A Completed Teacher (ACT): A Learners’ View (ALV) of Teaching-Learning

A Learners’ View (ALV) Is Of Choices On The Shortest And Fastest Path To Learning, The Oxygen Of Social Life

Teachers teach simply, so learners may simply learn. (ALV T-Shirt Wisdom)

Main Article: NARRATIVES

Theme: Technically possible academic performances in an academic year by applying a learners’ view (ALV) of learning that reduces or avoids rationing of learning during teaching.


“TEACHERS SHOW LEARNERS how to solve problems. In this way, learners make teachers possible. That is how learners complete teachers,” said Dr. W.E. Doynit to the high school auditorium full of community children and adults. “Without learners and learning, teaching does not exist regardless of what someone called Teacher does.” Doynit is superintendent of Normal Unified School District (NUSD) in Normal, California. Behind him is a theater size screen with the words New Era School Initiative (NESI) and Horizon School appearing subtly in blue.

Teachers Show Learners

“Teachers show learners how to use choices to connect dots. Each lesson starts with something a person knows how to do; we call that Dot 1.The lesson continues by showing learners what they will learn how to do; we call that Dot 2. Next, the teacher shows learners choices to make to connect Dot 1 with Dot 2.

“To teach a person to connect dots is not the end of it,” Doynit continued. “For the learners taught, each lesson is the threshold between what their lives have been before teaching and what their lives can become. Teaching matches choices made by learners with likely consequences. It shows learners how they can choose to do what the most accomplished people do and have done.”

He says this with confidence. Each teacher at Horizon School told him earlier and separately that they want to be a completed teacher, one who tries to make the world a better place one learner at a time. They each combine the crafts of research, planning, instruction, and analysis with the arts of curiosity, persuasion, and optimism. He expects to fill the remaining open positions with teachers who express similar commitments.

Teachers’ Predicament

As he scans the audience while speaking, he guesses that each person he sees must feel like they have fallen down the rabbit-hole in Louis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” This is not what most superintendents say about their schools.

He recognizes school age children, adults, the local news reporter, members of the school board, and prospective teachers. He acknowledged while preparing his comments that every employed and prospective teacher recognizes that she or he faces a fundamental predicament: Whether to continue to offer lessons as usual, or to change to using evolving state-of-the-art practices each day in classes.

Educators acknowledge their inadequate preparation for the flux in demographics, in the economy, and in advancing electronic communications underway in and out of schools in Normal. Their choices influence their families’ daily lives and their career lines as well as the lives of the children in their classes.

Teachers’ well trained confidence in methods to use in classrooms is assailed by an onslaught of competing images, reports, and advice – all without responsibility for handling problems teachers encounter daily – for addressing rapidly advancing technologies, international competition, and growing dissatisfaction with the academic performance levels of public school graduates.

Doynit continues to the audience, “I offered this version of a completed teacher as a description of how I view teaching and learning at Horizon School. Now, let’s describe our progress and plans for the school. In short, we’re on schedule to open as announced.”

From Teacher-Centric Schooling to Results Directed Learning

“Our School Board has given Horizon School a charter as the first operation of what we call the New Era School Initiative (NESI). This era features a massive transformation in schooling around the globe. Educators are moving, sometimes like a glacier, from teacher centric schooling of the last 3,000 years to results directed learning programs disbursed into many places with electronic communication tools. As you may have heard, not everyone in Normal agrees with the need for NESI or for our characterizations of existing or of future schooling.

“Our board named the charter program Horizon School to capture the image of how explorers, navigators, and other adventurers and their navigation machines use the physical horizon as a constant reference for maintaining stability and for measuring progress.” Doynit notices that audience faces remain expressionless. Blank like faces on Amish dolls. He doesn’t see anyone texting or fiddling with a computer, at least not yet, so they must be waiting for something more.

Six Cycles of Learning In Six Years*

“Children who begin at Horizon School at age 5 or 6 will graduate from high school six years later, ready academically to enter college. They will have earned near perfect scores on state academic performance tests and learned more than the state tests measure. This is possible and likely, because of two choices we have made.

