers Changing the Way We Read, Write, Think, and Live

Why does the learning stop?

Q: Teachers never have to learn again after they receive their certification and Master’s degree.  True or false?  

A: False: Teachers need to redefine their concept of learning to include not only their students, but themselves as well.


Richardson believes that teachers are in dire need of remembering that they too are learners.  Elsewhere, he refers to teachers as “master learners” who are able to, in fact, model the process of learning.  As a member of the community, one would hope that all teachers succeed in modeling learning, or are effectively teaching a particular content area.  In this increasingly digitalized world however, Richardson worries that teachers are refusing to learn about technology.   Lack of familiarity and confidence with Web 2.0 applications, are the primary reasons teachers avoid combining technology in the classroom.  They are afraid of being embarrassed by showing a deficiency of knowledge.  In today’s world however, knowledge can be retrieved almost instantaneously.  Therefore, educators should not worry about what they don’t know, and focus on what they do know.  All educators were and have been learners throughout their lives.  Most teachers have vast experience in learning in the high school and collegiate settings.   This skill is transferable.  Therefore, teachers should transfer it to their own experiences with technology and model those interactions for students.  He wants teachers to “examine how these technologies challenge their own personal learning.”  This strikes me as an effective way for teachers to evaluate their skills and strategies as learners.   By understanding how they learn and what pitfalls, traps or obstacles they encountered, teachers are better able to prepare for lessons utilizing technology.

2013-04-11 Technology Matters - Reexamining Education Technology


    Administrators cannot skip ahead in the digital integration process and “throw” digital technologies at their teachers in order to help their teachers utilize these resources in the classroom.  Rather, Richardson argues that administrators should learn about technology so that they are prepared and able to teach their instructors how to effectively integrate technology into the classroom.  I liken this to grabbing a tool at random out of a shed and then proceeding to teach a group of adolescents how to use said tool, when you have absolutely no idea as to the function or purpose of this tool.  To teach something, a person must have intimate knowledge of the subject and process at hand.  Therefore, administrators and teachers need to CONTINUE LEARNING so that they are adequately prepared to teach, and therefore reach, students.  

Don’t use it just to check off the tech requirement of the Standards.  Use it to augment the overall learning process.  Teachers need to determine how they can effectively integrate technology into a lesson plan with specific learning goals.  The technology or Web 2.0 application utilized by a teacher should help students construct meaning or develop a deeper understanding of the learning goal at hand.  For instance, if a teacher is facilitating a unit on digital media literacy, they should require students to utilize technology to construct responses as it adds further meaning to their text by including multiple modes of communication.  If students are unfamiliar with the technology in question, the teacher can model their own learning strategies and dealings with that particular application.  Thus, teachers make it apparent to students that they too are constantly learning and making new connections and meanings utilizing technology.  That way, teachers turn away from their roots of “master of the classroom universe” and instead provide students with practical model of the learning process while adding depth and complexity to the lesson.


Views: 20

Comment by Kerri Valesey on November 17, 2013 at 2:38pm

John, this is a really insightful post! We keep coming back to our own idea that "teacher as model learner" is an important idea. I think that it's really difficult for teachers to admit our own shortcomings to a group of teachers, but that by beginning a school year with an honest conversations about how the world is constantly changing and that we are always adapting and learning how to change with it would give students a greater deal of respect for their teachers.  Students know how to use technology intuitively.  Teachers, administrators, and school personnel shouldn't shy away from it because it isn't always natural for us! We should accept that age-old adage, "practice-makes-perfect;" if we are always practicing learning, we will become ideal model learners for our students!

Comment by Rebecca Welton on November 17, 2013 at 5:45pm

Aside from the whole "teacher as a model learner" idea that seems to carry through Richardson's book, I really like your statements about digital technology. It is true that administrators and others shouldn't just  "throw digital technologies at their teachers", and I think that all too many administrators, even in my own experience, are also afraid of technology, (they usually leave everything off on the "tech guy"). I find that a lot of people who aren't teachers in the school system are also a part of the problem, so I would fully agree with this. If more administrators and teachers are comfortable with technology they will have no need to continuously heckle the "tech guys" at their school for the tiniest problems. At the same time, they should know why technology would be beneficial to the classroom as well as to their teachers. The world and it's technology  is constantly changing, and they are going to need to catch up.

Comment by Ben Pisani on November 20, 2013 at 6:24pm

I agree, John.  Just adding technology to check off a requirement in standards isn't enough.  We are all teachers, though, and slowly bringing teachers into the fold is the best answer.  Sometimes you don't want to jump into the deep end of the pool.  You have to slowly wade into it, and that's when remembering that teachers are always learners comes in.  To constantly engage them with new information to use in the classroom, can only help.  Once they are eased into these programs, they may find it easier to engage their students with technology.

Comment by Victoria Corning on November 21, 2013 at 4:24pm

John, I completely agree that educators sometimes forget that they need to be examples of life-long learning. In order to continually keep up with new ways of learning, especially new technologies, teachers need to constantly be absorbing new techniques and ideas. They cannot block off a new strategy because "the old one works fine". In my experience in schools, teachers were constantly asking me the new techniques I was learning because they were hungry for new ways of teaching. It was really inspiring to see teachers want to learn how to be a better educators. I also agree that it should not just be teachers who have to relearn and relearn; administrators should also be keeping up with new educational strategies and technological tools. This way, they are able to "back up" teachers on new strategies they are implementing. Great job!

Comment by Courtney Brown on November 24, 2013 at 11:17pm

John, I'd like to focus on what you said about administrators, "Administrators cannot skip ahead in the digital integration process and “throw” digital technologies at their teachers in order to help their teachers utilize these resources in the classroom."  I couldn't agree with you more.  The road to Hell is paved with the best intentions, and by that I mean even if Administrators have the ability to learn and share technology within their schools it is of no use to teachers and students if implementation and proper planning is not set in place.  Having the equipment and tools but not possessing the time to learn how to use it or worse, be too far removed from the type of technology that it seems scary.  This is where schools who are lucky find themselves unlucky.  I agree with you when you site Richardson in saying that "administrators should learn about technology so that they are prepared and able to teach their instructors how to effectively integrate technology into the classroom."  


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