Tag Archives: educators

Re-blog: Educators Who Inspire Spotlight Series


Today, I (Pooja) wanted to share a new online series created by my friend. Curious by international educational reform, her series aims to shed light on the insights and work of “educators who inspire” form around the globe. Her first spotlight introduces us to an educator, Aaron Eden, from the Green School in Bali. Eden is the Director of Entrepreneurial  Enterprise Learning at the Green School. Watch the interview and hear Eden’s thoughts on educational reform.





Teacher Image in the U.K.


Gillian Harvey from The Telegraph argues for a shift in how teachers are viewed in the U.K. She argues:“[r]ather than heaping initiative upon initiative or effecting more change on a curriculum that is altered almost before it can be implemented, it would be better to take measures to improve the image of the profession as a whole.”

Harvey claims teachers fall victim to a culture of blame in education. Teachers are blamed for many things ranging from unprepared youth for the work force to a failure to raise standards. However, Harvey points out that the government officials often receive credit for perceived successes in education. She comments: “[y]ou can rest assured that the moment improvements happen, the praise will be placed at the doors of Nicky Morgan and David Cameron.”

In an era of educational reform driven by data, teachers are feeling pressure to do what it takes to have the data reflect their “effective” teaching. However, as result, pupils in the classroom may be suffering. Harvey says, “teachers are spending more and more time on meaningless bureaucracy and less on teaching and learning or interacting with pupils.”

An interesting read! To read the entire article click here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationopinion/11645808/Does-teaching-have-an-image-problem.html

New Moms: We Are Here for You

Leah McLarenLeah McLaren, a columnist for the Globe and Mail (our national newspaper), wrote an open letter to the wife of Peter McKay (Canadian Justice Ministry). McKay has been embroiled in a scandal regarding leaked emails he sent to his staff for Mother’s and Father’s day:

“The Mother’s Day email hailed women for the home and childcare duties they perform before arriving at the office, while the Father’s Day message made no mention of diapers or school lunches, and instead praised them for “shaping the minds and futures of the next generation of leaders.” http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/mackay-enough-has-been-said-about-sexism-controversy-1.1889490

In McLaren’s article she talks about the challenges of being a new mother (McKay’s wife, Busy MomNazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay) recently had a baby. On our research teams we (Clare and Clive) have a number of new Moms who are juggling work, study, childcare, and …. Although they do not complain I (Clare) can see the exhaustion written all over their faces. I witness how their confidence ebbs as they so often feel like they are not doing enough, they are not carrying their weight on the team, they are not spending sufficient time on their research, and on and on. McLaren advises Nazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay:

No matter how overwhelming it feels now, while your son is small and dependent, remember that one day it will change. The former you – the activist and author and tireless campaigner who never had spit up in her hair or a soother in her handbag – is still there, lurking at the back of your neglected shoe closet. She might have receded for the moment, but she will emerge again. And in the meantime, here’s a tip: Don’t be afraid to ask your husband to do more. I know he’s busy.

Check out the full article are: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/article19344705.ece

Given the way careers unfold many female doctoral students and new faculty are new Moms. Take heart – you are doing plenty and do not forget that that you are smart women who deserve to be in academia. Brush that guilt off your shoulders. The exhaustion will pass and you will be stronger and wiser. Remember, we are here for you and will continue to be here for you because you are our valued colleague and friend. Print off McLaren’s article and when you need a boost, read it (mind you it might be at 2:00 a.m.).

Defining Literacy

Literacy in the 21st century. What does it mean? Or perhaps the better question to ask is, what does it mean TO YOU?Children reading

  • If you are a writer, editor, public relations manager perhaps literacy means the the ability to read and write.
  • If you are a financial advisor perhaps literacy means the ability to understand “how money works in the world” (financial literacy).
  • If you are a journalist, analyst, or film maker perhaps literacy means the ability to “analyze, evaluate and create messages in a wide variety of media modes…” (media literacy).
  • If you are weather analyst, forest ranger, or environmentalist perhaps literacy means the ability to “understand ecological principals and the ways society  affects, or responds to environmental conditions” (environmental literacy).
  • In keeping with the Winter Olympics, if you are an athlete, perhaps literacy means the ability to “move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments” (physical literacy).
  • If you are an elementary school educator, literacy means all of the above. If you are a elementary school student, literacy means all of the above.
  • If you are a literacy teacher educator, literacy means… By Yiola
    * definitions taken from online google searches, mainly wikipedia.

