Wanted: Revolutionaries to Transform the Teaching Profession into the Learning Profession. Apply Within!
Mary-Dean Barringer, CEO, All Kinds of Minds
"The Teachers of 2030," in the May 2010 issue of Educational Leadership, is a thought-provoking article about the future of the teaching profession. Authors Renee Moore and Barnett Berry draw attention to the fact that an important voice is missing from current education policy discussions – particularly those around teacher effectiveness and student learning – the teacher's. They make a compelling case that we must bring the teacher perspective from the margins to center stage, and they provide insight into how practicing educators often have a more inspiring vision for changes that could better support learning than those who are currently dominating the microphone in today's national education discourse.
The article's Teachers of 2030 see what many of the futurists quoted in our book, Schools for All Kinds of Minds, describe. They envision a future where the Internet facilitates more "personalized learning," where accountability systems are tied to individual student growth, where learning comes from both "near and far," and where "teacherpreneurism" facilitates the deployment of educator expertise in new, varied, and creative ways. These ideas echo a similar vision suggested by the KnowledgeWorks Foundation in their 2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning, which contends that these changes are coming and will be here faster than most of us realize.
Underlying all of these futuristic ideas about the teaching profession is that it will – and must – transform into a learning profession. Thus, I challenge the teachers and other educators who have taken part in All Kinds of Minds' work over the past decade to speak up and lend your voices to bringing about this transformation. Why? Because I believe this transformation is what will broadly enable breakthrough knowledge about learning variation to help our most complex learners find success, and at the same time help us re-invent education for the benefit of all.
So how do we begin to create a learning profession? I invite you to spend some time this summer reflecting on this question – and engaging with us and with each other in a conversation about it.
Here are some ideas to get this conversation started:
- Take 15 minutes and watch Sir Ken Robinson's recent TED talk, in which he suggests that we are facing a second climate crisis — one that involves human resources instead of natural resources. He argues that we make poor use of talent and that schools are the biggest contributor to dislocating people from their talents. He notes that as with natural resources, we often have to dig deep to discover individual talent resources. Sir Robinson asks, "Can we start a learning revolution to end the human resource crisis?"
- Stacy Parker-Fisher, program officer at the Oak Foundation, wonders about creating a "learning expert corps" modeled after Teach for America. "What would schools do if they had learning experts come in for a few years as part of their human capital systems? How would they use them?"
- Karen Triplett, an All Kinds of Minds facilitator in North Carolina, dreams of running a summer "Mind Camp" for students. "Imagine: It would be an experience where everyone would discover their learning profiles. They would unearth their talents and strengths, claim their passions and affinities, and learn strategies for dealing with the things they just aren't wired to naturally do well."
- A California charter school featured on John Merrow's Learning Matters launched a brilliant idea for the last six weeks of school following end-of-year testing. Teachers are given the freedom to teach what they love and create "selectives" for students. Student groups put on a theatrical production, take part in a local government initiative, delve into a genre of literature, create instructional media games. Teachers and students alike get to pursue what they love to learn and do, and it's a great way to discover talents and affinities.
What steps can we pledge to take as today's learning revolutionaries? How can we work toward making the understanding of an individual's learning profile the foundation for each student's educational trajectory? In what other ways can we bring a stronger focus on using affinities and passions to guide a student's mastery of key tasks, processes and scholarship?
Raise your voice. Become a revolutionary. Post a comment on our blog or our Facebook page. Create a YouTube presentation and share it with us. React to these ideas and offer up your own. Share what you think we need to do to transform the teaching profession into the learning profession.
For a limited time, we are offering three of our online modules at no cost to you. These interactive modules include rich content designed to help you build or refresh your understanding of three of the most important learning components – language, memory and attention.
Each self-paced module includes information to deepen knowledge of these topics, in-depth case studies that demonstrate how to identify specific learning strengths and weaknesses, and strategies for working with students struggling in these areas. Featuring a mix of audio, video, text, diagrams, and animation, the modules will be accessible from the All Kinds of Minds website through the summer.
"Our vision is for every educator to be able to use this knowledge on behalf of students – particularly those who are struggling to learn," stated Mary-Dean Barringer, CEO of All Kinds of Minds. "We hope that by making some of this knowledge more accessible, a greater number of educators will realize how it can be the key to helping them unlock the promise of students they are struggling to reach. In particular, we're hopeful that teachers working with students in low-performing schools will find these resources valuable – especially since research shows that students from lower socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to be struggling with school and learning tasks related to attention, memory and language."
To learn more or to access one of the modules, click here.
Denise Gonzalez, first grade teacher at Fondren Elementary School, shares an inspiring story about a struggling student who benefitted from her use of the All Kinds of Minds approach. She also discusses how she has applied the approach on a classroom-wide level.
Click here to watch the video.
Send us your inspiring All Kinds of Minds story! Whether it's through video, audio, photos, or a simple e-mail, we'd love to hear how the All Kinds of Minds approach is making a difference for your students. E-mail us at email@example.com.
"I am impressed with the way the authors walk readers through determining a neurodevelopmental profile for a student … Schools for All Kinds of Minds is book that I'd recommend to teachers of homeschoolers and school-building schoolers alike. Don't let the name fool you into thinking this one is only for school-building schoolers. If you have a student who is challenging or acting out that you can't quite figure out, Barringer, Pohlman, and Robinson give readers new ways (neurodevelopmental perspectives) to consider teaching and learning. For parents of students in special education, I suspect this is one parents will like to highlight in yellow and take to IEPs or team meetings about a student's FBA and BIP."
