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NESI Conversation 8

 

NESI Conversation 8: Teachers Teaching

This eighth conversation with Dr. W.E. Doynit extends descriptions of how to accelerate learning dramatically by increasing learning efficiency rates with and without Tablet and other mobile PCs.

Topics: More responses to Robert Reed’s comments about lack of teacher willingness to accept NESI (see NESI Conversation 2: Doynit on School Reform); teachers; teaching to accelerate learning promptly; a case for NESI; conflicts of interest; and “schoolhouse corruption.”


Tablet PC Education: Thank you for returning to this blog for a total of nine times, once for an extended interview and this is the eighth conversation. Let’s get to it.

Robert Reed suggests that teachers will unlikely voluntarily accept any form of unbiased scrutiny, such as a Tablet or other mobile PC based learning analysis program, in classrooms.

He further suggests that teachers’ unions will likely brand as “nonsense” any attempt to develop and deploy such tools.

In this light, who is a teacher, do all teachers do the same things whether or not they hold state and other certificates for teaching, and how do you deal with possible resistance from teachers’ unions? Can you summarize these differences in one sentence, so we can go from there?

Before we go further, are we talking about 2009 or another year?

Doynit: I’ll talk about what does and can happen in 2009.

As for who’s a teacher, they must help us to share (their) understanding of a subject matter, as Albert Hibbs said of Richard Feynman, the Nobel Laureate physicist.

Let me summarize differences between NESI charter school and other programs in three sentences. Please note differences in NESI from common school vocabulary. NESI gives priority to learning with other things changing measurably to accelerate measured learning promptly. Any educator can do the same without the NESI structure and without further formal authorization from a board of education.

In summary, NESI educators manage learning behavior patterns.

Every NESI instructional and administrative staff member knows and is accountable for contributing to each learner demonstrating a minimum of n behavior patterns on a state standardized test after X seconds using Y school resources during an academic year for an average cost of C to demonstrate each behavior pattern.

To the extent that other educators do the same, they share a common purpose with NESI and will likely have students who demonstrate comparable measured accelerated learning.

Tablet PC Education: Let’s see if I understand from what you’ve said in earlier comments: core NESI vocabulary begins and ends with descriptions of learning. That means NESI staff relate whatever they do to what learners do to accelerate learning rates. Yes?

Doynit: Yes. As traditional teachers over the past 100+ years have known, lessons, and thus teacher talk, consist of vocabulary, logic, and priorities, or as some prefer to say, values.

NESI instructors use vocabulary that logically describes how NESI gives priority to accelerating learning. Thus, NESI talk includes discussing learning, what to see, hear, and in other ways observe learning processes and demonstrations.

Note that this vocabulary does not include references to students, teaching, etc., except when trying to relate NESI ideas to ways others discuss schooling.

Tablet PC Education: So, NESI instructors must use another set of vocabulary and logic? That’s wierd, as my granddaughter might say.

Doynit: NESI people must, and this is not an option, continuously demonstrate prompt, measured, accelerated learning rates. The vocabulary and logic I mentioned give priority to meeting that requirement instead of discussions about schooling.

Tablet PC Education: Now, back to Mr. Reed’s wondering if public school teachers will accept objective scrutiny in their classrooms.

Doynit: I think public school teachers will accept third party observations that lead to increased student learning. And, yes, I sometimes switch to conventional vocabulary and logic when discussing NESI practices in other public schooling.

Tablet PC Education: Reed referred to teachers and unions not wanting the proposed Tablet and other mobile PC based learning analysis software in classrooms. He has a good point.

Doynit: Yes, good teachers analyze student learning on-the-fly during each lesson. They make changes in words and illustrations to explain something differently when they see or hear students missing the teacher’s point. In turn, teachers hope to help each student meet each lesson objective.

The proposed Tablet PC learning analyzer gives priority to the same function. It serves as a tool for teachers to use in order for students to meet those objectives.

