This is transformative…

Sitting in a staff meeting… Teachers seated in the audience, a select group of people at the front leading the meeting dispensing information. Information that may be important to know yet an inefficient way to accomplish the task.

That day I remember one statement – emphatically declared that sat like an irritating pebble in my shoe, “It’s about learning, it’s not about teaching.”

This statement was not unpacked at the time and I wondered what it meant for me as an educator. I was annoyed. After all, I am a teacher! Isn’t it my job to teach?

I’ve come a long way since that day and so have staff meetings, which are now opportunities for professional development.

What is the real work of an educator? The following quote is from the book UDL and Blended Learning Thriving in Flexible Learning Landscapes, by Katie Novak and Catlin Tucker which describes the role of today’s educator:

“As educators we have the power and privilege to design learning experiences that help students learn how to learn. The three UDL principals were designed to ensure that all students become expert learners. This is completely transformative because, in the past the main goal of school was teaching content. Through UDL and blended learning we shift our focus from teaching content to teaching learning. Page 149

What is UDL – Universal Design for Learning?

The first chapter of this book explains the 3 principles of UDL and provides three questions to ask as educators.

Universal design for learning aims to provide multiple means of engagement, multiple means of representation, and multiple means of action, and engagement for all students. That is a lot to unpack too! These three questions drive instructional design:

  • What do all learners need to know or be able to do?
  • Based on variability what barriers may prevent students from learning?
  • How do I design flexible blended pathways for all learners to learn and share what they know? Page 39

What is Blended Learning?

With my experience as an online teacher this definition of Blended Learning resonates with me. Blended Learning gives students the opportunity to have control over the time and place, pace and path, of their learning. Technology has become increasingly accessible, devices and online tools have given students greater scope, creativity, and flexibility in the ways they learn. It is this creativity and opportunities for out of the box thinking that hooked me when I designed lessons online.

UDL and Blended Learning Thriving in Flexible Learning Landscapes, by Katie Novak and Catlin Tucker will expand your understanding of these ideas and give you practical examples of how to make this work in your setting. It’s the kind of book that makes me nod in agreement and reflect on my own teaching practices. BlendED Alberta is currently hosting an online book study; we are on week 4 out of 5 weeks. (Tuesday, March 1, @ 7:00 PM. it is not too late if you want to join us.). Check our website.

If that is not an option, there is an even more exciting opportunity. Join us for the 2022 BlendED Symposium April 6th to 9th. All sessions are after school hours and on Saturday morning – no supply teacher required! Catlin Tucker is our Keynote speaker Saturday morning.

“It’s about learning, it’s not about teaching.” might just have been a provocation – it is about learning and it is about teaching. It is about shifting our focus. Join us and learn more, at the BlendED Symposium.

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