Note: This episode was recorded on March 9. This episode includes in-depth conversations about COVID-19’s impact on school districts in the context of the active coronavirus cases as of March 9.
We will air special COVID-19 coverage that will focus on K-12 education beginning March 23.
Does blended learning make teaching easier or harder?
Catlin Tucker has been a thought leader in the world blended learning. But a lot of the educators Tucker would interact with perceived blended learning as more work for teachers.
“I couldn’t understand why that was,” says Tucker.
So, as Tucker started visiting classrooms she realized teachers were still doing the lion’s share of the work in the classrooms even when they were trying a blended classroom. Tucker noticed that workflows were staying traditional and it was placing a lot of burden on the teachers.
For example, she says the teachers would
- set the assignment
- 150 kids complete it
- teacher collects those assignments
- teacher processes the work
- teacher inputs the data in the grade book
- the teacher passes the assignments back to the students.
Tucker says she also observed a lot of teacher talking and students listening. But she feels there should be much more balance between the two.
Blended Learning Requires a Mind-Shift
Tucker goes about blended learning from a different angle. She says it requires a mind-shift around how teachers view their role and their students’ role in education.
“What responsibilities do we each own and which responsibilities do we each share?”
Tucker says teachers should feel more like they are partnering with students. She suggests using models in dynamic ways to try and create time and space in the classroom. Hopefully, this will allow for teachers to move some of that work they traditionally would take home, back into the classroom.
“I wasn’t in the front of the room. I was sitting side by side with them, giving feedback as they worked.”
Tucker also suggests frequent conferencing with students about their goals and pulling them into a side-by-side assessment conversation where the teacher grades the work as the student sits next to them.
Tucker highlights the topics in her new book “Balance With Blended Learning.” In it, she talks about the value of forming a partnership with kids and she goes in-depth on metacognitive skill-building and real-time feedback. All tools that allow teachers to have more balance inside and outside of the classroom.
“I think if we don’t start to really shine some light on how we can approach this job in a sustainable way, we are going to continue to lose exceptional people from this profession,”
More of a coach less of a fountain of knowledge
Tucker says that if teachers are moving into a blended space hopefully that means that they’re starting to look at their role as a more of a coach and less of a purveyor of information.
She suggests letting go of the traditional roles and not lead the class by talking and transferring information. Tucker says teachers need to use that time to give feedback and work with students one-on-one.
It’s all about balance
Tucker is concerned about the number of great teachers that quit because of the toll teaching can take on a person.
“I think if we don’t start to really shine some light on how we can approach this job in a sustainable way, we are going to continue to lose exceptional people from this profession,” says Tucker.
Her goal is to help educators find ways to use technology in moderation.
“How do we leverage technology to shift students to the center of learning?”
For Tucker, the goal is to have students ask questions and investigate topics. She believes that the more we can shift students to the center of learning the less pressure there will be on the teacher at the center of learning.
To learn more about Blended Learning with Catlin Tucker, listen to Episode 142 of the Class Dismissed Podcast. You can find the latest episode of the Class Dismissed Podcast on your favorite podcast app or iTunes.