The Changing Role of The Teacher

A conceptual impact of the information age rests with redefining the role of the teacher.  If world class lectures and demonstrations can readily be accessed what should classroom time be allocated for?   Take the time to read the article linked below.

Reverse Instruction

It’s often said that the presence of Web 2.0 based technologies is forcing the world of education to redefine the role of the teacher.  A term thrown around is that of the teacher “shifting from the sage on the stage to the guide by the side.”  Others have argued the more accurate term would be “designer of learning”.

Some discussion questions:

1.  What predictions do you have for the growing impact technology will have in the world of K-12 education?

2.  What are new skills teachers must have to be successful?  What is the role of the administrator in making sure these skills are present?

3.  What are the potential criticisms of the “reverse instruction model”?


31 thoughts on “The Changing Role of The Teacher

  1. I have never thought about teaching in such a unique way as the reverse instruction model. All students want to do when they get home is “plug in” to technology. I can see students being much more excited about watching a you tube video on a lesson rather than answering math problems on looseleaf. One of the main problems I can see though is making this shift in the mindset of teachers, students, and PARENTS. Many parents could find this incredibly unconventional and distant. Student may also not take the lesson as seriously. It would be crucial to teach them skills such as note taking on areas they were confused.

  2. With information being so instant and right at our fingertips, I believe that it is important to embrace this as teachers and find a balance between traditional instruction and “reverse instruction.” Our role as teachers is obviously changing everyday so I feel that it is important to teach these 21st Century sills that students need to be successful in college and in their careers. After reading the article, it made perfect sense but I think the challenge will be how best to implement this in an elementary classroom ( or any classroom). I do think this approach could really give teachers a a great opportunity to differentiate instruction as well.
    Teresa M

  3. This is a wonderful idea for upper grade levels. We would now give students the opportunity to repeat a lecture/lesson. This would be great for students who need more time to comprehend. Parents would now understand what is happening in their child’s classroom and could become more involved in their education. By using the reverse instruction model teachers are now available to be more hands-on during class time. This would have been amazing when I was in high school!
    Challenges –
    Would students be responsible and take the time to watch?
    Can teachers let go of tradition?
    What about elementary schools?

    • I like several things you hit on Lisa! Especially the idea of possibly parents being more involved and aware of what their children are learning.

  4. I do like the idea of “reverse instruction”…. however one concern I have is… Are still using a traditional lecture approach, just filling students’ evenings with it? Any thoughts?

    • There always is the argument homework is irrelevant to learning anyway via Alfie Kohn and The Homework Myth. One advantage reverse instruction in terms of the lecture component offers is the possibility of a student being able to personalize their viewing of the material. They can pause and watch over and over a certain section.

  5. It was very interesting to read this article. I just read an article last week (see below) on the flipped classroom model at the high school I graduated from in Pittsburgh, PA.
    I think for some subjects this could work, but I’m not sure that it would be best for all subjects. For example, I’m not sure how this would work in fine arts classes, p.e. classes, or the STEM classes that are now being held at many high schools. There are still times when it very important for teachers to be present to guide students and clarify misconceptions from the beginning.
    I agree with Lisa in her list of the challenges. How do teachers monitor whether or not every student has watched the lecture? Also, would this have to be the model for every unit of instruction or should/could teachers alternate the method of delivery?

  6. The idea of a reverse instruction model of instruction sounds like a great way to instruct students. As we shift to teaching 21st Century skills, reverse instruction includes many of the skills needed to be successful in the 21st Century.

    • Two of the more important skills are collaboration and problem-solving. What a better way to teach students how to collaborate and problem-solve effectively than the teacher performing those skills in the classroom where students are able to witness them. One problem I forsee is availability of technology resources to ALL students outside of school. Outside of that, the reverse instruction model is a technique that we all will soon become familiar with.
      Antonio Johnson (This site is not accepting my posts)

  7. Very thought provoking. I thought of so many possibilities with the idea of reverse instruction. It seemed like a no brainer at first until I began thinking about logistics. Such as computer access, time to tape instruction, ways to ensure everyone is watching, learning styles, etc. If I was to implement something like this I would want to start very small, one subject or even unit. It seems like something that would save time and open up more time for differentiation. The teacher could be pulling groups and spending less time on the part of education we would label “traditional”, lecture. I have heard of Mr. Pink and some of his ideas, I was excited to hear more about his thoughts and philosophies. Learning from what others have tried is so exciting. As a fifth grade teacher I could see this as a very beneficial approach as long as I had all the kinks worked out.

    • The time to tape the instruction is a valid point. I was able to attend a few workshops on this strategy out in Boston last summer and that seemed to be one of the core issues. Of course given the rise of formats like the Kahn academy and others sharing their videos it might be more providential to just borrow or “liberate” another teachers introductory lecture on a topic.