Academic and Scientific Principles

First, we teach academic and scientific principles, not theories. Lessons are organized in ways that learners can generalize beyond the specifics to solve a wide range of problems, some of which are not included in the lessons.

For example, a group of 15 four and five year old preschoolers followed Roger, their teacher, outdoors. He pointed to the sky and said, “Point to the high (atmospheric) pressure area.” All of the children looked up and in unrehearsed and unorchistrated unison pointed correctly to the high pressure area for each of the two layers of clouds above them.

Their classroom lesson did not include instruction for identifying multiple pressure areas. The children generalized from the classroom lesson to solve the problem Roger gave them.

I know this, because I was one of those children. Forty-five years later, I remember the principle from that lesson: “Air moves from a high pressure area to a low pressure area.” Clouds show where these areas are located. Clouds move from high to low pressure areas.

A Learners’ View (ALV)

Second, teachers use a learners’ view (ALV) of learning, not a teachers’ view of teaching or someone elses of learning. For over a century learners have shown choices they make while learning to scientists in and out of schools. We use descriptions of these choices to plan, instruct, and assess lessons. We call these state-of-the-art (SOTA) professional practices, because scientists have documented that they reduce the likelihood of learners failing to learn each lesson. We refer to this approach as efficient teaching-learning. It sets a new standard for learning through classroom instruction.


“We work from the premise, grounded in experimental research, that learning occurs in one step. All other visible activity by learners during a lesson is trial-and-errors. Please notice in each of the three videos tonight that teachers have made choices in the lesson that learners chose in order to learn that lesson.”

Teachers Make Choices, So Learners Can Learn 

Doynit turns off the stage lights. As he does so, a video image appears on the screen of a young man working at a task board picking up and putting together metal parts.

Lesson Planning for Learning

“This video shows Eugene assembling a bicycle coaster break. It’s an example of the detailed planning of each lesson teachers will do for each subject at Horizon. Notice how the parts of the brake are arranged from left to right in the order for the most efficient assembly of the complete unit.

Notice also that Marc, his teacher, painted the top side of each part red. We call the red paint a redundant cue. It increases the chances that Eugene will have that side of the part face him.

“Notice that Marc uses only a few words during the lesson. The power in this lesson is in the arrangement of the parts, not in what the teacher says. You will see our teachers using these strategies and techniques during lessons in academic subjects.

Eugene and Marc demonstrate the principle that learning occurs in three stages: there’s a beginning when Eugene gives permission to the teacher to proceed (We say, ‘Eugene attends.’), a middle when learners respond to teacher, and an ending when learners successfully complete the assembly. (We say “meets criterion for the learning the lesson’).

As in this video, each lesson at Horizon has only one criterion for learning, even when it’s a solution to a complex problem. After running that excerpt for a few minutes, without bringing up the lights, Doynit announced, “You can watch at your convenience this and other complete videos shown tonight on our school website.” The Horizon School website address appeared on the screen and remained there until the next video started.

Accelerated Learning

“In this next video, Ms. Bonnie shows 3, 4, and 5 year old rural preschoolers how to read. Grandma had invited Bonnie to work with her grandchildren, because she said she knew they would not learn to read or do arithmetic in school, as her children had not. Notice the level of excitement Bonnie generated as she and the children used the dirt floor of Grandma’s tobacco barn as our teachers use books, whiteboards and computer screens.”

After a three minute excerpt, Doynit said, “This video illustrates how much traditional lesson content can be covered in a short amount of clock time. In six weeks of 20 minute sessions with no supplies other than sticks, stones, and dust for each of reading, standard English, mathematics, and science lesson, all of these children read, added, subtracted, multiplied, and divided between middle of first grade and middle of second grade levels, and they could handle basic concepts of physical science, such as atmospheric pressure due to Bonnie’s instruction and standardized measures to assess learning.

