Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Skilled Workers

By Mark Heintz

On Monday, April 6, 2015, our district had an in-service day.  In the new contract signed last year, our Education Association and District Administration agreed to add an in-service day to the school calendar.  The day's intent was to allow teachers time to digitally convert their curriculum.   The day was great!  In the early stages of planning, I might have been a nay-sayer, but thanks to @Ashida_Linda and @MrsMiklusak, their wisdom prevailed.   In the morning,  spark sessions were given from a variety of staff members on topics from flipped classroom to the use of stop motion videos. The spark sessions flowed to two hours of EdCamp. You can read more about it here.  

Not to change subjects, but recently my history classes finished learning about the industrial revolution.  I can't help but make the connection between the in-service day and industrialization.  No, I am not talking about horrible working conditions or child labor.  I am writing on the needs for educated workers and the development of skilled laborers to work in factories.  People needed to be educated to work the complicated machines and perform a specialized job.

The in-service day showed how teaching has become increasingly skilled.  With the proliferation of technology and the ease of accessing information, teachers are shifting their role. New brain research drives educators to understand what methods work better to maximize learning.  Brain research coupled with new technology, it is hard to stay current with both the brain research and the technology.   The pedagogical techniques to meld these two together are difficult skills to master. The in-service day was great way to allow teachers to see a variety of new techniques and hear the latest brain research on effective teaching.  It was even better because the day allowed for time to development, collaborate, explore and create materials for their classroom from the new understandings they received at the beginning portion of the day.

A final thought: the day reminded my of a scene from Scrubs where two doctors are talking about how hard it is to stay up on the current research and how times have changed.  I have only been teaching for nine years, and the changes are drastic from when I first began.  I am fortunate to be in a school and district that has so many support systems in place to provide the tools and knowledge to become even more specialized and skilled in the art of teaching.  The teachers I work with constantly push me to new understandings of students and different ways to approach the subject matter.  I work in a school where teachers share ideas constantly.  It makes it easier to grow and stay current in a world that is ever changing.

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