Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age – Session IV: Teachers for a Digital Age

>>Welcome back John Merrow, Education Correspondent
at the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.>>MERROW: What an amazing video. What a way
to start off a conversation about teaching and I’m–sort of technology is the enemy of
education even as maybe the friend of learning. But, may I ask you a question based on what,
you know, Sergey’s observation about teaching. Would you raise your hand if you are a former
teacher? Whoa. All right now, would you raise your hand if you are now a classroom teacher?
You may look around, that’s four, that’s astounding. And the world, I mean, the world is full of
former teachers and maybe, you know, Sergey’s point is a valid one, it’s–if it’s not a
profession–it’s a profession that apparently has driven out an awful lot of, an awful lot
of us. I too, I’m a former recovering teacher. The–this is amazing group, I mean I ask him
to come up, I wanted to say a word about each of them and then ask them to come up and we’ll
just go at it. And we also would like to–again, I think the challenges to move the ball forward
based on what we’ve seen, on what we’ve learned. But I’ve got five remarkable people here,
Marshall Smith, his friends call him Mike, but he was my thesis advisor in graduate school,
so I call him Dr. Smith. But he’s a senior counselor at the U.S. Department of Education;
he’s been there and done that in just about everything. It’s too long a list to go through.
He did–he did tell me he has four things he wants to just tell the audience, he told
me that if I did not ask him four questions he would revoke my degree. And so that’s one
thing that will happen today. I will ask Mike four questions. Ellen Moir is the executive
director–come on up, come on up. Esther, I want you down here…
>>WOJCICKI: Down here?>>MERROW: Because you’re wired and they’re
worried about feedback. And the rest of you guys, and I want the end. Come on up, just
come on up, thank you, thank you. Ellen Moir, that’s in the red, the Executive Director
of the New Teacher Center, which is a brand new independent non-profit. She has just left
the security of the university. And she’s been doing pioneering work on using technology
tools like online mentoring to promote the skills of secondary schools science and math
teachers. The goal sort is of to change the role of teacher from stage, on the stage,
to guide on the side. Closest to me is Esther Wojcicki who is a Chair of Creative Commons
and a legendary teacher of Journalism at Palo Alto High School. She is one of my two or
three favorite teachers in 35 years of reporting, and she’s a model in many ways for the future,
I’m really going to lay–put a lot of pressure on you, kid. You know, technology is one of
her tools and the other is group projects. She has kids doing real work, newspapers,
magazines, radio, television, and the only problem is she doesn’t get paid more; she
may work with 400 kids or whatever but doesn’t get paid for doing that. Next to Esther, Elyse
Eidman-Aadahl, it’s really Aadahl but I think of “Hey, doll.” You can’t–you can’t do that
anymore, but—so, I’ll call her Elyse. It was–you see it’s a joke, so you can’t sue
me. She’s the director of National Programs and Site Development and the National Writing
project, and I think actually she’s the optimist in our group. I had a skeptic in my last group
or tried to label him one, I’m labeling her my optimist. The national writing project
has done community building, literacy programs with the aid of technology, a series of letters
to President Obama from kids, network writing programs for teachers, from pre-school to
college level. She is like me, a former high school English teacher but she also talks
journalism. Tony Bryk…>>Hello, there.
>>MERROW: Who is next to Dr. Smith, just finished his first year as president of the
Carnegie Foundation for the advancement of teaching. Until recently a professor, at Stanford
Tony is best known for his work in Chicago with the consortium on Chicago School Research
and the Center for Urban School Improvement at the University of Chicago. I want to be–I
want this to be as open as possible. Let me ask each of you just very, very quickly, and
I’ll cut you off if you’re going too long. What have you learned so far? Let me start
with you, Dr. Smith.>>SMITH: I swear to God, I’ve been on this…
>>MERROW: The technology…>>SMITH: Yeah, well…
>>MERROW: It’s maybe on.>>SMITH: Oh… And it is on. Good. What have
I learned? I’ve been both excited and disappointed by the last 18 hours or 20 hours, or so. I’m
excited by–because there’s a lots of energy and lots of good ideas, and lots of interest
in the issue from a wide variety of different kinds of people. A little bit, a little bit
unhappy about it because it’s not addressing the–the issues haven’t gotten down to teaching
and learning, the issues haven’t gotten down to how do you go to scale. The issues haven’t
gotten down to thinking about what kids actually need a lot, and just to start, I’ve got four
challenges, and I’m going to give you one very quick one…
>>MERROW: What is one of your challenges?>>SMITH: Yeah, the first… Thank you, thank
you for asking. The–I, it’s actually have been mentioned a number of times and touched
on by the entire panel, and the challenge is that–when an awful lot of low-income children
come to school, they come with about one-third of a working vocabulary of middle-income children,
think about that. One-third of working vocabulary, that is when they’re talking, they only use
those–that one-third of words compared to all of the words that are used by middle-income
kids. They’re not going to catch up unless they get very, very special attention, they’re
not going to catch up at home because they’re not getting the kinds of things at home, on
the streets, and they’re not getting it in the classroom if they get even the same kind
of attention. So…>>MERROW: And technology can help?
>>SMITH: And technology can help, and it have—but it has to help in a systematic
way. We have to think about a strategy. You might challenge, to all of you thinking about
issues like this, the innovators, the people in the schools are to make a real revolution,
to really focus on that issue. Without it, we’re never going to–we’re never close the
gaps.>>MERROW: The question I ask, of course,
was what does he learn?>>SMITH: I did learn that.
>>MERROW: You learned to be disappointed; you learn that people were…
>>SMITH: Exactly. I think we’re not, I don’t think we’re focusing on the problems that
exist and I don’t think we’re proposing solutions to them. I think, we instead tend too much
to start with the technology, and then see if it can work, I think that’s for the schools.
I think that’s one way of going, but you’ve got to go the other way as well, you got to
pick the problem and then go after it as vigorously as you possibly can.