– Posted by "Penny" on Amazon.com
"Educators need to look at how students learn – this book provides a way to look at how students learn and to develop a learning profile for students. Once a teacher understands a learning profile of a student (strengths and struggles), lessons can be developed making sure that the learning needs of the student are met. If the learning needs of a student are met – success and achievement will be assured. The all kinds of minds approach to learning should be adapted in all classrooms."
– Posted by Bill Stone, AKOM Facilitator, on Amazon.com
We'd love to hear what you think about Schools for All Kinds of Minds. The best publicity is word-of-mouth, so once you've read the book, please consider posting a brief review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Borders! Positive reviews go a long way in promoting the book, and all proceeds from the book go toward All Kinds of Minds, so it's just one more way to support our cause!
Four high schools will be taking the next step toward becoming schools for all kinds of minds, thanks to a $165K grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. Through this initiative, All Kinds of Minds will train educators from these schools in our student-centered approach at a reduced cost. We will also create opportunities for member schools to learn with and from one another around integrating the All Kinds of Minds approach throughout the school's culture and practices. In addition, All Kinds of Minds will assist in the development of implementation and evaluation plans for each of these schools.
Participating schools currently include Panorama High School (Colville, WA), Swansea High School (Swansea, SC) and Medina Valley High School (Castroville, TX).
All Kinds of Minds kicked off this initiative the week of May 17th, when the staff of Panorama High participated in a 3-day Teaching All Kinds of Minds course. Every teacher from Panorama, the school's administrator, and representatives from other schools in the district explored the science of learning and the implications for teaching and learning for their students. The group also explored the All Kinds of Minds' philosophy, noting how these beliefs closely align with other programs and practices already in place throughout the school.
All Kinds of Minds is seeking one more high school to participate in this initiative. If you are interested, contact Darla Iuliucci at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
All Kinds of Minds Welcomes Another School of Distinction
"Since 1985, children with reading difficulties, memory deficits, and other learning differences have found success at Greenwood School, where we believe there is no such thing as a child who can’t learn – just children who have different learning styles," explains Head of School Beverly Connell. "Finding and implementing the All Kinds of Minds approach has enhanced our ability to foster that success and give Greenwood School additional tools to tailor its curriculum to the learning differences of its students."
Greenwood School sponsored participation by its entire faculty in an All Kinds of Minds’ Schools Attuned course in 2008 to provide its educators with a common language (for themselves, parents, and students), more specific teaching strategies to use, and tools to plan lessons and design accommodations and assessments.
Greenwood School Admissions Coordinator Jody Sealy notes that the "All Kinds of Minds philosophy recognizes the importance of involving students in improving their own academic success and gives them the opportunity to help develop learning strategies that work best for them."
Teachers at Greenwood School refer to their "placemats" (tables listing the eight neurodevelopmental constructs) to create and modify lesson plans and assessments, and turn to their All Kinds of Minds Management Strategies binders to help them select a variety of instructional approaches to ensure all students reach their greatest potential. Greenwood high school science students now use social cognition and verbal pragmatics to develop presentations geared for adults as well as younger students, and math teachers have found ways to build temporal sequential skills critical to success in math. "Using the All Kinds of Minds approach helps our teachers understand when to accommodate, when to intervene, and when to develop a plan of action," says Ms. Connell.
Our popular column, Teacher2Teacher, has already begun its summer hiatus! Teacher2Teacher will return for our back-to-school issue.
In the meantime, check out some of these summer reading suggestions from our facilitators:
The Power of Our Words: Teacher Language that Helps Children Learn, by Paula Denton, has been instrumental in helping hone my language to be increasingly explicit, reinforcing, reminding or recognizing kids and their learning behaviors. I have often combined the metacognitive/demystification knowledge gleaned from AKOM with the affective approaches that the Responsive Classroom has to offer in my daily practice — in my thinking, my interpretation of observations and in my decision making.
– Joanne Roark, All Kinds of Minds facilitator, Center School, Abington, PA
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, by Katherine Howe, is a wonderfully intriguing combination of historical fiction and modern romance/suspense novel. The heroine, a Harvard graduate student named Connie Goodwin, is doing research for her doctoral dissertation. Her mother asks her to clean out her grandmother's abandoned home near Salem where she discovers the beginning of a personal and historical mystery quest.
– Sally Hunter, All Kinds of Minds facilitator, Austin, Texas
Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell, disproves many of society's (and educators') assumptions about why certain individuals achieve outstanding success. The author uses data to look at these individuals from a new point of view and explores factors most of us never even consider. The chapters comparing the future of those with innate talent with those who practiced a skill faithfully are especially revealing for teachers.
– Sally Hunter, All Kinds of Minds facilitator, Austin, Texas
The Motivation Breakthrough: 6 Secrets to Turning on the Tuned-Out Child, by Richard Lavoie, outlines clear and effective ways to create a classroom that motivates students along with specific suggestions for identifying strategies to motivate even reluctant individuals. Topics include "motivation profiles," rewards that work for different profiles, and the role of parents in student motivation.
– Sally Hunter, All Kinds of Minds facilitator, Austin, Texas
I just finished the book, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne. We do a book study on the Holocaust with 6th graders every year, so this book helped me with further understanding. It was simple to read but with a very powerful message about differing viewpoints.
– Cindy Prior, All Kinds of Minds facilitator, Hill School, Fort Worth, Texas
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