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Transforming Teachers, Transforming Schools: Turning "Sages" into "Guides on the Side" By Steve McCrea, M.P.A. Instructor, Broward College, Fort Lauderdale, Florida Abstract Many teachers teach the way they in my lessons. They took notes. were taught. If asked to explain why Something was going on here. they lecture to their students, the Something I had done or read had response is often, "My teachers wrote changed me so that my classes were on the board and I took notes. It somehow magnetic. This article worked for me." Brain research shares with you what happened to indicates that other techniques me. increase blood flow to parts of the I was a lecturer for the first nine brain associated with cognition. This years of my teaching career. From presentation provides anecdotal 1996 to 2005, I worked as a teacher of evidence about the impact of this English to adults and I spent every research when applied to a single class giving lectures. Then I heard a classroom or in online classes. When a remarkable interview on National teacher becomes a "guide on the Public Radio with Dennis Littky, side," there is a change in the school's founder of the Met Center in culture that can be measured. This Providence, Rhode Island, USA. Until presentation is extracted from four we learn what the students passions books: 57 Free Posters to Transform and interests, its just school. After we Schools, How To Be a Virtual Mentor start teaching to the students and Let's Lecture Less, edited by passions and interests, there is Steve McCrea ( nothing to stop them from wanting to and Mario Joel Llorente Leyva learn more and to connect the ( A book for schoolwork to their future lives parents called Ten Videos, Ten Ebooks (Littky, 2004, page 34). and Ten Websites sets the stage for Dennis Littky's Seven Points teachers to distribute a DVD for Go to the website of Littkys parents and students to use for school,, or search random learning away from school. "NPR Littky April 2005." You will have the direct experience that I did Introduction and you might be impelled to put into The idea for the practice the seven key points website and mentioned by Littky: book Guide On the Side came when I - students learn through projects; realized that students were clamoring - teachers get to know the students to get into my classes (I was teaching (eating dinner at least once every two an intensive three-week English months in their homes); language program in Fort Lauderdale). - teachers teach every subject Three teachers (who were escorting (yes, math teachers teach literature, their students from Italy) asked to sit science teachers teach art, French

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teachers teach math and science); them. Ken Robinson (2009) points out - quotes are placed on walls to that a class of seven-year-olds will all encourage random learning; put up their hands if you ask, "Who - tests are "stand-up" exhibitions; likes to draw?" Ask the same question students go on internships and report in a class of 16-year-olds and only a back to the school what they learned; minority will raise their hands. - every student writes a 75-page Hmmm. How has the school so biography about their family effectively weeded out the drive to members (we all need to know where create? we came from, what our families did Here are techniques to and how they got here); and encourage creativity that Gerald - grading is with a narrative every Aungst (2011) recommends: eight weeks (a kid said, "I'm more Plant the seed. Instead of a vague than a letter in the alphabet," and that be creative, tell someone, give me inspired Littky to require teachers to an idea that only you could come up write and talk to kids about what they with.. did, how they could improve their Make it messy. Creativity is work and what will be the next squashed when people feel like they challenge in the next eight weeks). are looking for one right answer. For Daniel Pink (2011), the award- students, give them problems that winning author of books about have multiple solutions business trends, gives similar Never accept the first answer. It educational advice: The key themes sets an expectation that one answer, about what motivates students and even if it works, isnt the end of the people in general are autonomy, process but just the beginning. mastery and purpose, not a higher Teach creativity techniques. grade-point-average or other extrinsic Techniques can give people a factors. Guides on the side must concrete handle on something that choose instead to teach toward inner can seem abstract and complicated. values. Reverse the roles. Instead of giving an assignment to students, ask them Great Teachers are Born, Not to tell you what they would do if they Made (oh?) were the teacher. One way to become a great Get out. Changing the location of the guide on the side is to stop class can change students thinking preaching and teaching and instead (from Aungst's blog). listen better (Postman, 1969). Become a facilitator, arrange the classroom to EBooks follow the principles that Littky Teachers who are not familiar demonstrates, that Dennis Yuzenas (a with project-based learning or with teacher in Palm Beach Florida) uses, constructivist approaches (that build that dozens of innovative schools the curriculum around the individual have as part of their curriculum. It's student) might ask, "But how do not WHAT is taught but rather how students get the information if I'm not students are encouraged to find ways lecturing to them? Who will present to get the material presented to the information?" 2