>>MERROW: But pick a problem you can…>>SMITH: Using the technology…
>>MERROW: Okay. Elyse, what have you learned?>>EIDMAN-AADAHL: I think that–I think that
in addition to being, to learning again that there are reasons to be optimistic, so I’ll
take on your label. Because so many good people are trying to crack a similar nut, I think
I’ve learned that the dangers ahead are not much different than the dangers ahead in many
other areas of school reform. I think that…>>MERROW: You don’t think technology creates
a paradigm shift to see of change?>>EIDMAN-AADAHL: Oh, I think–I think technology
creates a paradigm shift and see change for learning. I don’t necessarily believe that
it has or will unless we think about a number of issues; create a paradigm shift for schooling
and for school reform. And I think one of the challenges that we have that, that perhaps
other people on this panel might speak to, there’s a–there’s a difference between the
people who work on the system and the people who work in the system. And when we identify
systemic problems, it seems logical to pursue systemic solutions. Our systemic solutions
often create bigger and worse problems, including the problem of dampening innovation and growth
at the local level. And we’ve spent several decades, actually hardening the system that
is part of keeping, in fact, innovations and learning from sprouting both in school and…
>>MERROW: But you knew that coming in, what have you learned?
>>EIDMAN-AADAHL: I’ve, so what I have learned is, that we’re not careful enough, even in
this community to distinguish what we mean by technology, what we mean by learning, and
how we pursue reform. We’re talking, I believe as if we have a common vision, and I think
that actually if we would implement it, we would take some very different paths, and
they maybe at cross purposes.>>MERROW: Well Mike is saying do one big,
well, small thing but do it big and do it well. You’re…
>>EIDMAN-AADAHL: I think that doing of it well is an important question. What does it
actually mean to do an innovation well? How does the doing and implementing of a practice
of a new area practice, or a type of reform actually help build a learning system that
can grow and can adapt as opposed to reproducing a harder box that stops the next way of the
reform. So doing well is to me an unanswered question so far.
>>MERROW: Ellen, what have you learned? You can bounce off with these guys if they’ve
said it first…>>MOIR: Yeah. I guess I, I think they both
are saying some important pieces. So, I’ve been struck as I’ve sat here today, I’ve been
very inspired and excited. And then I’ve been really depressed and I’ve keep kind of like
what is my problem? My problem is, is that every new teacher that I see working in America,
and I’m just about say everyone wants to be brilliant and wants to be innovative, and
wants to do the kinds of things that we’re talking about doing, and most of them are
given the sink or swim methodology to get in and you saw all–how many of us are no
longer teaching. We have a major, major gap in making sure that the most disadvantaged
kids get the best education. And I am struck seating here by this huge dichotomy between
innovation and inspiration, and the reality on the other side that our kids in East Palo
Alto and in other tough urban communities in America are given scripted, dry, deadly
education. And that those teachers would like nothing more than to be innovated. So I think
we have to really…>>MERROW: To you again, you knew that coming
in though; you knew they are barriers…>>MOIR: I knew that but I was, I’ve been…
>>MERROW: Has anything happened here that makes you hopeful or more…?
>>MOIR: No, I think–I’m not necessarily hopeful, I’m just struck by how exhilarating
and exciting it is to see this pedagogy that we’re talking about compared to the backdrop
of what’s happening.>>MERROW: So what you’re saying is this is
really just pie in the sky? I mean this is just talk? Well no…
>>MOIR: A lot of good, a lot of good ideas…>>MERROW: Right.
>>MOIR: And I’ll hold back my judgment if it’s just talk when I see what kind of actually
implementation and skill we can get from these really great ideas that we’ve been talking
about.>>MERROW: Tony?
>>BRYK: Oh, thanks. On the way you’re pushing, John. I think the energy, commitment, kind
of creative of spirit in this room is really quite extraordinary. The fact that this event
is happening in this Valley I think is very important. The possibility, if we were really
going to figure out how to do this union between the creative capacity that’s being unleashed
through technology and the real hard problems of transform and schooling, if that solution
is going to get enjoined it’s going to happen because the people in this room actually has
decided to take on the problems of actually figuring out what the core problems are for
improving schools and then asking the question where and how this technology could actually
add value to solving these problems. When you say that it sounds like a really obvious
idea, yet when you look at the history of prior efforts to bring technology to bear
on schooling, it’s not that an observation that has driven most of this work. It’s been
basically of the form, well, we’ve got this really wonderful idea, new tool, new capacity.
And if you just use it, schools would be so much better places. And the question of the
actual social practices of use which I’ve heard some people begin to talk about in this
conference, that’s the problem we have to solve.
>>MERROW: Well, Elyse has identified the major problem of the significant work ahead
for educators on basic training related to hardware and software, but rather in providing
deep and sustained professional development that will allow millions of educators to re-envision
teaching for the 21st century. That’s for you. Well, Ellen, had said that teachers there
are ready, they are eager, they are full of hope, so there’s clearly–there’s a disconnect
there. Given the training, there’s something that’s get in the way that apparently has
gotten in the way of all the previous technologies. I want to just try to summarize what I’m hearing
to lead up to Esther. She’s going to tell us what she’s learned. And you had a hand
in putting this together.>>WOJCICKI: Yes.
>>MERROW: So you better have learned a lot.>>WOJCICKI: Well, I learned–yes, I did learn
a lot. And I’ve been really inspired and excited by the previous panels and all the speakers.
It’s just been incredible.>>MERROW: Be specific, please.
>>WOJCICKI: Be specific. Well, let me tell you. One thing that I’ve learned is that you
can really make a huge difference with technology. You know, before I thought so, well, perhaps
it was just in my classroom and perhaps just at Palo Alto High School, and perhaps it was
because of some of the programs that, you know, I personally have been involved in.
But when I see what Jason did in PS–was it 339? I mean, that is amazing. And then, when
I see what has happened with the Harlem Children’s Zone, I mean it’s amazing. We know what to
do.>>MERROW: And so, it’s a question of will?
