Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Be Intentional About Time and Learning

In today's schools, time is a constant. That is, all students are given the same amount of time (7 hours a day, 180 days a year) to master skills and concepts. However, students are quite different, and they learn in different ways. Since these students, who learn differently, have the same instruction and the same amount of time to master skills and concepts, the result is that learning is a variable. Learning varies by student. Given the same amount of time and instruction, students progress at varying rates. 

Educators must find a way to make time the variable so that learning can become constant for all students. In order for all students to make equitable progress, some students will need more time and instruction while others need less. Ten years ago, in a typical classroom, it would have been extremely difficult to provide this type of learning environment, in which all students progress at their own rates and each student receives the time and instruction he/she needs.

However, with today's technologies, it is not only possible but quite easy to create a learning environment that uses time as a variable in order to make learning a constant for all students. So why aren't more schools doing that?

The answer is that it requires teachers and school and district leaders to rethink teaching and learning. To rethink how we use time. To rethink how and why we use technology. To rethink the role of the teacher and the role of the learner. 

A great example of the use of technology to make time a variable so that learning is a constant can be found at Ranson IB Middle School in Charlotte, NC, where my friend Romain Bertrand serves as a multi-classroom leader. Read here and here about Ranson's use of blended learning models to meet the learning needs of all students. 

Please leave a comment to share your own examples of teachers and schools that are rethinking time and learning.