Maybe we should call the learning analysis software package “Classroom Learning Analysis Collaborator” or CLAC for short. Maybe that’s more school friendly than aLEAP for a Learning Efficiency Analysis Paradigm, which sounds academic? I’ll think that through later.

Either CLAC or aLEAP adds to and makes available to all instructors what good teachers do routinely. While it’s no silver bullet, it will make more efficient learners when used even in its primative form.

Tablet PC Education: Why do you think teachers will accept the proposed CLAC (aLEAP)? Doesn’t it invade their professional territory, challenge their expertise?

Doynit: Teachers for decades have accepted unbiased third party scrutiny through personal observations and standardized tests in classrooms and other learning venues.

I expect that acceptance to continue and likely to expand to software that can support greater increases in learning rates than unaided individual teaching will yield for most students.

I also expect the form of scrutiny to change, probably toward providing teachers with more electronic databases for managing instruction promptly in order to increase learning rates promptly.

Perhaps those who teach will include more new people who expect such reviews and supports as standard practice.

Tablet PC Education: Based on what you said, who do you call a teacher? Your description seems inconsistent with what and how vocal public school teachers talk today about their profession.

Doynit: Teaching, however defined, is a human endeavor. Learners see and hear what some name instruction. Learners who observe teachers sometimes change behavior patterns.

Commonly, we call these changes “learning.” In NESI, we call it “adapting.”

Without changes in learner behavior patterns, teaching does not occur, no matter what anyone does or calls her or himself.

However, unintended, unmeasured, and peripheral consequences from unmonitored actions can occur and may become relevant to someone at another time or place. Some teaching strategies appear to claim credit for these non-directed consequences.

I do wonder if such consequences appear randomly distributed among school curricula objectives, thus accounting in part for why laws of large numbers seem to yield stability rather than changed test scores in standardized testing.

Tablet PC Education: So, for NESI charter school, you distinguish the social role of teacher from the social process of student learning or adapting. That seems like splitting hairs. What do you gain from this distinction?

Doynit: For NESI purposes of accelerating learning dramatically and promptly, no bright line separates teachers and teaching results between those certified and those not certified.

Also from the NESI view, advancing electronic communications makes it more likely that teachers will accept such electronic collaborators as CLAC (aLEAP) to assist with increasing student learning rates in K12 grades.

From this view, more people teach worldwide without than with teaching licenses in and out of formal classrooms with and without pay, for example, in schools as classroom aides and in religious and political organizations, industries, and Tablet PC virtual settings to mention only a few intentional learning venues.

Some vocal groups, such as public school classroom teachers’ unions and a relatively few of their members, have tried to draw bright lines between “us” and “them.” Choose whichever side you think is “us.”

Without using these words, such lines serve as an advocacy or marketing brand, a way to claim at least the appearance of an expertise.

This brand carries the claim that certain teachers serve as professionals. Brand advocates assert that this expertise requires certain preparation, qualifications, and participation. They have a point.

This us-and-them argument, however, does not include required demonstrations of superior learning by students or assessments of other results from branded teachers.

Tablet PC Education: Given your point about learning, what view do you use to organize and operate the fictitious NESI charter school?

Doynit: Through NESI, we illustrate real ways to accelerate learning dramatically and promptly in and out of schools in 2009 and later.

We use off-the-shelf manual, mostly that have existed and teachers have used for over a century with almost all learning content, and rapidly evolving electronic procedures.

Together, these formulate NESI. Credential holding public school teachers and administrators in 2009 know about these ways.

I see no necessary mysteries or barriers to obtaining prompt learning increases, once Board of Education members decide that these increases shall occur in their schools. In this respect, board members lead educators by making explicit that they expect accelerated learning over results from conventional schooling practices.

Tablet PC Education: Are you saying that board members do not expect dramatically increased learning promptly, so educators do not do what they can do to increase student academic performance?

