One quality that AI may put to extremely positive use would be objectivity – a lack of personal biases or prejudices. Properly programmed, my financial advisor AI should not be advising me to invest in areas where the advisor would get the biggest fee, but where I would stand to make the biggest return at the lowest risk. Would my AI dentist or doctor only recommend those procedures and medications that have proven rate of effectiveness not the most kickback from pharmaceutical companies? Would an AI intelligence agent be more likely to uncover double-agents in the office?
Of course, the burning question in education is “Would AIs make better teachers than humans?”
The buzz around AI writing tools continues in the education world. Of course, there are several AI tools that we’re already using, whether in the classroom or not. We were using AI tools long before anyone thought about them invading our classrooms, but we didn’t think they had classroom applications.
But none have gotten the coverage that ChatGPT has gotten since its launch on 30 November 2022.
I fear that the first response many educators will have is, “we have to block it right now.”
I understand teachers’ very valid concerns about any new technology tool, but blocking is horribly inefficient and the equivalent of burying our heads in the sand.
As tools proliferate, they become more and more difficult to block School IT departments get enough of these types of requests already, and in most cases, blocking one site only leads to students finding ten more that offer them the same access.
It’s not that I don’t think we need to have good conversations about the responsible usage of tools like ChatGPT. Without rails to guide the path, there is a strong possibility of misuse or poor usage. If there was ever a time when we needed more focus on digital citizenship and media literacy, I can’t think of one.
But we can talk about responsible usage of any tool in the classroom. The concept isn’t new. Before we had Google Docs, kids passed notes in class. The pen was once accused of the oncoming downfall of the education system.
How many times have you had to prevent your classroom from being invaded by ruler helicopters? Abusing tools in the classroom or, perhaps more correctly, using tools to avoid boredom in the classroom is nothing new.
So what do we do with new tools that are certain to disrupt the status quo?
My hope is that more of us have this outlook on new tools available to use in schools:
We should provide opportunities that stimulate their brain and make neural pathways come alive with dancing dreams of great design.
When we don’t embrace new technologies, we deny students options. We prevent them from learning about how their world is changing.
I love me some disruptive technology. There’s no point in beating our chest about how technology x has made y obsolete. The business world can not ignore disruptive technology or they will go out of business. As educators we are in the business of preparing students for THEIR future. The future for students includes AI (Artificial Intelligence).
But not only do we prevent students from experiencing new tools that can be very useful in their lives, but we also overlook what we, as teachers, can use these tools for to make our lives easier.
The emergence of AI education disruptors like ChatGPT reveal the need for more diverse teaching models. The COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst, spurring teachers and administrators into action. We can’t return to “normal school” any more than we can ignore new educational advancements.
We must embrace change. We can’t move forward without it.
How Disruptive Will ChatGPT Be?
I introduced Minecraft: Education Edition to my school district last school year and made the statement in a school board presentation that it was likely the most disruptive tool I’d brought to the district.
But ChatGPT? Oh my. I hope it breaks more barriers and causes more people to rethink daily what they do in classrooms. We already know (or we should know) that students will use AI tools to write papers. I hope educators use it, and many other technologies, to completely redesign education for the future.
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No, it is not converging upon human-like intelligence or for that matter AGI. Still, the broader lesson is you can build a very practical kind of intelligence with fairly simple statistical models and lots of training data. And there is more to come from this direction very soon.
The question remains is this original thought? The probing questions are mine, the responses are from the AI… Did I create something new by asking unique questions?
– Micah Shippee, Ph. D.
There will be more discussions about AI and tools like ChatGPT and how they affect education.
The most important thing we can do as educators is not to ignore these tools. They’re not going away. Students will find ways to use them. Educators should find ways to use them. But if we choose to ignore them and move on as if they will not affect what we do in schools worldwide, we’re failing our students.
Don’t get caught in the aftermath of significant change. We do too much of that in education already.
Reflecting on my first year in the classroom, I was utterly obsessed with impressing everyone. Maybe it was because I came to teaching as a second career. Maybe it was due to my involvement at conferences and summits, even as a brand-new teacher.
Whatever my reasons for wanting to show everyone how good I was, those reasons led me down a path of exhaustion and stress that did nothing for my health and certainly didn’t help me when I wasn’t at school.