>>WOJCICKI: Pardon?>>MERROW: Is it a question of will?
>>WOJCICKI: No. You know what it is? I can see it some of the other schools that I’m
trying to help. So I’m trying to help other schools adopt this journalism programs that
I’ve been very successful with. And it’s really a fear of change on the part of a lot of administrators.
They don’t somehow see the power of–they don’t see what we just saw here. They don’t
see the power of technology to really help the teachers. They just see it as almost like
a separate subject, you know. So now, we’re going to be studying that and now we’re studying,
you know, science, and then, we’re going to study technology. So, you know, it sounds
like it’s kind of crazy, but that’s what’s going on not only that. So I see the administration
as a barrier. The administration–we need to educate principals. We need to educate
superintendents. We need them to see the power of technology. We need to see them or have
them see Jason’s school. That…>>MERROW: Earlier, Jim Steir (ph) talked
about this.>>WOJCICKI: Oh, by the way, we need them
to do it now, speaking of Jim Steir (ph). Now. Urgent. Because we have, as they said
last night, every 26 seconds we have another dropout. And there’s a correlation between
a number of dropouts and our prison rates. So we pay for it and the people that are in
prison they also pay for it. They’re living really miserable lives, and so we really need
to do something now. Even though I agree with Reed that, you know, it’s a marathon, it’s
not just a sprint, but we really need to work on it right now. We can’t wait around for
another five years to study some more issues.>>MERROW: Let me be a skeptic here. You’re
talking about we need to do things now, well, the kids are doing it now, right.
>>WOJCICKI: Somewhere.>>MERROW: Well, many, many kids are. When
they’re in school, it’s likely that kind of technology is done to them, even in well-off
schools, but especially in poor schools. When on their own, they’re linking up with the
kid in Bombay, so they don’t respect the walls of their classroom, or their building, or
the borders of their country, but the teachers do. Teachers don’t even migrate to the next
classroom. That’s not a policy issue. I mean, can’t teachers do it?
>>WOJCICKI: No, it’s a policy issue. Let me just tell you. Across the country, most
kids are in airplane mode. They come to school, strap yourself in, turn off all your electronic
devises and face forward. That’s it, okay. Yeah. It’s ridiculous.
>>MERROW: And no smoking.>>WOJCICKI: So if you came to see my classes,
you would see–you would see my students don’t do any of those things. I mean, they work
in groups. They work in teams.>>MERROW: But see, a teacher–as a teacher
you don’t respect that. You don’t force them to strap down.
>>WOJCICKI: No, but most administrators think that’s a good idea. That’s the way–you saw
the pictures over here and you saw what a classroom is supposed to look like. They’re
all supposed to sit there, face the teacher, the sage on the stage, and then follow instructions
from the sage on the stage. In my class of 60, I follow their instructions. You can imagine
what kind of chaos there is but it works.>>MERROW: Yes, Elyse?
>>EIDMAN-AADAHL: So, for many years now, to speak from the perspective of the National
Reading Project, one of the things that that we work very hard to do is to surface important
innovations and knowledge making among teachers. So those practices become visible and can
be ported from one teacher to another. I would say in the early days–we were founded in
1974. In the early days, we would see innovations in teaching and learning practices that would
spread through this network so that one of us would go from–I was in Baltimore, Maryland;
I would show up in Chicago; I would show up in Arizona for a meeting; and I could see
teacher practices that were very important ones built on and with students having spread
through that network and taking route in a number of places. Now I would say that I saw
that happening pretty rapidly in a way that suggested the incredible opportunity that
we are wasting by not leveraging and treating our very best educators, be they teachers
in schools or out-of-school settings. I would say as well as engines of innovations in the
practices that leverage, whatever the learning opportunities are, and they’re different today
than ’74. Now that is being made, that knowledge is being made and practiced and can be shared.
>>MERROW: Why was it happening? Were there incentives? Oh, go ahead.
>>EIDMAN-AADAHL: So let me say, that was ’74 through the 80s. I would say that in the
last 10 years, 15 years, it has been actually harder to do that. And I think that the reason
it’s been harder to do that is something that we have to look at, because teachers are not
actually less innovative. I don’t think–I don’t think they’re less committed to kids,
and it’s certainly the case a teacher in a room with stultifying education is as miserable
as those students are. Nobody wants to have a room that is dead and devoid of life. People
want joy. They want to actually be able to pursue important learning.
>>MERROW: So are there…?>>EIDMAN-AADAHL: That desires their…
>>MERROW: Are there just not enough incentives for teachers to go do that kind of stuff?
>>EIDMAN-AADAHL: So I’ll say the incentives, and we’ve heard a lot about incentives about
carrot and sticks. And certainly, I would not want to say that there’s a teachers anywhere
who shouldn’t make more money, shouldn’t make more money per performance, but I don’t think
that’s actually the incentive. I don’t think teachers are going to work harder to work
with their kids to make learning happen simply based on earning more money. Their commitment
to their subject area, to their content, to doing important work, to being part of a that
includes their students to do something significant, I’ll tell—that went off of the panel here.
There’s a story that I want to tell that started in my mind last night. We saw that amazing
film, and I was one of the people, probably a lot of you, that didn’t have a dry eye as
you’re watching the lottery go, right? And of course, I found myself hoping this kid,
that was going to be the center of this film, was going to get in the CED Academy, and I
think the CED Academy is great. And it was purchased at the cost. That emotional moment
for me was purchased at the cost of dramatizing Susa (ph) as a wasteland. Now I would say
one of the most amazing teachers I know is a middle-school teacher at Susa. And what
this teacher did, just to give one example, and she happened to be a technology teacher.