PISA Results December 2013

The recently released PISA results have many Asian countries scoring substantially higher than the US, UK, and Canada on math, reading, and science. Some people are saying this shows that the latter countries need to place more emphasis on “the basics” (such as times tables, formulas, spelling, etc.) rather than problem solving and relevance. My response is threefold:

 ·      Part of the disparity in scores is due to typical features of Asian schooling that I don’t think are desirable: high-stakes national exams, cram schools, and enormous pressure on students to learn the basics at any cost. I rarely meet people from Asia who are glad they experienced this kind of schooling.

·      Part of it is because we’ve asked teachers to teach for meaning and relevance without showing them how. In math, for example, we give them an 36 hour math methods course in teacher education and send them out to reverse a lifetime of experience and cultural initiation.

·      Clearly, teachers need to do BOTH – teach the basics AND meaning, relevance, etc. And I believe this is entirely possible. But we need to figure out how to do it and systematically teach and model it in pre-service and in-service (in the context of the various subjects), rather than just making general pronouncements about constructivism, discovery learning, and teaching for understanding.  

                                                                                                                                       Clive Beck


Frustration with Fitness

As many of my friends know, I love fitness. I did an aerobics class that left me talking to myself. The instructor is extremely fit and loves fitness but …. The class was so chaotic that I felt like I had been on the spin cycle of a washing machine – running this and that way, twirling every which way. What is so frustrating is that the instructor has been given so much feedback on her class — stop all of dashing about because no one can follow you. But she has not heeded any of the advice. This experience with the aerobics class is so much like teaching. Even if you know your subject well, you have to set up the class so that the students can follow your direction and then actually apply what they are learning.  Being attentive to learners to ensure that they thrive should be uppermost in the teacher’s approach. Whether it is a fitness class or a grade one reading class or a high school physics class or a literacy methods course in teacher education, students should not leave the session frustrated. Aerobics is hard. Learning is hard. Teachers need to focus on the students whatever the context. And my aerobics instructor should be mindful of the participants. We got up early on a weekend to do a workout (and in Toronto it was mighty cold this morning) so we were all keen to do a workout. What more could a teacher want? This might be something for policy-makers to consider. Engaging the learner should be the first priority! Teacher knowledge of content is important but there is so much more to teaching. Clare

Research Team Celebration

Our research team had a holiday celebration last night.  OurIMG_1923 team for the study of literacy/English teacher educators works so well. Building a research team is much more than organizing meetings; a research team has to be more like a community of practice where the personal and the professional overlap. Our team meetings include:  updates on personal issues (e.g., health of an ill parent), an agenda of work to be done in the given time, space to talk about professional issues (e.g., should I submit a proposal for a specific conference), and snack. Each meeting is punctuated with laughter (as we battle with NVivo) but we always accomplish “something.” I doubt that anyone ever leaves a meeting thinking that we did not get anything done or that their time was wasted. It takes time for a team to develop a rhythm and to develop a set of group norms. No one told me about how to develop a research team when I was a new professor.  Discussing how to build a research team should be part induction programs for new faculty. Clare

Study of Literacy Teacher Educators

We are well into phase two of the study on literacy teacher educators in four countries having interviewed 27 of our 28 participants. In this phase we have been looking at goals for their preservice literacy courses, teaching style, and pedagogies. One of the most interesting series of questions has to do with assignments. I have found that asking professors about their assignments tells a great deal about their goals. We have classified assignments into a few categories: digital-related assignment (e.g., digital essay), literacy autobiography, reading logs, lesson plans, curriculum units, portfolios, case study of a child, and assessment-related. There has been remarkable consistency in the types of assignments. Interestingly, almost all feel that the workload is demanding. A question we as a research team and as experienced literacy instructors are asking ourselves, Is the workload too heavy? Clare

Quality Teacher Educators

Lin Goodwin and Clare just published the article Goodwin. L. A. &  Kosnik, C.  (2013) Quality teacher educators = quality teachers?: Conceptualizing essential domains of knowledge for those who teach teachers. This article  identifies domains of knowledge for teacher educators and argues that they need induction and on-going support. The article is published in Teacher Development: An International Journal of Teachers’ Professional Development 17(3) 334-346.

A Foot In Many Camps

The first publication from Clare’s research on literacy teacher educators has just been published. With her co-authors Lydia Menna, Pooja Dharmashi, Cathy Miyata, & Clive Beck “A foot in many camps: Literacy teacher educators acquiring knowledge across many realms and juggling multiple identities” has just been published in the Journal of Education for Teaching 39(5), 534-540.