Doynit: In the NESI charter school, instruction relies on off-the-shelf state-of-the-art databased behavioral descriptions of learning processes available in 2009. Learners and teachers can also use advancing electronic communication tools available in 2009 to support these processes.

All educators certified since the early 1970s know about these procedures at least from recognizing authors and titles in a required nationally accredited special education course reading list and footnotes in required education foundation and education psychology textbooks.

For whatever reasons, most public school boards of education do not appear to expect teachers and other educators to use these procedures. It appears plausible that teachers follow the lead of their employers.

Tablet PC Education: Are you suggesting that increases in academic performance are as simple as boards of education expecting it? That seems overly simplistic, or to borrow the term ascribed to teachers’ unions, “nonsense.”

If it were so simple, school boards would have made their expectations for academic performance increases clear. Yes?

Doynit: Perhaps. More than one view exists about increasing academic performance. Good people, including among board members, certified teachers and administrators as well as parents, do not agree on whether and when to do so and on how to obtain and document these increases.

But, agreements exist among some educators for using empirical, experimental behavioral data that describe how people learn. They convince their board members that prompt, increased academic performance will occur with existing resources by using these learning principles to formulate lessons.

So, from the NESI view, it’s simple. Use databased behavioral descriptions of how people learn to formulate and implement instruction, including with Tablet and other mobile PCs.

Tablet PC Education: Back to our main topic for today: teachers and teaching.

Reed says teachers will not accept NESI and an unbiased PC software program you propose that monitors, records, accumulates, and analyzes student learning patterns.

Do you agree with him and why won’t they do so? Don’t school boards, parents, and other taxpayers expect public school teachers to help students accelerate academic performance as far as possible for each student? Can’t school boards require increased student academic performance from teachers?

Doynit: Yes, let me repeat: Teachers will likely increasingly accept software that helps to increase student learning rates. Many private and a relatively few public school teachers already do so to the benefit of students in their classes.

From the NESI view, parents and taxpayers hold reasonable expectations for public school teachers to do so also.

And, yes, school boards can require increased student academic performance from teachers. When and how teachers will follow is another matter.

A small number of U.S. public school boards have done so with programs such as High Tech High School and KIPP. A third public school board allowed students to use Tablet PCs to accelerate and complete high school at superior levels in three years. Some students did so. (No public report of this accomplishment has been released.)

By contrast, public school people have an apparent conflict of interest with increasing student learning.

Tablet PC Education: You think educators have conflicts of interests with students? That’s kind of out there, yes?

Doynit: Yes, they have at least the appearance of conflicts of interest. It’s unspoken, but public school educators can cite examples in classrooms and administrative offices.

With due respect to public school educators, let’s discuss this later in a separate conversation. This topic may distract from what teachers can do today to increase student learning rates.

Tablet PC Education: Do you mean that discussing conflicts can cause reactions among teachers as do fingernails scratching down classroom chalkboards?

Doynit: Let me describe another aspect of teacher behavior patterns. Limited objective data exist to support or deny how far to generalize this example.

Incumbent public school classroom teachers say that parents and other people have unreasonable expectations for student learning. Incumbents argue that no one but a current classroom teacher can understand the problems they face just to get through each school day, let alone meet other people’s expectations.

From that view, changes such as a NESI school will take another generation of teachers, if it will ever happen.

Yet, a relatively few incumbent teachers, including some in the mainstream of public schooling, try to make NESI style acceleration happen in their classrooms.

Tablet PC Education: Why, then, can’t a school board hold teachers personally responsible for every student in every class increase learning, at least as measured by the mandated state standards tests?

Doynit: In short, school boards receive more Federal money passed through the state for failing schools than from successful ones.

Teachers appear to accept such options. By doing so, they don’t have to change dramatically what they do, and they can point elsewhere to reasons why accelerated learning does not occur.

