I was at an education technology conference this week where Andreas Schleicher of the OECD keynoted virtually. If you haven’t had a chance to read the OECD’s Schooling Redesigned, Toward Innovative Learning Systems, I highly recommend it. Schleicher spoke about how the demand for non-routine interpersonal and analytic skills has and will continue to increase. The skills learned from routine tasks that have been the foundation for learning in the past are far less needed. Below are a few slides from his talk outlining some of his thinking around this change.
I asked one question grounded in conversations I have had with numerous educators. We know change is needed, however current timetables and school structures allow only token changes. I wanted to know what interesting timetables he had seen in his travels.
Schleicher identified siloed subjects in North America as a barrier to change. He pointed to Shanghai and what they are able to do because of their school structures and timetables. Interestingly in their model, students interact with teachers differently which allows class sizes to be larger. This frees up teacher time for professional learning. In Shanghai teachers work collaboratively to plan lessons. They also watch each other teach and provide feedback. It’s the horizontal leadership – teachers learning from teachers that Campbell and Fullan and speak about. Teachers also post lessons in collaborative digital spaces for feedback. Community knowledge about pedagogy is leveraged to build collective capacity. Participation in the giving and receiving of professional feedback is expected. In research literature about system change, unwillingness to deprivatize practice has been identified as a barrier to change. Perhaps it’s time for teachers to expand how we might work with colleagues to provide formative feedback to one another in order to move the entire system forward. Personally I would love to have more time during the day for planning and collaboration with my colleagues. Perhaps it’s also time for us to think differently about class-size. I would love to see other examples of interesting timetables.