One of the things that she did at one point with a group of students as they were going
to destroy the building–Susa (ph) is a building–she worked with them over a semester to research
the role that Susa (ph) played in the Brown v. Board of Education suit. It was a huge
part of that. They researched it, they’ve built Websites. They petitioned to get it
on the historic records so that it would be preserved. They worked with architects to
imagine what they could do if they could redo their wing. They pursued grant money to get
Internet access, better Broadbands so they could do this work. Amazing stuff. It won
awards, and it happened in Susa. Now she’s not in Susa anymore. Part of the reason that
she’s not there is that the structures of school improvement did not reward her administrators
for allowing the risk. It rewarded them instead for enforcing for all the teachers that they
do test prep related directly. And as somebody said before, you turn off the machines to
do test prep. Our tests are not good enough to teach to. And as long as those were the
things that the rewards and the incentives are built on, as long as we substitute this
kind of performance on tests that actually do not capture important work and reward that.
We drive teachers like this one out of the building.
>>MERROW: So that would suggest to me that we actually have the wrong people in this
audience. We should have principals and school superintendent who should be seeing what this
stuff does. Mike, let me call on you.>>SMITH: All right. I wanted a second term.
I want to disagree a little bit. I mean, and I don’t think we can have a nation of three
million extraordinary teachers. I think we can maybe have 100,000, 150,000. That’s like
any Bell Curve in any profession; you’re going to have wonderful ones. You’re going to have
a lot of folks in the middle, and you’re going to have some people who aren’t cutting, cutting
it well. I think you have to approach the problems in a different way. It’s just why
I focused on that vocabulary, we’ve known about this problem for years. We’re not focusing
on–we’ve got to start focusing on or these kids will fail. We focus on another problem.
>>MERROW: But the answer in that vocabulary is not just getting a whole lot of terrific
vocabulary teachers. You’re saying technology–>>SMITH: Right. You use technology and all
sorts at home at school but you do it in somewhat coordinated way. So that the people who are—and
there are half a dozen people in this room, at least, who were working on issues around
vocabulary and comprehension, and so on. Are they talking together? Are those–is the innovation–does
it add up to something greater than the sum of the parts. And that’s the problem we’ve
got or that’s one of the major problems we’ve got. May I add one and take another one. We
talk about how we need to address this issue of Math and Science teachers. I mean, I must’ve
heard it a thousand times. We have mechanisms now. We have courseware, not–I don’t mean,
MIT is cooping courseware but–although, that’s one example but we have courses that are actually
knock your socks off courses. That many of them are open, so they’re on the Internet.
Kids are taking them all the time right now. There was a comment about in half the time
twice the gains or whatever. We did a study in Carnegie Milan, a freshman, so it’s close
to high schools and statistics. And basically, a random assignment of kids to the class,
half the class was taking technology only, and half the class was taking the lecture.
But the group that took the technology only, only had half the time. Right? They had to
do it in half the semester. They came out better. They did just as well on future courses.
I mean there is no reason that we have to stick–I mean, with this it says a whole bunch
of different things. It says one thing that technology can really do quite extraordinary
things. And incidentally, the person teaching the class was the same person who designed
the course, the same subject matter to a person who designed the course. So, this wasn’t putting
up somebody who was in the first grade teacher and statistician against the computer. We
have a recent study out of–it’s called the Metanalysis. They looked at a thousand studies.
They came up with 50 that they liked. And they compared taking technology only, and
taking technology, plus, the teacher helping against the teacher only, and the order came
out, technology plus the teacher helping, technology, and then the teacher only, everything
is statistically significant. We have courses now that these same courses could teach the
teachers, and as well as the kids in areas like AP and others. The curve is, you know,
Clayton Christiansen talks about this curve of innovation, and the curve of innovation
about the addition of numbers of courses. They’re going to be taught online to high
school students, he thinks we’re just entering that, kind of, an angle of inflection in this
curve of innovation. It’s a logarithm and it curves, so it’s just going to climb right
up, if it really works.>>MERROW: It’s a very different role of teacher
then. It’s not sage or guide, it really is–.>>SMITH: Well, there’s a guide part, there’s
a coach part. It’s very much like being the coach.
>>MERROW: Now, when you struck, any of you struck last night when the–the panel last
night Rom talked about getting the videos of the very best calculus teachers, and having
those to be available in high school. And so that students and teachers could learn
from. And Joel Klein went by saying what we need to do is pay STAM teachers, twice as
much money. I mean, as if they were not in part of the same conversation.
>>BRYK: The issue about paying people more, it’s–there’s a question of fairness to teachers,
putting that question aside. That role of fiscal incentives would start with analysis–the
problem of choosing people who are working hard enough, and therefore, the fiscal incentives
that will get them to work harder around and, what you think about the right things. In
my own experiences, 30 years working in Chicago and some very disadvantaged context that most
those people are working hard everyday. There are some, there are some who don’t belong
in classrooms. And the fact that we allow them to stay in classrooms is a great civic
affront that simply has to be solved. But that’s only a small part of the problem. Most
of those people are working hard everyday and they just don’t know how to be more productive
at what they’re doing. This is not–and so, showing them a video, it’s like, I could show
you a video of Tiger Woods hitting the golf ball. And then I’ll say to you, “Go out now,
and hit it 350 yards.” Do you think you can do that? It would be the same thing of showing
someone the video of just a superbly executed calculus lessons–or even that matter, a video
of what Esther does, there’s the question of the knowledge of–and then there’s the
question of how we build robust systems so that many people could know how to do this.
This is the essential part. This is also a part where technology could actually considerably
help us.>>MERROW: I would just say that the challenge
would be to change the thinking. I mean I heard Secretary Duncan, and last night Undersecretary
Kanter talked about needing to replace 1.2 million teachers. Why? Why do we need 1.2?
Why–maybe we only need 800,000. I mean, my wife was a school principal who says, you
know, you can pay good teachers a lot or you can pay a lot of teachers. And that maybe
an interesting way to think about because as Sergey said there could be a case where
one teacher could be teaching 400,000 or whatever some number. But you would have to change
the way you think about it. If you just automatically think, well, we got a pipeline, let’s keep
the same number coming through, which is even better, bells and whistles, nothing will change.