So, to help out any new teachers, I thought I’d pass on some advice I wish I’d known when I started teaching. Hopefully, you can avoid the stress, anxiety, and exhaustion I experienced and live a balanced life while still being a fantastic teacher.
You don’t need to be perfect — no one is
Perfectionism is a curse. The voice in your head tells you that you’re not good enough and that you need to try harder and do more. It’s the constant striving for an unattainable goal. And it’s exhausting.
I should know. I’m a perfectionist. I’ve always been a high achiever and always strived to be the best. And it’s taken its toll. I’ve spent hours obsessing over minor details that no one else would even notice. I’ve put immense pressure on myself to succeed, and as a result, I’ve often felt like a failure.
As a teacher, I work with perfectionists all the time — students who are afraid to make mistakes and who are afraid to take risks. And working with them has made me realize that perfectionism is a Learned Behavior — something we can unlearn.
Your students don’t need you to be perfect. They don’t need for your fantastic lesson to always happen exactly the way you envisioned. In fact, you likely already know that the perfect lesson rarely happens. If you’re like me and teach the same topic several times daily, you change something during every class period.
And sometimes, things still don’t work.
Your students need to see that you’re not afraid to fail or to try something new. They need to see you participate in the productive struggle. You don’t have to be perfect.
We can choose to let go of the need to be perfect, and in doing so, we can live happier, healthier lives.
So if you’re a perfectionist, take heart. You’re not alone. And there’s hope for us yet.
It’s okay to ask for help
Asking for help is often seen as a sign of weakness, but it takes a lot of strength to admit that you need assistance. We all need help from time to time, whether we’re struggling with a personal issue or trying to figure out how to use a new piece of technology. Asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s often the smartest thing you can do.
When it comes to asking for help in the classroom, teachers shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to their colleagues. A fresh set of eyes can make all the difference when it comes to spotting problems with a lesson plan or finding new ways to engage students.
And when it comes to assessment, colleagues can provide valuable insights that can help improve the quality of your work. So don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. It’s okay to admit that you’re not perfect — we all are.
Take time for yourself
As teachers, we often put the needs of our students above our own. We teach because we want to make a difference in the lives of others, and that means sometimes sacrificing our own time and energy.
However, it’s important to remember that we can’t pour from an empty cup. To be the best teachers we can be, we must take care of ourselves first. That means taking time for rest, relaxation, and self-care. It might mean saying no to after-school activities or planning days off with family.
Seneca said this about guarding your time:
“No person would give up even an inch of their estate, and the slightest dispute with a neighbor can mean hell to pay; yet we easily let others encroach on our lives — worse, we often pave the way for those who will take it over. No person hands out their money to passers-by, but to how many do each of us hand out our lives! We’re tight-fisted with property and money, yet think too little of wasting time, the one thing about which we should all be the toughest misers.”
The only person who will prioritize your time is you. Don’t let someone else make their time more important than yours.
Whatever form it takes, self-care is essential to being a successful teacher.
So next time you feel run down, remember to take a little time for yourself. Your students will thank you for it!
Don’t compare yourself to others
If you’re like most people, you probably compare yourself to others regularly. Whether you’re comparing your work to a colleague’s or your teaching methods to a master teacher’s, it’s easy to feel like you’re falling short.
There is always someone further along in their career than you, but don’t worry — you’re not supposed to compare yourself to them! That’s because, as anyone with imposter syndrome will tell you, everyone feels like a fraud sometimes.
The only way to become a better teacher is to gain experience and keep learning. So instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your journey and trust that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
Build relationships with your colleagues and students
There’s no denying that relationships are essential. Whether you’re trying to build relationships with your colleagues or students, it’s essential to put in the effort to create connections. After all, relationships are the foundation of any successful teaching experience. Establishing relationships with your students creates a supportive learning environment where everyone can thrive.
Don’t be the teacher who doesn’t smile until Christmas. Get to know your students. Laugh with them (not at them!), talk with them, and learn what they love about the world. It may help you connect with that student who never speaks to anyone.
And by developing relationships with your colleagues, you create a collaborative team that can work together to improve student outcomes. So if you’re looking to build relationships, remember that creating strong bonds takes time and effort. But the effort is well worth it when you see the positive impact that relationships can have on teaching and learning.
