Teachers are tired. Our jobs are multifaceted. We design and facilitate lessons. We monitor student progress and collect student data. We provide feedback on and assess student work. We attend meetings and communicate with parents about student progress. It should not surprise anyone that most teachers feel like they are treading water. They do not feel they have the bandwidth to try new instructional models, teaching strategies, and technology tools.
I am convinced that the biggest barrier to innovation is not an unwillingness to embrace change, but rather a general lack of time and energy.
Most teachers feel depleted because they are doing the lion’s share of the work in their classrooms. They put tremendous pressure on themselves to do it all…design, facilitate, instruct, support, and assess. However, our propensity to do the work is robbing students of the opportunity to take ownership of their learning and robbing teachers of the time they need to rest and recharge.
Learning should be a shared responsibility between the teacher and the learner. The student must be equally invested in the learning happening in the classroom. Teachers must partner with students to shift the responsibility of learning from the teacher to the learner. Students must be taught how to be active, engaged learners who are capable of tracking, assessing, reflecting on, and articulating their progress.
To embrace a partnership model, teachers need time and space in the classroom to connect with students, teach them to set goals and monitor their progress, help them develop their metacognitive muscles, provide timely and actionable feedback, and conduct side-by-side assessments and grade conversation. To do this, teachers must free themselves from the front of the room. They must be willing to experiment with different instructional models beyond the whole group lesson.
Blended learning encourages teachers to reimage the way they design and facilitate lessons to ensure they have the time and space to truly partner with students and rethink their workflows. I don’t think teachers should drag home stacks of paperwork to grade after a long day at school. The neverending paper trail that plagues most teachers is energy-sapping and counterproductive.
It’s exponentially more valuable and rewarding for teachers to provide students with feedback as they work and assess student work with the student sitting right next to them.
Teachers no longer need to dedicate massive amounts of class time to disseminating information. Instead, we need to embrace new roles as architects of learning experiences, coaches supporting skill development, and facilitators of learning. If we welcome, instead of resist, these new roles and engage students as partners in learning, we can rediscover our joy in the classroom and reclaim our lives beyond it.
Catlin Tucker is a Google Certified Innovator, bestselling author, international trainer, and keynote speaker. She was named Teacher of the Year in 2010 in Sonoma County where she taught for 16 years. Catlin is pursuing her doctorate at Pepperdine University and working as a blended learning coach. Catlin’s books Blended Learning in Grades 4-12 and Blended Learning in Action both bestsellers. Corwin published Catlin’s newest book Power Up Blended Learning in September, and she is already working on a new book designed to help teachers achieve balance with blended learning. She is active on Twitter@Catlin_Tucker and writes an internationally ranked education blog at CatlinTucker.com.