    • I think Nicole posted some of the same concerns that I have. I think one of the reasons kids get into technology when they think it is fun and don’t have to be accountable for any follow up and follow through. It is the gaming idea. I had a class in college that was designed like a video game which I thought sounded really cool. However it was terrible. I spent more time trying to figure out what I was trying to look at and navigate through then working the content. It was very frustrating. I would be curious how you would go about keeping kids accountable for viewing the lessons. I know I have been giving a student extra assistance and have posted videos for him on edmodo with limited success.

      • I’d agree the accountability is a problem. The point made above that it is usually the underperforming students who already have lax parental support at home for their learning.

        But then again how is it really different from what goes on in the classroom now? Often times the least engaged student is the lowest performer. The challenge becomes if you are just transferring knowledge with direct instruction why not find someone who has taped themselves doing it in a better way?

  8. Good points on the teacher modeling the problem solving and critical thinking aspects. Teacher modeling seems to be critical in the area of teaching a number of skills.

  9. In some aspects, with all the technology, I feel people as a whole will be less intelligent in their writing and speaking. I feel they will be more intelligent in things that involve technology, but in terms of writing and speaking, I feel people won’t be as well spoken. Now, if you don’t know how to spell a word, all you need to do is type how you think it is spelled in Google, and then it will show you how to spell it. Also, in using Microsoft Word, when you mispell a word, it underlines it, and lets you know that it is mispelled. I feel that people won’t need to know the language as well as they do now. Also, when communicating online or via text, people use more slang, and abbreviation for words. Technology is obviously here to stay, I just hope that it isn’t a detriment to people’s intelligence.

    • Here’s a book along the line of thinking. “The Dumbest Generation”. One of the key arguments in the book is to state that the younger generation is very adept at social media and finding information but fail to have the critical thinking skills that could leverage the access to this information into true learning.

      I’m curious as it has come up a few times in these posts how important the role of the teacher in modeling the utilization of these tools. How big of an impact could the proper modeling of these tools have?

      • When it comes to the critical thinking, it is most certainly the weakest link in education and students. With common core standards coming down the pipes, it will be interesting to see the shift in the mindset of both teachers and students. Hopefully modeling of these concepts will increase making it easier to apply new tools in the classroom.

      • It is a good question. When you can find anything in the matter of seconds, it doesn’t really take much critical thinking. Instead of brainstorming, and trying to come up with possible solutions, it is easy just to type something in Google, and find it on the Internet.

  10. This is an interesting concept as we move into 21st century learning. As teachers it’s there are always those students who do not complete their daily homework. I would worry with this reverse teaching that those students would never really grasp the concepts and skills being taught in class due to the fact that they missed the lecture.

    • Generally the students not doing homework are your lower achieving students with not a lot of parental support. They come to school and need to hear your lectures/lessons, so are you truly being effective and meeting the needs of ALL students? I can see this concept used on a lighter scale. It would be great to video a summary of your lesson for students who need to hear it again for review. A nice home/school connection.

  11. To Kevin’s point I’ve had the opportunity to teach classes that are solely online and also take an online school finance class. To both of those experiences they were rather interesting and challenging. The teaching online was a growing experience the hardest part in the synchronous video portion was just the give and take of the conversation. The pauses and delays really alter the rhythm of a discussion. The technology “eluminate” worked well. The taking of the online course especially in a subject like finance was rather daunting. In that course I would say the real learning was the coping mechanism of the students who agreed outside to meet together and view the material each week and then taught each other to solve the problems. The joys of social learning.

  12. I believe that technology will continue to impact education more and more in the years to come. I think the impact will be positive!!

    Teachers and administrators must be current with the technologies and be able to use them. For some teachers, this is a daunting challenge. Administrators must provide ongoing workshops/training to their staff in order for them to be able to use the available technology to its fullest potential. Administrators must also have the ability to “sell” the current technology needs to the school board and community in order to get them funded.

    I think that some would feel that teachers aren’t doing their jobs if the lesson was delivered electronically. However, I love the concept. It would be really great for the students to have more hands on, group learning time available in the classroom where the teacher could model the lesson and challenge them.

  13. Technology is obviously restructuring our classrooms each and every day. In my school building we are already hearing/feeling the pressure to teach collaborative thinking and learning for our 21st century learners. Another pressure is why aren’t we just having labs in the afternoon and letting the students go ahead and think collectively and work collaboratively. Basically, get away from the front of the classroom. Many teachers of course put their arms up and say there is no way. Sometimes this is predominately because of the skills they do not know and the administrators pushing without any professional development. Teachers need to be rather savvy with technology to feel comfortable doing these presentations to their classrooms. I remember hearing at the ICE conference last year that the students we have in our classrooms today have brains that work at such a faster rate than the teachers that teach their class. If we are not using technology students usually do not seem as interested and their brains don’t know how to slow themselves down. As an administrator I feel that they need to be just as savvy as the teachers if not more, the teachers need to know that they have a support system to go to for help. Also, professional development is key. “Reverse instruction model” helps to engage students and let them work inside the classroom. Criticism that I can see is for the younger elementary students who may not be a great target for this instruction. Although, these types of technology lessons can be used inside the classroom as a great enhancement to their learning.