>>MOIR: Yeah. I just wanted to also add into this piece on preparing the next generation
of Math and Science teachers but preparing teachers in general for a second as I’ve been
listening over the last 24 hours. I’ve been thinking a lot about the comments, or may
just turned around getting rid of teacher education or the problems of the teacher education
not being very–having an impact. And I keep asking myself, what is it that teachers need
to know or be able to do, and how do we organize their learning to get the, kind of, outcomes
and engagements that we’re talking about that we want for our students. And I think that,
we’re also–we’re training teachers in ways that are clearly not getting us the kind of
results. So, when we just look at the innovations that we’ve shared today, new teachers don’t
need a course and a teacher education program on technology. If they’re going to be taking
courses in universities, they need every course that they’re learning to be engaging in the
kind of inquiry or in using technology as a day in and day out habit of mind. And so,
I want to talk about this for one more second because I think, getting the habits of using
technology now–I’m of the generation that could be saying, well, you know, it’s not
for me, I’m not ready. But I’ve had to teach myself how to use my iPhone, how to use the,
kind of, technology, how to get on these Google docs, how to be with it in an age when you
have to be using technology and I–>>MERROW: And at the New Teacher Center,
do you find all those people coming in and you’re starting from square one?
>>MOIR: No, well, I find that new teachers coming in use technology but they don’t know
how to use technology to teach kids. They don’t know how to embed technology in their
lessons. They know how to use it on Facebook and all the different things that they do.
But we’ve never really taught teachers how to embed technology into the day to day lessons,
so that’s the missing piece.>>WOJCICKI: So, let me tell you why. It’s
because when they go to the schools of Ed, they teach the old way. They don’t model the
way that we should be teaching in the classroom. So then, they expect those teachers who have
been taught by the stage on the stage to go in to the classroom and then integrate technology.
When they haven’t had any experience themselves, in that’s school of–
>>MERROW: Well, let me lecture you on how to use technology.
>>WOJCICKI: We don’t–teachers don’t need lectures, they need to–you learn by doing.
So, they should be doing that in the schools of Ed and the classes are not organized that
way. I mean, there are some schools of Ed that are doing it. I don’t want to say everybody
isn’t but, I see teachers coming in and exactly what Ellen said, brand new, wonderful teachers
who have zero idea how to integrate technology into the classroom. And, so, it’s not an age
factor, and they all know how to use Facebook or MySpace or all those things but they can’t
use it in the classroom. And I have done teacher training at Pali [ph] on how to use Google
Docs in the classroom. I use it on my programs. And, I have to repeat over and over again
because they haven’t used that kind of stuff. They use themselves for their own email or
whatever they use something else.>>MERROW: But what did you find? Do you find
that they want to?>>WOJCICKI: They all want to do it but they
have no experience. I don’t know how many of you have used Google Docs but, I’ve done
a lot of teacher training, and the most effective way to do the teacher training is to sit everybody
together and actually have them do it. So, they all exchanged–they all practiced exactly
what the students should be doing. And at the end of two hours, then they can do it.
But, if–>>MERROW: Do they do it then in their own
time?>>WOJCICKI: They do it. They do it. I have–but,
you know, rationally, they have me doing like a little staff development, you know, before
school for 10 minutes just like, “Oh, could you please show all the teachers how to do
this?” Well, it’s, kind of, showing them how to ice skate and then, okay, could you all
go out and ice skate. It doesn’t work. So, you–they actually have to do it.
>>MERROW: So, it’s real work.>>WOJCICKI: Well, yeah–but this–all the
schools who have edge should incorporate this; they should model what they think teachers
should be doing in the classroom.>>MERROW: I want to go to Tony, then to Elyse,
yeah.>>BRYK: And then thinking about how to actually
make this happen in the classroom. Classrooms are extremely complicated environment just,
just the classroom teacher, 20 to 30 children, you’re responsible for 30 lives. You’re responsible
for moving an increasingly, externally articulated goals agenda that you got to accomplish, and
you got a very finite amount of time in which to make this happen. This is a highly constrained
environment where lots of things have happened simultaneously. In principle, the technology
can really change the way we do that work. But it is also a fundamental transformation
in the way the work gets carried out. And really to exploit this possibility of something
other than the eighth grade structure of classrooms. You know, I want to point to the work that
Joel Rose is doing the Joe Klein mentioned. They’re working on sixth grade mathematics
and trying to break down the box. And that is really hard, sustained, designed engineering
development work to try to figure out a very different way for instruction to occur, much
more individual work that students are doing, really, using teachers’ time and for only
the parts of the teachers can do. But that’s not easy for any one individual to figure
out on their own.>>MERROW: And do you have confidence that
say, Joel and his colleagues figured it out that the world would be the path to his door,
and start doing it?>>BRYK: If I keep talking about his work
and audiences just like, I sure hope so.>>MERROW: No, I’m for real, if the incentive
is strong enough for enough sixth–for sixth grades, everywhere to start doing it?
>>BRYK: I think the K-12 environment has changed. And I think actually in this regard
No Child Left Behind is actually have been a constructive force. As I’ve been with the
(indistinct) Suburban Superintendents Program, let me finish first, for eight years…
>>MERROW: Before you start booing, let him finish it.
>>BRYK: But the conversations in those meetings have changed. Those superintendents are really
talking about how to make their systems work differently and they are really working and
learning from each other. And when they hear about an initiative like that, I can tell
you they’re going to sense, when they go back that next Monday, they’re going to send somebody
out to New York to figure out what’s Joel Klein doing on X. That wasn’t the nature of
the conversations going on in those meetings when they started a year ago.
>>MERROW: So it’s at the superintendent level because Elyse was talking about how teachers
did it. Did you want to comment? But if you do or I’ll send it to Mike.
