Being on the same page
Lately I’ve been aware of competing ideas about teaching approaches in social media. The twitter sphere is becoming more combatant with tweets espousing the benefits of one educational approach over another. The challenge of “prove it” or “you are wrong” is tweeted without any respect to opinions based on experience and any “evidence” that isn’t quantitative or that results from experimental data. “Evidence-based” teaching has become the catch cry of a few in education who want to discredit anything they can’t accept or haven’t experienced themselves such as enquiry-based teaching.
Apparently you can’t sit on the fence anymore. You are required to agree on one approach only or suffer the rage of the twits (people who tweet) who don’t agree with you. We are definitely not “on the same page”. For our schools and system to be truly inclusive and therefore improve achievement of all learners we need to be “on the same page”.
Being “on the same page” is an analogy for a shared approach or a vision schools have to develop an inclusive approach. The results of my research in inclusive schools highlighted the importance of all school staff and its community to –
- enact curriculum and,
- communicate commitment to inclusion.
You can watch an introduction video about the meaning of “on the same page” here.
Inclusion is a hard concept to define. However, the most comprehensive definition of an inclusive approach was developed by Kathy Cologon (2013). It is definitely worth reading the full document that can be found here.
“Embracing human diversity” and ensuring “full participation” in learning requires teachers to apply a variety of teaching approaches that are judiciously chosen and purposefully employed.
Teaching in inclusive schools
Back to the competing discourses about how teachers should teach! I was beginning to wonder what happened to teachers choosing the appropriate approach based on the purpose of the learning and student need? Then surprisingly I found support for applying a variety of strategies for increased achievement in the 2015 PISA Vol II report.
Teachers who are challenging and innovative in the way they combine different instructional practices, … can reach all types of learners by adapting lessons to students’ needs and knowledge (2016, p. 37).
Further to this, students –
…perform better… when their teachers frequently explain and demonstrate scientific ideas, support students in their learning and expose them to more enquiry-based instruction (2016, p.37).
So happy was I!! I had found evidence to support my claims! I opened up my twitter account and tweeted the amazing news to the twitter sphere that teachers who combine different teaching approaches contributed positively to student achievement. It was current and PISA was in the news! Some twits liked the news, others did not. Again I was subject to the vitriol of the “only explicit teaching is effective” twits. I was told I was in denial though I’m not sure what about. I then posted that there are teaching blueprints such as Universal Design for Learning that combine explicit instruction and enquiry-based approaches just as recommended in the PISA report. I received no combatant retweets or messages this time…..just silence! Maybe the twits are armoring themselves with more experimental data to post or maybe, just maybe, they are considering that more than one approach used judiciously may actually be something to consider and put us all “on the same page”? Mind you I haven’t logged on to Twitter today!
Jennie Duke PhD