Blended Learning Requires Teachers to Learn New Skills

Source: MSDF blog, Sep 2012

When each child is able to learn at his or her own pace, teachers have little choice but to let go of the idea that all students must be doing the same thing at the same time.

And while that may sound like a less demanding role than that of omniscient lecturer, teachers quickly discovered otherwise. With students in the same class working on different projects and progressing at their own pace, teachers had to plan out multiple lessons in advance, at a minimum one week and often further ahead, so that those students capable of moving faster through the material were able to do so.

What new skills are required by blended learning?

These “flipped” classrooms place a variety of new demands on teachers, ranging from classroom management skills to facility with digital content tools – with a particular focus on analyzing and using the real-time data about what students are and aren’t learning each day.

The challenge BLAST teachers faced in learning how to use this real-time data to inform their lesson plans and instructional approaches is far from unique. As a recent study from the National Council or Quality Teaching (NCTQ) found, most university schools of education do a poor job of training educators in the use of data-driven assessment and instruction. And although the NCTQ report focused only on traditional assessment tools of classroom exams and standardized tests, it nevertheless underscores the increased importance of training teachers who work in blended learning environments about  the use of daily data to assess and differentiate instruction for all students.

What’s the upside for teachers?

With blended learning still early in its development, there’s no teacher handbook.  All teachers are equally new. The teachers of today are creating best practices and developing techniques for the teachers and education schools of tomorrow.  And that’s both very rewarding and very difficult work. It takes both discipline and agility to monitor and incorporate real-time data into instructional practice. But as one teacher told me, “I am such a better teacher now.  I used to think I was a good teacher and people told me I was a good teacher.  Now I realize how many kids I missed in the traditional classroom.”


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