>>EIDMAN-AADAHL: Yeah, yeah. I think that, I think what was said here about teacher prep
also relates to end service. And I think that we’ve done, we’ve gotten a lot of mileage
out of the digital need, of digital divide concept. It’s taught us something. But I think
it has also potentially left us with a few erroneous ideas. And one is that if you’re
a digital native, it’s already there for you and you’re pointing out, everyone has been
putting out that actually, there are many things to learn. It’s not automatic that engagement
with digital tools means you use them in powerful and productive learning ways. And I think
that the digital immigrant site suggests to us that there’s something about especially
older teachers that make them strangely resistant to change or unable to fathom how to create
learning environments in which we could embed technology and new digital tools. And actually,
I think people are on all sides of that issue when we put learning at the center, so, one
of the things that we can do for new teachers and also in professional development is let
them actually experience the use of digital tools for their own learning, that’s different
than training. It’s about identifying questions of practice that you want to pursue together.
It’s about learning how to create your personal learning networks. It’s about your self going
through and learning what these tools can do for you in your own production. And from
that what do you theorize about a learning environment that makes anybody productive.
And then that tells you something about your classroom. But we instrumentalize teachers
and we only see them as part of the equation that has to deliver some, something. We don’t
actually give them that learning space. And then we expect them to think in rapidly changing
ways as new tools and environments get created everyday about how to use them for learning.
>>MERROW: That’s pretty scary.>>EIDMAN-AADAHL: Let them use it for learning
themselves and then actually I have seen at all ages and across the country teachers deeply
invested in building this workout because they see its power for learning.
>>MERROW: Mike, I’d like to call on Dr. Smith for the third time.
>>SMITH: All right. The–recently I visited Singapore and Hong Kong and a variety of other
places and…>>MERROW: And you’re off to China on Monday.
>>SMITH: Yeah. And one thing you see when you talk to the people on those schools is
that they execute well. And they execute in the context of a learning environment. They
test things out. A teacher has a great idea. She or he tries it out. It works or it doesn’t
work or she corrects it, maybe it works, maybe she tries two or three times, it begins to
work. If it works, they have a conversation, and it’s tried by a few other teachers, it’s
tried by a couple of other schools. If it continues to work well, they begin to move
it out.>>MERROW: And do teachers get to watch each
other teach.>>SMITH: And the teachers get to watch each
other teach often, right, as often as they can make it. So, I want to tie this conversation
back just a little bit to a possible policy that is coming on us and that possible policy
is common standards. I would like to mention this a little bit, she didn’t really talk
about common standards. By common standards, I mean standard that would be adopted by all
of the states or almost all of the states so that you would have from state, to state,
to state, to state the same sets of standards. This would make it possible really to create
assessment instruments because they could, states could work together, you could have
much more interesting assessment instruments, you got a much more interesting curriculum
because it would be enough work, the standards would be predictable, state to state. It improves
the market for innovation dramatically because now you don’t have to sell one part product
or one part of the product to California, another in Nevada, and another in Washington…
>>MERROW: And you don’t have to specify the process. You just say, here’s where we going
to get to.>>SMITH: Exactly. And if it’s working in
California, it’s got a much better chance if it’s working in some other place if it’s
the same set of standard, the same curriculum roughly and so on. Now, this has all sorts
of potential downsides and you know, if you put all your eggs in one basket, and that
basket has a hole in the bottom, you’ve lost all your eggs. In this case, I think what
you’d probably end up doing, or probably end up doing in the short run is to have a number
of different sets of common standards. From each set of common standards there maybe multiple
concepts of curriculum and multiple assessments. But not so many as you have now, not 50 different
sets of standard assessments in curriculum.>>MERROW: Do you imagine that…
>>SMITH: This is a very different phenomenon and it will help this kind of discussion.
>>MERROW: If you have the standards that would free up teachers from those boxes of
rigidity and so on and so forth unless we don’t care of how you get there within…
>>SMITH: Right. You know, there’s a literature on the creativity and if you, if you bound
it, if you bound the problem, if you ask me how I’m going to get up, you know, that desk
back there without touching the floor, I can begin to solve that, I’ve got a way to solve
it. You just ask me to be creative, you know, I’d sit here…
>>MERROW: Right, be creative.>>SMITH: Right.
>>MERROW: Okay. I want to open this up. If you got questions, raise your hand and we’ll
get you a mic. Esther.>>WOJCICKI: I just want a little skepticism
here on the…>>MERROW: About standards.
>>WOJCICKI: Yeah. So, because they might be…
>>MERROW: We were going to ask you to write them but, you know?
>>WOJCICKI: They might be developing assessments that go along with the standard and then the
teachers would then be testing or be teaching to the new standards and the assessments that
go along with those standards. And I would hope it wouldn’t be like the No Child Left
Behind consequences, you know, the un-intended side effect of No Child Left Behind.
>>MERROW: Is you concern that the standards would be too low?
>>WOJCICKI: No, it’s just that if they are required and then they have a testing assessment
that’s right next to it then teachers teach to that. And then if the school doesn’t reach
those standards than they tend to get rid of their elective courses so that they can
teach directly to the standard which is…>>MERROW: The lesson of No Child Left Behind.
>>WOJCICKI: Yeah. So, I’m just—I’d be a little concerned about that effect.
>>MERROW: Mike, Mike, you want to, before I—I’ll just take a question.
>>SMITH: Oh, I think it’s a very legitimate concern and everybody in this room ought to
fight against that kind of solution or that approach to the problem. There are other approaches
that are used by other countries where there’s a lot of innovation going on among all of
that and very high performance. So, you know, there are models that we could, we could emulate.
If you go to Long Beach, California, you can see a really good interesting model about
a district that does terrific, genius and brilliant.
>>MERROW: Let’s take a question. Would you identify yourself, please?
>>WALSH: Chris Walsh from the New Tech Network. This is a good conversation and I think one
of the more focused ones on some of the core issues that we’ve been trying to deal with.