Read Abraham Fischler's description of learn at different rates, why wouldn't the role of the computer in the you make the student the class? classroom (computer-assisted (excerpted instruction or CAI): from by Our schools will turn out to be A. S. Fischler). better schools if we design the Other sources of information are schools and the curriculum to be more videos, ebooks and audio CDs. Why responsive to the client. Right now most of our schools are responsive to not do what many professors at Stanford University are doing and put the class. Unless we change the organization and structure, there are your lectures on videos and send them home with your students? limits to how we can do better with Students are expected to review the one teacher and 25 or 22 students. The teacher is teaching the 22 or 25 videos before the class and arrive reading to discuss the themes of the students as a class. But with the day (Fellet, 2011). Class time turns introduction of technology that is into "Question and Answer" sessions responsive to the student, then you where students "perform their can open up the class to make time understanding" (Howard Gardner's the variable. It's not a major shift. We're just term) and the teacher checks for utilizing modern technology instead of misconceptions. The concept of the teacher as the presenter of core "flipping the classroom" is easily information. CAI also gives students conveyed to parents and students even when they are not at the same with Katie Gimbar's YouTube level the opportunity to form groups. performance (search "Katie Gimbar We make sure that each group has a flip classroom"). responsive, bright kid, who can give Seventeen Quotations leadership to the group of three. Perhaps the most effective Everyone in the group ought to be strategy that emerged from my able to provide some input to the classroom is the use of quotations. resolution of what they are working Instead of asking students to change on. their behaviors, I presented these These are not profound changes. Teachers can't continue to quotations to the students. After they had studied the quotations, several be the presenters to the class because not everyone in the class is students asked that I continue with the new method of letting them ready to receive what the teachers say. When talking about English and decide individually what they would work on during the week. Less Math (and certain aspects of social studies and science), the students are lecturing, more independent projects; fewer tests, more exhibitions (stand generally at different levels of up and deliver some information). comprehension because they are Here are some quotes that guide me individuals and they have different in becoming a facilitator. talents and they learn at different The teacher of the future is a GUIDE rates. It's simple. If you know that on the SIDE, not a sage on the stage. people have different talents and
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Aphorism What are you going to tell the Education is NOT the filling of a pail, students? What is your expertise? But but rather the LIGHTING of a FIRE. teaching is really about bringing out Yeats, also attributed to Plutarch what's already inside people. Dennis Most students might forget what you Littky taught them, but they will always If individuals have different kinds of remember how you treated them. -- minds, with varied strengths, interests often stated in teacher-training and strategies, then could biology, seminars. math and history be taught AND I never let school get in the way of ASSESSED in a variety of ways? my education. Mark Twain Howard Gardner Drive out fear. W. Edwards Deming Trust. Truth. No Put-downs. Active Keep Talking Time" to a minimum. - Listening. Personal Best. dictum in the CELTA teacher training course POSTERS: I place these quotations Schools teach children to obey. But on walls, I assemble them on a single we need creative answers to the page and lead a workshop with challenges of our times. Many of the parents, I send the quotes home and people who've had the greatest ask parents to talk about the quotes influence on our times were failures in with their children, I call each home school. Ken Robinson and talk with the parents about what The greatest sign of success for a ideas they have after reading the teacher is to be able to say, The quotes. In other words, posters children are now working as if I did (when properly formatted) help me not exist. Maria Montessori confront questionable assumptions Lets create people who are capable that students have about education of doing new things, not simply of (see Clark, 2004) and flip the repeating what other generations classroom. The posters conform to have done. Jean Piaget Richard Clark's two-factor rule: a) Innovative schools offer small posters should have an easily classes, individualized instruction, and remembered analogy and b) posters flexible curricula which can should go beyond merely drawing accommodate the child. The same attention to an issue and should give teacher stays with the same group of specific procedures to follow (Clark, children for as many as eight grades. personal communication, February 8, The teacher has to grow and learn 2013). Academics have become with the children. Dennis Littky about 25 percent of my classwork, Many teachers believe that they since nutrition, physical health, need to control how they teach and emotional health and the spirits of my how they test. Other teachers students are now together taking up negotiate with their students what three-quarters of my time as a they will learn, when they will learn it teacher. I'm spending more time and how we will check that they have looking for and talking with mentors learned it. Dennis Yuzenas for my students than I am spending as Unfortunately, to most people, a traditional teacher (writing lesson teaching is the giving of knowledge. plans, developing tests and assigning 4

grades). The list of "survival skills" (Tony Wagner, who interpreted a list from gives a lens that helps students focus on what they should pull out of each lesson, each ebook, each video, and each activity that I send home.

the students" (a quotation by John Gardner). The mantra is NO MORE BORING LESSONS (A mantram is a

sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation" -- Wikipedia). Let's see how

transforming one teacher can transform a school. Download ebooks and videos on a DVD or USB flash Conclusion Become an ex-teacher. Become drive and send your lessons home. If your students have a robust a facilitator. Read these quotations connection to the Internet at home, daily with your students (in online then compile lists of websites and classes, distribute one or two of the quotations and ask students to reflect videos that they can watch with their parents (starting with Ten Videos, Ten on how we can apply procedures in Ebooks and Ten Websites). Observe the class to meet the aims of the quotations). Paste the words on walls what happens, write your anecdotal evidence and send your observations (or in email messages) and ask students to rewrite the ideas in their to own words. "Let's gradually transfer You are invited to spread this virus of the responsibility for their learning to guiding on the side.

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References Aungst, G. (3 October 2011). "Don't be creative." Retrieved at on 24 October 2011. Clark, R. and Feldon, D. (2004). "Five Common but Questionable Principles of Multimedia Learning." Retrieved at Fellet, M. (2011). Faculty collaborate to improve online education. Stanford Report (newspaper, June 28). Retrieved at on 24 October 2011. Fischler, A. (July 2006). "My vision." (blog). Gardner, H. (1994). Intelligence reframed. New York: Basic Books. Gimbar, K. (2009). Why I flipped my classroom. King, A. (1993). From sage on the stage to guide on the side. College Teaching 41(1), 30-35. Littky, D. (2004). The Big Picture: Education is everybody's business. Alexandria, Va.: McCrea, S. and Llorente, M. (2011). Let's Lecture Less. Pink, D. (2011). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York: Penguin Group. Postman, N. and Weingartner, C. (1971) Teaching as a subversive activity . New York: Dell Books. Robinson, K. (2009). The element. New York: Penguin Group. Stanford University (2009). Faculty collaborate to improve online education. Retrieved from the Internet v=ld5yexNl5I0 on 24 October 2011. Wagner, T. (2009) The Seven Survival Skills. Yuzenas, D. (2011). "Motivation," an article in Guide On The Side. Fort Lauderdale, FL: Sundial Press.

Author Steve McCrea is founder of (BIB), a charity inspired by the lifework of Brooks Emeny (a pioneer in international relations). BIB promotes wider use of social networks and computer-based discussions in classrooms and homes through He is a part-time instructor at a charter school and at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale. He is currently coordinating the translation of his book Let's Lecture Less (which prints pieces of his website into eight languages and the translation of Dennis Littky's book The Big Picture into Spanish and Arabic. He wrote a curriculum for a project-based learning high school ( Eight people have taken his online workshop to become qualified as Visual and Active Teachers (VATT) and his Certificate of Applied Instructional Technologies is offered through the University of Havana. He is a doctoral student at Nova Southeastern University. He can be reached at, and by mobile at +1 (954) 646.8246. The posters and ebooks mentioned in this article are available for download at and he will send a free copy of the "DVD for Parents" (with videos, ebooks and audio files) on request ($2 to cover the cost of duplication and shipping is appreciated). The 4 Gigabytes of files can also be transferred via a strong Skype connection (SteveEnglishTeacher).