Teaching is often described as a professional practice with dispositions and beliefs in both the humanist and the scientist.
Most notably, this binary was identified as part of the popular consciousness view of education by C.P. Snow in his work The Two Cultures. It is important to note that Snow’s premise sees this separation as a false dichotomy. In turn, education – and by this, I mean both teaching and learning – would do better by its teachers and students to see these two cultures as a synthesis of ideas and not as divisive elements.
But where does embracing education as a combination of both cultures leave us? In my experience, the synthesis frames teaching as a “craft” or a field demonstrating aspects of both the humanist and scientist. Famed educator and scholar Paulo Freire summarizes educators’ craft this way, “The teacher is, of course, an artist, but being an artist does not mean that he or she can make the profile, can shape the students. On the contrary, what the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves.”
From there, Freire’s sentiment pushes our thinking toward the practices of a teacher, yielding questions like, “What does good teaching look like?” and “What does it mean to learn something?” More recently, Ron Ritchhart, in his outstanding work Creating Cultures of Thinking, proposes a principle that guides our replies to both questions and more. He offers that “learning is a product of thinking.” With this design element, we can observe good teaching – educators who design experiences for students to think – and confirm that students can demonstrate the learning they have constructed through this process.
So how do the insights of Snow, Freire, and Ritchhart support your work? When you approach schools, it is essential to understand the schools’ culture related to teaching and learning. As we don’t have a national education system, navigating a district’s public website and school board policies is time well spent. This will inform you about the levers and jargon to use and tailor your approach in ways that resonate with schools. As you frame your answer to this question, “How can I support schools’ teaching and learning practices” consider these areas of research (and guiding questions) to help make decisions.
Portrait of a Graduate/School Vision: What does the district value for students and teachers? Is the district part of the national movement to develop a Portrait of a Graduate (see the districts here)? What areas of your vision and mission are you great at, or can you be better at implementing?
Instructional Model: What types of instruction are valued in the district?
- Does teaching embrace student voice and inquiry and highlight how learning relates beyond the classroom? Are teachers innovating their teaching practices?
- Assessment Practices: What types of assessments are valued in the district? Do the reviews support students’ creating a product or presentation demonstrating their learning? Does current teaching prepare students for this type of assessment?
Use of Technology: What are the district’s current practices and long-term vision?
- How can technology impact and innovate teaching and learning? How is technology being used by students to demonstrate their understanding?
- Teacher Professional Development: What are the district’s current formats, frequencies, and offerings? What areas of PD have they been wanting to deliver or have a history of providing – especially around instructional practices?
As your brand ventures into school districts, it can help to have an expert on your side. This is where Agile Education comes into play, with our wide range of solutions and resources that can make all the difference. From market intelligence to data services, we are here to support our clients in finding success. To learn more, reach out to Agile Education today.