I wonder if a lot of the things that we’re talking about here fall under the category
of over engineering. We’ve over engineered our educational system and not really ask
why. I’ve had the privilege of being in Esther’s class and when I go in there it’s simple.
It’s very simple what Esther is doing. She’ll be the first person to admit it. And the simplicity
is its brilliance. How kids learn? We know how that happens and Esther is facilitating
that. And so I wonder, number one; are we over complicating this and then number two,
I wonder if underlying all these over complication is something more fundamental. I wonder if
as a country we’ve lost our desire, we’ve lost our [INDISTINCT]. I don’t think teachers
today are any worse than teachers were 50, or 60, or 70 years ago.
>>MERROW: What is the question?>>WALSH: So my question is when we look at
foreign countries and we look at people who were comparing ourselves to, don’t they have
a greater desire than we do as a society, is it a cultural issue? That’s my question.
>>MERROW: Have we lost our get up and go?>>EIDMAN-AADAHL: I actually think the over
engineering problem is a real problem.>>MERROW: And that’s the prescriptive, the
prescriptive measure.>>WOJCICKI: I agree, it was over engineered.
>>EIDMAN-AADAHL: Yeah. And I think that the over engineering problem is also a legacy
because the fact that we’ve over engineered. In fact establishes a way of doing business
in governance that when you introduce a simple idea, actually, it seems as if it’s impossible
as if it’s bad practices, if we’re not believing in accountability or some other sort of things.
So in a way, the disruptive innovation which is sometimes the very simple way of doing
something that allows a whole set of new concerns.>>MERROW: Well, it has to be down in the
margin, as Christiansen said. So, the margins are wide in education because all they teach
is Math and Reading. You know, I mean that’s what they focus on in so many schools. Quick
response and we’re going to take question from the audience.
>>MOIR: Yeah. I just want to say I agree. I think we have over engineered but I also
think we haven’t focused on the right set of elements that need to be addressed. And
again, I’m going to push us back to saying that every one of us in this room knows the
kind of quality education we want for our own children, nieces or nephews. That is what
we have to hold up as the quality of education for every child in this country. And then
we have to ask ourselves what do those kids need to know and we will be able to do. And
how do you get the teachers that are working with them to be able to deliver.
>>MERROW: Programs for four people, or poor programs. Here’s a question from Oakland.
How will the role of teachers change in this new learning environment? And how can students
be involved in teacher preparations, teacher training curriculum development, so many should
be. That’s actually to—yeah, yeah.>>WOJCICKI: So I think teachers—I see myself
as a facilitator and an enabler. And so my students work with me. I’m not the sage; I
don’t know it at all. As a matter of fact I don’t know half of what they do. And I just
want to—could we just show that ones, couple of slides.
>>MERROW: Yeah. Okay.>>WOJCICKI: This is the example of what my
students do. So, there’s a newspaper, a Website. So this is the latest Website that the kids
just created and they’re doing everything themselves. And this is a consolidation of
all the programs. You can see the names of their camp, in [INDISTINCT] they are biking
and focus [INDISTINCT]. And so, they have 400 kids that are all–in this journalism
program. And it’s not done, they’re working on this Website, you know, and they’ve come
up with their own ideas which in some cases we don’t agree with. So the next slide if
you could just show that. This is the new; this is the newspaper that my students—this
is the class of ’60. And by the way, the school board just approved this new media building
for Palo Alto to Unified; it’s the first in the nation. It’s just going to be media arts
and that includes the 500, 400 to 500 kids that are involved nothing this program. But
they come up with their own story ideas. They come with their own layout, their own design.
They—some of the stuff I like, I would never be interested in. So, I’m not really the teacher
in the sense that I don’t make—I’m kind of like I’m the facilitator; I give ideas.
>>MERROW: Are you the editor as well?>>WOJCICKI: No. Are you kidding? I don’t
care.>>MERROW: What’s your…
>>WOJCICKI: No.>>MERROW: What’s your adult role? Let’s sit
down again. Come back.>>WOJCICKI: What does my adult role?
>>MERROW: Yeah. Yeah.>>WOJCICKI: Well, so…
>>MERROW: I mean, can they put in there whatever they want?
>>WOJCICKI: No, but I—I try, first of all, I teach a short, a beginning course where
I teach Ethics and then after—and I teach, like, what you should be writing about, all
the different writing styles, but then they go—do it by themselves. The main things
I teach, of course, are, you know, making sure there’s no libel, no obscenity, no inciting
to riot, but then they come up with their own ideas.
>>MERROW: Okay, so now you’re doing this in Palo Alto. Could you do this in the East
Palo Alto?>>WOJCICKI: I could do this in East Palo
Alto. I first started teaching in Richmond, California. So, if you know anything about
Richmond, you know that they have a few problems with some of the educational systems there.
But I could…>>MERROW: So your feeling is students should
definitely be involved in the curriculum.>>WOJCICKI: They should…
>>MERROW: But you’re on the margins. You’re just journalism. You’re not really important.
>>WOJCICKI: I know. So I teach ninth grade English. Thank you.
>>MERROW: I’m a journalist, you know.>>WOJCICKI: I teach ninth grade English too,
and so, I’m trying out this program right now where they’re learning the typical ninth
grade English curriculum, but they are also—I’m embedding in that curriculum a Beginning Journalism
program. So, they’re learning how to write for the Web. They’re learning how to access
all the different—or understand all the different types of Websites that are out there.
And so in between my—of Mice and Men essay, we then went and did a restaurant review.
And then after that, we’re doing a movie review and then we’re going to be doing a product
review. That’s why I think they have to pick their own products, so it’s…
>>MERROW: So, it’s…>>WOJCICKI: So basically I’m try—I’m letting
them do what they want to do at the same time and they get all excited.
>>MERROW: Esther, well, you get subversive but do any of you worry about that—remember
the kid who hadn’t read Romeo and Juliet, read it in the 15 minutes. Do any of you worry
about core learning, about integrity? You know, I was an English teacher, I am horrified.
