This week I was having a conversation with a colleague of mine about the currently changing role of teachers in classrooms as technology is becoming more pervasive. This year our district has pushed all teachers to have an online presence of some sort. In my class, I did a full “Flip” of my classroom as I have been doing so partially for the past couple of years. I chose to do this because I have changed my view of how I teach at a fundamental level. I have never really been cool with the idea of being “the sage on the stage”, I have always looked for a reason way to be a more mentor or guide than traditional teacher. In the past I have used the term Facilitator to describe my role, but as my colleague pointed out this denotes a simplistic view that any untrained person could. While there is this need for facilitators in the educational spectrum, this role should not make up the bulk of the teaching or educational staff.
The facilitator would simply follow the preprogrammed curriculum and relay on automated systems to check assignments. In this way the traditional role of a teacher is a facilitator and not an actual teacher, a classroom substitute teacher can be a prime example of a facilitator. While these types of educators can handout materials and assign the assignments. Facilitators typically do not have the subject matter expertise or experience to make judgement calls on assignments or create/modify new materials when it is needed. In this capacity they have a very limited role in their ability to educate students.
Teachers however, have to adjust to a changing role both in the classroom and outside of the classroom. In the classroom, they have a more focused role as content creators and subject matter experts. While it is great to have the premade lessons and the pacing guides to keep a class progressing through the materials, teachers need to be more open to changing these and going with the flow when it is appropriate. While standards and benchmarks are important for students to meet learning goals, they should not by the only metric that is used by a teacher. If we are sacrificing teachable moments and impromptu learning for standards and benchmarks this creates a problem of rigidity in the classroom. This brings up the questions of how to get all of the information that needs to be passed onto students in a given amount to them. Much of the information being passed is often in the form of lectures and demonstrations that are presented in repetition to classes. These are teaching practices that do pass on valuable information to students can be recorded and viewed for homework which has led to the Flipped Method of teaching. This then frees up classroom time for more valuable time to allow teacher student interactions or allow for asynchronsis learning methods to incorporated into the classroom. This greater time also allows students to utilize more meaningful project based learning, which drive deeper learning and passion for the subject. These direct discussions with students or one-on-one help given to students can be extermely meaningful and drive the learning process in a classroom, but can not be done under a traditional sage-on-the-stage teaching model.