An old saying goes, “When in doubt, be yourself.” And while that may not be the most sage advice for every situation, it’s definitely something to keep in mind regarding your career.
After all, being authentic and genuine to yourself is one of the best ways to be successful.
Consider the classroom. As a teacher, you have the unique opportunity to connect with your students personally and help them learn in a relevant way. But to do that, you need to be genuine.
Your students will be able to sense if you’re being fake or if you’re going through the motions. Trust me; they have a BS detector that can spot a fake teacher from a hundred miles away. They’ll know if you’re doing something that is not authentic to who you are.
Don’t be that teacher who tries to do things in class so you can look cool to your students. (As a matter of fact, don’t use the word cool. I’m pretty sure it’s not cool anymore…)
But if you’re authentic, they’ll be more likely to engage with the material and learn from you.
Of course, there are times when it’s essential to put on a professional persona. But in general, it’s best to just be yourself. It might not always be easy, but it’s always worth it.
So there you have it: some advice on not being a perfect teacher and trying to impress everyone from a (spoiler alert) far-from-perfect teacher. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help, take time for yourself, don’t compare yourself to others, build relationships with your colleagues and students, and most importantly — be yourself!
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How much time do we spend on inert learning daily in our classrooms?
I’ve been asking that myself a lot lately as we’ve had more and more discussions in my schools and across the country about deeper learning and what our students are learning in schools. I’m watchful of any inert learning happening in classrooms I visit and in my own practice as I work with teachers.
Before we can determine exactly how much time we spend on inert learning, we must define inert learning.
With inert learning, the student learns and remembers facts or procedures without understanding or being able to use them. So, they can regurgitate the information back to you on a test or quiz, but after the fact, they’ve forgotten it and moved on. We can also think about inert learning as surface-level learning.
There are two types of inert learning- declarative and procedural.
Declarative inert learning is when students learn and remember facts without understanding them. For example, rote memorization of vocabulary words without being able to use them in context wouldn’t be considered deeper learning.
Procedural inert learning is when students learn procedures without understanding why or when to use them. A great example of this is students who can solve a math problem one way, but if you ask them to explain how they did it or why that particular method works, they can’t because they don’t understand the concept, they just know the steps to get the answer.
So, how much time are we spending on inert learning in our classrooms?
The answer may depend on what level you teach. To support younger learners, elementary teachers will spend more time on inert learning to empower their students with the knowledge to make deeper connections. In later grades, teachers can more easily move students to deeper learning opportunities, applying that surface-level knowledge to more practical applications.
This is an important shift. Certainly, before any deeper learning can occur, the facts and information from any surface-level learning must be in place. John Hattie speaks about the transition from surface-level learning to deeper learning in this video and how vital both are to students.
As educators, we can consciously make decisions about the content we’re teaching and the instructional methods we use to ensure that our students engage in deeper learning.
Here are some things to consider as you reflect on your own practice:
Do my students have opportunities to construct meaning or create something new?
Do my students have opportunities to apply their knowledge in authentic ways?
Do my students have opportunities to think deeply about their learning content?
If you can answer yes to these questions, then you’re likely doing more than just teaching inert knowledge. Keep up the good work!
Too often, students are taught inert knowledge- facts and procedures without understanding or being able to use them. This type of learning results in surface-level understanding at best and leads students to forget what they learn shortly after the fact.
On the other hand, deeper learning is when students learn and remember facts with understanding. They can use the information they learned in various contexts and see how it connects to other ideas. Deeper learning also allows for critical thinking and creativity.
It’s important for educators to make a conscious effort to move away from teaching inert knowledge and toward deeper learning. We can do this by providing opportunities for our students to construct meaning, apply their knowledge in authentic ways, and think deeply about their learning content. If we do this, we’ll be setting our students up for success in college and beyond.
Can you remember a time in your own educational past when you learned something new, and then, as soon as you took the test, you forgot what it was you learned?
How often does that happen in your classroom with your students?
I don’t want to ask myself that question because I’m afraid of what the answer might be. You might feel the same way. I know how many times it happened to me during my own time walking through the hallowed halls of public K-12 education.