Romeo and Juliet is a pretty cool play. That kid is not going to experience it. Do you—is
that a reason—is that a cause for a concern, Tony?
>>BRYK: As we talk about the new literacies, it’s hard to believe going forward that it’s
still not going to be important to engage complex text through reading, to engage in
the crafting of complex argument through writing…>>MERROW: So you’re putting it back on the
teacher for not having created the situation?>>BRYK: It goes to your ques—it goes to
your question about does it worry me, yes, it worries me because those skills are central
to thinking and there is a real—when and especially when we say that some kids don’t
need to do this…>>MERROW: Yeah.
>>BRYK: That really worries me.>>MERROW: Let’s take your question. Please
identify—I think it’s the fourth gentleman. What does that sign say?
>>Five minutes left.>>MERROW: Five minutes left?
>>Five minutes.>>MERROW: Is that all?
>>Yes.>>MERROW: Okay. Yes, the fourth, yes, you
got it. Quick question.>>No. You have to push the button.
>>[INDISTINCT] incorporation, we’ve been working with the technology for the last—educational
technology for the last 25 years and this is not a new paradigm; it’s one that we visited
before. And obviously from the last two days, we’ve seen some pockets of innovation which
are very, very good, but what—what makes you think and I think it’s important for many
of us to hear who have been in this territory have some doubts but when we reenter this
territory, what makes today or this time different than it has been in the last 25 years?
>>MERROW: Okay.>>What are some of the things that you can
say are going to make a difference now that hasn’t been before?
>>MERROW: Elyse, a quick answer.>>EIDMAN-AADAHL: Yeah. I think this is a
very different moment. It’s one of the reasons I’m so optimistic. I think one is that now
our new digital tools, our new media are at the point where actually they are a product
that can be used by virtually anybody. The barriers to technology use are much lower
and in fact people can now, you know, in a very ubiquitous way; use devices, use tools,
use platforms in their personal life.>>MERROW: Yeah, outside of school.
>>EIDMAN-AADAHL: Everywhere.>>MERROW: Schools have competition not for
an institution but from the kids themselves.>>EIDMAN-AADAHL: And it’s not simply because
of the competition but it’s also because—it’s also because these same tools have caused
our knowledge base in our content areas to be dramatically changed.
>>MERROW: You know, it may be with–people said about textbooks, you know, textbooks
may disappear but text won’t disappear, schools may disappear but learning will continue…
>>EIDMAN-AADAHL: But learning…>>MERROW: Education—are you optimistic
that this it’s different?>>BRYK: Yeah, I think. I think it is different.
The…>>MERROW: What are the criteria that go into
putting technology in schools?>>BRYK: That it’s reliable. That it’s easy
to use; you mentioned that. And that it adds value somehow to the educational system. So,
you add those three things together, I think we’re at the—we got the first two pretty
well nailed. I think we need to get the third or with better which is, you know, one reason
why I was pushing the course word that otherwise wouldn’t be—wouldn’t be available to students
all over the country.>>MERROW: I’m not so optimistic. I don’t
think schools understand how threatened they are. They’re like the dinosaurs. It’s been
mortally wounded in the back. The message hasn’t gone up the neck all the way to the
brain. And, I mean, so that, there’s much more of a serious. Yeah, question in the front.
Yes, please. Identify yourself.>>HOFF: Giselle Hoff. I just wanted to add
to–>>MERROW: I need a question.
>>HOFF: I will give you a question. But the–Clayton Christensen’s idea that it’s not replication,
it’s commoditization. And I want to go back to–and the question is around what Mike was
saying, and what we heard yesterday, and the comments that were made earlier this morning
about urgency. We haven’t got time, okay? I mean, so if we can’t–
>>MERROW: I don’t meant to be rude, but I don’t have time either. But, I need your question.
>>HOFF: So, how do we jump over all of these, and take care of the kids that Mike was talking
about. The ones who need the vocabulary that, you know, brings them up to speed.
>>MERROW: How do we jump over? I have a slogan, if we can land a man on the moon, we can teach
our two-year-olds the word “astronaut.” No? Okay.
>>SMITH: That doesn’t work.>>MERROW: That doesn’t work. All right. I’ll
keep my day job.>>BRYK: John, this does relates to one thing
Geoff Canada said last night. We’ve got all these focused–for a long period of time,
I’m trying to improve the high schools…>>MERROW: Yeah.
>>BRYK: But one of the things he said is that, that’s really important but if you really
want to open the potential of every child, helps them get a good start early on with
a real focus on literacy.>>MERROW: Which was—it goes back to what
Mike said.>>SMITH: Right, exactly. Uri Treisman has
done some studies of kids in taking algebra, and solving algebra problems and finds that
50%, 50% in the algebra problems can be traced back to the language of the areas that get
made, and can be traced back to the language in the algebra problem. Kids can do the algebra.
They can understand the language that set the problem up.
>>MERROW: So, there’s the national urgency. We have time for one more question. Yes sir,
you’ve been patient.>>So it’s actually not a question, it’s a
comment. Okay. And my comment is this. We only have an hour and half or two hours left
on this panel in particular. But at this conference in general and in all conferences I think.
We have a substantial propensity to use words like they, they teachers, they kids, we, so
if the we—when these guys say, “We,” it’s we, all the older white folk that have a lot
of experience and knowledge. And I would just want to encourage us to try to get out of
that language because we have 3 million teachers, not all they do X, not all students do Y.
So I would encourage us to be a lot more specific when we’re talking it helps us.
>>MERROW: Thank you very much. It’s a very thoughtful comment. Mike, I promise to call
on you four times, so how are you? All right, that’s fine, thank you.
>>SMITH: Okay.>>MERROW: You guys have been a terrific audience
and you all have been superb. Thank you, would you, please.

4 thoughts on “Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age – Session IV: Teachers for a Digital Age”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *