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Out of the classroom; into the …? July 12, 2015

Posted by IaninSheffield in Musings.
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 jesshillView image | gettyimages.com

Noting that only half of an audience at a particular ISTE session were practising teachers, in a post on Learn Enabling, Matt Esterman asks ‘should #eNoobs be in the classroom?’ (For #eNoob, read technology integrator, learning technologist etc). My answer swings back and forth like a pendulum from yes to no through maybe.

Cards on the table; whilst an eNoob, I’ve never had a teaching commitment (I discount the timetabled enrichment sessions I provide as they’re neither formally assessed, nor have a requirement to produce progress reports). Despite having taught for twenty years, I don’t teach now, so lay myself open to the accusation Matt mentions – “you don’t teach, so you don’t get it.” That’s true … depending on what ‘it‘ is. If it‘s to do with pedagogy, learning, classroom management, relationships with students and so forth, I’d like to think I’ve still got them covered. In fact I’ll go one further and (drawing on one of the positives of being out of the classroom that Matt mentions) claim that the space I’ve been afforded has enabled me to think more deeply about many of the elements which constitute being a teacher.  Coupled with that is the capability to reconsider and reformulate practice to leverage the potential that technologies have to offer. However I’ll concede that what I definitely ‘don’t get‘ is the pressure; I did get it when I was teaching, but can no longer claim to. I remember in-service training days where ‘experts,’ invariably no longer in the classroom, spoke to us and I’m sure I felt that they ‘didn’t get it‘ either; that they were somehow no longer credible. Now I’m that person on the other side of the fence, left wondering whether I’ve lost my credibility. Maybe since I’m still in school, that I’m prepared to support or model lessons, that I do teacher duties, organise student activities and attend staff meetings carry some sway? Maybe my (ahem!) mature years work in my favour? But who am I kidding?

Here’s the thing though. In sport, whether rugby, swimming, football, athletics, cycling or boxing, the coaches/managers no longer participate, yet are still held in high regard … assuming they are successful! Having served their time and having been successful players/competitors, the sportspeople they subsequently coach have respect for their achievements, confidence in their capability and a desire to learn from them. I’m pretty sure Jess Ennis Hill doesn’t expect Tony Minichiello to be sprinting down the track or leaping bars. What Jess expects from him is to know what she needs and to be able to help her to achieve her aims. I wonder why then (some) teachers view those who have moved out of the classroom with suspicion … or even contempt?

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