Those facts you forgot, the ones that had no practical application to anything you were doing at the time? That’s inert learning.
Inert knowledge is “learning that was superficially acquired, never really understood, and promptly forgotten” (McTighe & Silver, Harvey F., 2020). Standardized tests are built on inert knowledge. As a matter of fact, most forms of assessment I can think of are specifically designed to measure inert knowledge.
The problem with inert knowledge is that it’s, well, inert. It doesn’t do anything. It can’t be applied to solve problems or create new understanding. It’s just there, taking up space in our heads until we forget it and move on.
On the other hand, deeper learning is learning that sticks with you, that you can apply in different contexts, and that helps you build new understanding.
It’s the kind of learning that allows you to take what you know and use it to solve problems, think creatively, and communicate effectively. Deeper learning is active; inert learning is passive.
There are a few reasons why inert knowledge assessments still exist. For one, they’re easy to grade and don’t require as much engagement from the student as deeper learning assessments. Additionally, inert knowledge is often seen as a precursor to deeper learning, so educators may use these assessments to identify students who need more support to move on to deeper levels of understanding. Finally, there’s a tendency for people (educators and policymakers included) to value things that can be easily measured, like grades or test scores. And because inert knowledge can be assessed fairly easily and objectively, it has become a staple in our educational system.
Now, let’s go back to the question I opened: How much time do we spend on inert learning daily in our classrooms?
Is there a better use of our time?
If you’re looking for more ways to move away from inert learning and toward deeper learning in your classroom, be sure to sign up for my free newsletter. I’ll update you weekly on the latest deeper learning strategies supported by technology integration. I’ll also include links to helpful resources and provide tips for making the most of your teaching time. Sign up now and start moving your classroom in the right direction!
I’m having a hard time putting into words my feelings over the past couple of days. I work in education but I’m also a parent. I worry about the kids and teachers whom I work with but I also worry about sending my daughter to school.
Note: she just finished 4th grade, which has struck me right in the center of my being after the deaths of many 4th graders in Texas. They were the same age as my own daughter. Frightening, to say the least.
My biggest issue now is responding to those who believe we don’t need to do anything about gun control in the US. I’m tired of their “thoughts and prayers” that don’t do much.
First things first: I appreciate the need for peer review and understand why we have academic journals. I’m not the person you need to convince that any work any scientist or academic publishes needs to be scrutinized with as many eyeballs as possible.
My issues lie in how that work is disseminated to large audiences to be put into action and influence the world.
Thanks to the way most academic publishing works, it’s almost impossible for anyone other than another academic to read your work if it’s published.
It’s hard to overstate what a scam academic and scientific publishing is. It’s run by an oligopoly of wildly profitable companies that coerce academics into working for free for them, and then sell the product of their labors back to the academics’ employers (often public institutions) for eye-popping sums.
As I begin my doctoral studies in the fall of 2022, I hope to have more experience with academic publishing myself. I mean, that’s part of the academic process.
Over the years, my articles, tweets, presentations, podcasts, etc., have been viewed or heard by multiple tens of thousands of people from all over the world. I’ve made that work freely available to others for a long time (thanks, Creative Commons) and seen many take advantage of what I’ve “published” in one form or another.
Sadly, any work I may produce and publish in the academic tradition may never see the light of day.
In K-12 education, we talk a lot about having students create work for an authentic audience; work that will be seen and critiqued by people outside of their school environment.
Shouldn’t we try and do the same with academic publications?
Universal truth: COVID-19 changed education forever. The pandemic affected every area of education. Weaknesses were exposed, kids were left unconnected for months, systems failed, administrators panicked, students felt abandoned, and teachers just had to do more and more every day.
As a result, teachers are leaving. And I mean leaving in a hurry.
For months on end, teachers have been in survival mode, doing their best to meet the same expectations that were in place pre-pandemic and dance the world’s most epic dance from virtual to in-person learning (multiple times for some).
Students still had to take tests and meet all graduation requirements while learning how to talk with each other behind masks and appreciate short outdoor mask breaks a few times per day.
And the teachers had to keep going. They’ve had to deal with administrators who pressured them to try new things (some necessary and some not so much) and adopt more technology in less time than at any other point in educational history.
Three minutes. That’s all the time Lanee Higgins, a Baltimore County Public Schools teacher, had to herself during a typical day of coronavirus-era remote learning. On her computer screen were middle-schoolers, scattered across the county, running through their lessons — while at home, Higgins, age 29, was trying to maintain her authority over her classroom and her life. Sometimes her potty-training toddler, refusing to nap, would wander into the frame when her entrepreneur husband wasn’t there to corral him. When she just couldn’t hold on anymore, Higgins would announce a three-minute break. She’d leave her students staring at the screen while she scurried off to use the bathroom or steal some time to just think.
Teacher shortages were already a reality pre-pandemic but now the shortages are reaching critical numbers. Stress was listed as the primary reason why teachers left the field before the pandemic and the pandemic only made it worse.
And now, as we near the end of the 2021-2022 school year, over half of all teachers are thinking of leaving.
Teachers are tired. They’re tired of changing mandates from state and local officials. They’re tired of dealing with politicians who have little to no respect for the work teachers do every day. They’re tired of misinformed parents who accuse teachers of indoctrinating their students.
Trust me, we’re not indoctrinating any students. If we were, they’d be much better at following directions for turning in their work by now.
We figure out how to support teachers. While a pay increase would be welcome, it’s certainly not all about the money. Even when you understand that from 1999 to 2021, teacher salaries decreased in 27 states, thanks to inflation.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commercially, provided that you attribute it to me, Mike Paul, and include a link to pikemall.tech.
It’s time for educators to make honor a core value in schools. It’s time to build honor into our curriculums and establish it as one of the primary social and emotional learning goals we work to help students achieve.
Full disclosure: I am a reformed honor roll student. I made that list all the freaking time, save for my middle school years.
Why not in middle school? Because I refused to do homework. It was pointless for me. I didn’t need the work and did just fine on any and all exams. But my middle school teachers insisted on grading homework, of which there was more than a metric ton each night.
I had better things to do, like read comics. Or watch Jeopardy. Or Star Trek reruns.
So, like many other students, I missed out on the perks of being on the “honor roll” that many of my friends were enjoying. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I lost some friends because I wasn’t on the honor roll.
Personally, the idea of the honor roll disgusts me. And it’s probably time we get rid of it.
Students don’t make the honor roll for any number of reasons. Whether it’s because they simply don’t care about getting the grades because they realize for most people the grade they got in 10th-grade geometry is no indicator of success in life or because their life away from school isn’t set up to support a great learning environment, many students just don’t care about the honor roll.
Let’s also think about the lengths that some students are willing to go to earn a spot on the honor roll. Yes, some will cheat. I’d venture to say that a student’s desire to cheat is directly proportional to their pressure to get good grades.
And how many students will lose precious sleep to stay up and cram information so they can “brain dump” on a test to get the grade?
Trust me, folks, sleep is way more important than a high GPA.
Perhaps it’s time we either get rid of the honor roll altogether or rethink the purpose it serves. Maybe we should focus on teaching students what honor really is and how to do work that is worthy of honor, not just a grade.
I admit I have taken recess time away from students. OK, maybe not recess time since we didn’t have recess in my middle school but we certainly incentivized certain achievements with a “recess reward”.
Yes, we even used recess as a reward for students who achieve our version of the honor roll.
What a horrible policy. Kids need time to play, at every age level. And using the excuse of placing them in an “activity” class doesn’t cut it.
They need time to decompress and just goof off. I’m 45 and I need time to do that every day.
Recess is an essential part of childhood (and adulthood) and we have to stop taking it away. Some states are moving to create laws to protect that time.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commercially, provided that you attribute it to me, Mike Paul, and include a link to pikemall.tech.
“Today, various pathways exist for future success that value all learning. We need to move beyond a narrow focus on success as only a four-year college degree that ignores entrepreneurial opportunities, career and technical education, and the evolving nature of work… When we expand our vision to encompass all these pathways, we see that social and emotional skills, such as the ability to collaborate effectively and cultivate relationships, are a foundation for future readiness.”
CASEL CEO and President Dr. Aaliyah A. Samuel
Another reminder that a college degree isn’t for every student but those “soft skills” that employers want (as does the rest of society) are important for every student.