“Some of you may be interested to know that Bonnie was a speech therapist, not a certified teacher. She did not practice any hocus pocus or other magic to get these results. Teachers at Horizon are certified and will use versions of the same techniques Bonnie used, adapted for learning appropriate materials and content at our school.

Individualized Learning

“Our third and last video illustrates the power of a setting on learning. The video started with the teacher, Mr. Akura, telling the classroom of 35 fifth graders from working class families, including five students eligible for special education, “You all know what is expected of you in class. You also know how to distract me from teaching you, and I’ll bet you can be good at it (the class smiled and someone said an enthusiastic “Yeah!…” Students were assigned to the class because Akura was male, and the students were more “enthusiastically challenging” than other teachers in the school wanted in their classrooms.).

“You also know how to keep each other from learning. So, let’s put those games aside and get to the point. Do you agree?” The class assented.

“Monday mornings,” Akura continued in the video, “I will write on the board an outline of my lesson plans for the week. It’s what we would do and you would learn in another classroom. They’re keywords from my lesson plans for the week. Each of you copy and keep these plans in your own handwriting in your desk. You then work your way through those lessons at your own pace. Do so alone or with others in class. You choose who and when. Then, grade your own papers, correct your mistakes, and grade your redos until you get that lesson right. Keep those papers with your lesson plan copy. I’ll collect and review them from time to time.”

Akura went on to say he will put teachers’ manuals and answer books on the shelf under the window, so learners can check their work against the experts. He said he will circulate in class to help with problems as they come up. And, he told the class that he will test and grade them in the same old way they know, so if they cheat during the week, they cheat themselves and will have to make it up in order to complete the next weeks assignments successfully.

“I’ll also,” Akura said, “put paper and other art supplies on the window shelf. Help yourself anytime. Just clean up your own messes, so Carlos (the school custodian) doesn’t have to clean up after you.

“I know that each of you live your life, not mine. So, remember who you are; do your best, always; and have fun doing your best.”

Doynit turned up the house and stage lights. “You may be interested to learn that all of these 5th grade students met or exceeded 5th grade standards and over half of the class completed over half of sixth grade standards successfully by the end of their regular 5th grade school year.

Your Choice: Join Horizon or Not

“These three videos illustrate teaching methods that lead promptly to learning. We’ll use these methods, and others, at Horizon. they’re grounded in application of experimental research descriptions of choices people make while learning.

“Each method resulted in prompt, dramatic rates of learning beyond that anticipated by most educators and community members. “We’re bringing these methods together into one program at Horizon School.

“Horizon School is what technologists in Silicon Valley would call a Beta release of a program. That means it is a first release of its kind for use by people other than by engineers and others under controlled conditions.

“While we have confidence in the scientific grounding of our program, we recognize that not everyone shares that confidence or chooses to participate in our program. NUSD offers other programs for those who choose them.

“We look forward to you joining us. In this way, learners will complete teachers, so they can accelerate, increase, and deepen learning promptly and dramatically. Until then, good night, and best wishes as you proceed to wherever your choices lead you.”


  1. A Learners’ View (ALV)
  2. Carroll, L. Alice in Wonderland.
  3. Field Teaching
  4. Gold, M. (c. 1975). Try Another Way. (video)
  5. Individual Differences and other Diversities
  6. It’s Your Choice, Teacher, Always
  7. Performance Standard for Educators
  8. Two Dots Learning (TDL)

Related Reading

  1. Approval of a NESI Charter School
  2. Ima Learner
  3. Interviews and Conversations about New Era School Initiative (NESI)
  4. Mythical Secular Perfect Teacher (MSPT)
  5. NESI Conversation 10 Rationed Learning: … “Yes, but …” Report Revisited
  6. Overview of Classic Education: A Learners’ View of Choices …
  7. Value a Learners’ View (ALV) adds to Education
  8. Vision of a Learners’ View (ALV) in Education


*  S. Engelmann described in September, 1965, the model of the six cycles of instruction-learning in six years during a hallway conversation at Prairie School in Urbana, IL.

Last Update: June 28, 2016