Thursday, 25 July 2013

Moving from Pilot to Air Traffic Controller - The future of teaching?

As part of my Google Teacher Academy, we got to thinking about what may be the role of the teacher in the coming years, how that might change, and what we would like to see. As I sat and thought about it these were the major themes that stood out for me.

Going from the Pilot to the Air Traffic Controller

If we were to think about our students as planes approaching an airport, we can see student aircraft:
  • approach your Grade Level Airport from different directions, at different speeds and altitudes.
  • They will leave your grade level airport again at different speeds, altitudes and directions.
Often in traditional classroom the teacher is basically the pilot of jet full of students. As the pilot we have a system where:

All students are going to the same place at the same time.
All students move on to the next destination at the same time.
Higher achieving students are often put into a holding pattern while the teacher helps the struggling students to achieve Grade level expectations.

Rather than being the Pilot and taking all the responsibility for all the learning, teachers should aim to be "Air Traffic Controllers". In this model teachers then begin to:
  • Help students to decide on their next destination based on their skills and strengths
  • Give them a destination, but allow them to get there by themselves. You can always support them from the tower, but not fly the plane for them.
  • For those students whose flights are delayed (behind in their academic skills) as the Air Traffic Controller, you can help those students to develop their skills, and perhaps give them some intermediate destinations to build their confidence and ability.
The move from ultimate decision maker, to advisor and project manager will help students become more autonomous and hopefully intrinsic learners.