  14. Technology gives students the power to mold their lessons, and expand the ideas beyond anything a single book or teacher can possibly offer. I am unable to say how I would expect technology will truly effect the classroom. Will a single teacher replace an entire team of team? I do think eventually this will happen, but not very soon. I for one would love to give students more and more time to use technology to learn, but it is a cost issue, currently our school only has one computer for about every 13 students, this is not nearly enough to be effective on a daily basis.

    With technology entering our the educational environment and becoming the focus, comes the fact that teachers need to readjust their own beliefs about their expectations. No longer can we expect, nor should we expect to block out anything that is not exactly what we want students to learn. In order to learn in a technological world students must learn to desipher for themselves what is true or not true or for that fact what is even relevant. The next generation of teachers ulitimately need to be flexible and not affraid of allowing a student to fail, as long as they can help the student back up and direct them as to how they made their mistake.

    The first critisism I already see being posted, “it is not for younger grades.” This is possibly true, but it still may be possible to some extent. The second is the lack of interaction during the lesson itself, a student will need to remember their question until the following day essentially before connecting with the teacher and thus may loose the questions meaning. One is also putting a lot of expectations on students whom already struggle with doing anything once they reach their home. I personally could see many students that this would not work for based on their lack of support at home.

  15. When I first started reading this article, I thought this could be a great thing. However, reflecting a little harder on the idea I kept thinking about how many questions our kids ask during the lecture. Sure if they were watching the video at home they could write down any questions they might have, but would it be as effective and would they do it? Plus, as we all know, families are a lot busier after school than in the bygone days. Many scramble to find time to do homework each night and finding time to watch and really comprehend the lecture might be problematic. This could be a great reinforcement resource for students and parents, but at the elementary level I’m not sure it’s as practical.

    DeAnna Begner

  16. I see the pros and cons to reverse instruction and how it applies to my classroom. It is an interesting concept, and it seems like it would create more opportunities to differentiate instruction, which is my part of my professional growth plan this year.

    I feel that initially it would be something that would motivate students, however, when the novelty wears off, how would this be so different from traditional classroom lectures? Obviously, there would be more time to work with all students, but my greatest concern would be those that struggle. For example, if a student does not understand the concept presented in the lesson, it doesn’t matter if they watch it one time or one hundred times, a youtube video cannot approach the lesson from a different angle.

    I would like to see this in action. As an administrator, I think it would be important to have a lot of professional development on how this concept can be implemented successfully.

    • The novelty issue is always an important one to consider with technology integration. Is the newness of the tech tool the real motivator in learning or is it the transformative power of the tool that leads to the excitement. This is one of the topics we’ll be covering Monday night.

  17. I could see reverse instruction being used more in today’s education. Grades 5-12 would be more reasonable to start teaching this style of instruction. Students at this age should have enough responsibility and experience with technology to be able to complete “at home” lectures through the web.

    Skills to be successful
    – Use of technology: recording lectures, posting lectures to the web, updating class materials to the web, and creating collaborative lessons for in-class instruction (such as a pre-test to check to see if the students actually completed watching the lecture).

    The role of the administrator would be to make sure the teachers have everything to be successful to teach this type of strategy. The administrator should be a reliable source of information if a teacher needed assistance, they should provide training on possible in-service days, or even provide teachers with options of useful professional development workshops.

    First thing that comes to my mind about potential criticisms is computer availability to students. What happens if you school is a low income community and students don’t have a computer or internet access at home? If you are going to assign homework that solely involves access to the web, then you have to check to see if all students are capable. We don’t want to set the students up for failure, so if students are not capable of accessing in the lectures at home you should check for other possible venues (study hall, borrowing a school computer, town library, etc.).

  18. From Janelle Niemeier

    Wow! These are some great thoughts. I agree with DeAnna, with government holding teachers/schools to teaching specific standards/curriculum and the demand for tests and more tests to show learning, constructivist learning is not possible in its true form.

    I do believe that children are capable of a great deal that we are not seeing because of traditional instruction and curriculum requirements. An example would be my kindergarten students using the Smart Board and “troubleshooting” problems that occur. It is also neat to watch them help each other with it as some are much more adept at using technology.

    I like the idea of changing assumptions, especially where the students can choose the book or project and choose the learning tools. I am not sure about five hours of uninterrupted time.

    Nicole talked about the project approach at her son’s preschool. I have seen this style of learning and it offers a lot of excellent learning opportunities for all learners. Documenting learning in a variety of ways or using portfolios would show learning of individual students. I believe that this style of learning, what we saw in the video and project approach, enables children to take ownership, learn more and retain more. “If they are interested we can get more” – this is so true. But, too often children are learning what they need for the test and not retaining the information.

    Children are capable of a great deal, but I think this gets lost in the prescribed curriculum and time constraints. Are we losing learning here too? Maybe with the new Common Core we will see more of these opportunities.

    “Less us, more them” is new way to look at our teaching. It sounds like a lot of work, but the rewards and learning would make it well worth the change.

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