Tablet PC Education: You’re kidding, yes? This is NESI fiction to make a point, right? If accurate, aren’t these people conspiring and committing frauds? Surely, you’ve described an exception to the way school boards and educators operate.

Doynit: Not fiction. I’ve heard variations of this story in more than one state before and since the No Child Left Behind program. I know educators, including superintendents, who have built careers inside public school districts on this pattern. In the past, scholars at the University of Oregon have called similar activities administrative abuse of students.

Tablet PC Education: I hope you’re wrong about this situation. In another setting, it would be called “corruption.”

Doynit: I’m describing reasons teachers can fulfill contracted obligations without increasing student academic performance.

Tablet PC Education: So, you’re arguing that teachers don’t have to accelerate student learning in order to continue getting paid, so many students don’t accelerate learning rates.

Doynit: Yes, I wonder if that’s a fair hypothesis. I hope someone tests it objectively and soon in ways that show that these anecdotes are aberrations, not the mode.

At NESI, we avoid dealing with such matters by selecting teachers who have demonstrated that they can and who agree that they will accelerate student learning rates promptly and dramatically as documented by third party observations and analyses.

Tablet PC Education: Thank you, Dr. Doynit. We’ve run out of time again.

We look forward to learning more about NESI when Dr. Doowrite and Ms. Donna Pahl join you to discuss the report titled Rationed Learning: A Conspiracy of “Yes, but … “

After that discussion, please join me again at this blog to review your thinking about conflicts of interest public school educators have with student interests.


References


Richard Feynman, Nobel Lectures, Physics 1963-1970, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1972. http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1965/feynman-bio.html

Hibbs, A. (1997). Introduction. In E. Hutchins, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character – Richard P. Feynman. NY: Norton, pp. 9-10.

Original High Tech High School, The Tablet PC Education Blog, May 24, 2009, 5:50 AM. (Retrieved April 29, 2010, 2:11 PM.) http://www.robertheiny.com/2009/05/original-high-tech-high-school.html

Teacher Prep at High Tech High School, The Tablet PC Education Blog, July 18, 2009, 6:48 AM. (Retrieved April 29, 2010, 2:14 PM.) http://www.robertheiny.com/2007/07/erik-w.html

Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), The Tablet PC Education Blog, April 29, 2009, 4:19 PM. (Retrieved April 29, 2010, 2:11 PM.) http://www.robertheiny.com/2009/05/original-high-tech-high-school.html

New Era School Initiative (NESI) Conversation 7: Tablet PC Learning Research, The Tablet PC Education Blog, May 24, 2009, 6:47 AM. (Retrieved April 29, 2010, 2:19 PM.) http://www.robertheiny.com/2009/05/new-era-school-initiative-nesi_24.html

Robert Reed Comment, New Era School Initiative (NESI): Doynit on School Reform, The Tablet PC Education Blog, March 30, 2009, 5:27 PM. (Retrieved April 29, 2010, 2:26 PM.) http://www.robertheiny.com/2009/03/new-era-school-initiative-nesi.html

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Posted by The Tablet PC In Education Blog, June 07, 2009, 2:20 PM. (Retrieved April 29, 2010, 9:21 AM.) http://www.robertheiny.com/2009/06/new-era-school-initiative-nesi_07.html

Robert Heiny
Robert Heinyhttp://www.robertheiny.com
Robert W. Heiny, Ph.D. is a retired professor, social scientist, and business partner with previous academic appointments as a public school classroom teacher, senior faculty, or senior research member, and administrator. Appointments included at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Peabody College and the Kennedy Center now of Vanderbilt University; and Brandeis University. Dr. Heiny also served as Director of the Montana Center on Disabilities. His peer reviewed contributions to education include publication in The Encyclopedia of Education (1971), and in professional journals and conferences. He served s an expert reviewer of proposals to USOE, and on a team that wrote plans for 12 state-wide and multistate special education and preschools programs. He currently writes user guides for educators and learners as well as columns for TuxReports.com.

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