Monday, 3 October 2016

How My Teaching Philosophy Has Changed and Why?

Learning Theories 

Learning Theories are one of the main reasons I decided to take classes around educational technology... I was hoping not to have to discuss them. Mostly because I don't like discussing them because they can be long, boring and sometimes hard to synthesize for me. That being said looking at them in how they are used in connection with teaching through an ed-tech lens is a neat approach. Each theory has its purpose within a school setting. I do not think one is more important than the other. When used effectively specific instructional approaches based upon a designated theory can have a greater affect on a child's learning. Here is how I see myself utilizing the theories within my classroom.


Behaviorism is defined in Peggy A. Ertmer and Timothy J. Newby article on Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing Critical Features From an Instructional Design Perspective as "Behaviorism focuses on the importance of the consequences of those performances and contends that responses that are followed by reinforcement are more likely to recur in the future" (p. 48).  Essentially we are looking at the infamous works of Pavlov, Watson and Skinner.

When I reflect on how this theory relates to my teaching career, I see an acceptance of the usefulness of this philosophy; along with a connection in how my hidden curriculum is largely based on the concepts of which consequences occur based on specific actions I want from my students throughout the school day.  When I started teaching I wanted to be the teacher who was child centered, I wanted to let the students decide what the rules should be, let the students choice carry the flow of the class.  Now I have shifted to a more realistic approach to behaviorism in that it is useful mostly in the structure of the day.  The more that my students react in the way I have conditioned them too (in respect to social protocol within the classroom), the more praise, I seem to give them.  Now I see this as a mostly positive aspect within my classroom because the more the students follow the daily routine, the more curriculum content we are able to sift through as a class.


This is where I see cognitivism taking over the bulk of my teaching. Ertmer and Newby describe how "cognitive theories focus on the conceptualization of students’ learning processes and address the issues of how information is received, organized, stored, and retrieved by the mind" (p. 49).  This is where I find myself attempting to increase my students awareness, not only within specific curricular areas, but also in how they are learning.  I feel I do this through attempting to teach process over content.  I want my students to become life long learners, therefore I need to teach how to learn to my students, not specific content.  There also needs to be a balance in learning.  Students are kids and kids need time to explore, experiment, and fail to learn.


Learning through experience is essential the basis of constructivism.  Ertmer and Newby use Bednar et al. when delving deeper into what constructivism is where they describe it as how, "knowledge emerges in contexts within which it is relevant. Therefore, in order to understand the learning which has taken place within an individual, the actual experience must be examined" (Bednar et al.). This is the type of learning that I am most cognizant of from my schooling experience.  I remember the field trips, the experiments, the baking, the opportunities to create within the classroom, even the dreaded science fairs are some of my most memorable moments from my elementary and high school years.  This is why within my own classroom I try to do a variety of experiments and be as interactive as I can.  Now with technology the  way it is, I feel that it is giving us the opportunity to help children create in another unique way.  Kids can now begin to create and develop their own experiences through a variety of technology tools.


When the students are using their own tools to capture their memories, develop their own stories and demonstrate their learning in their own way, is extending of constructivism which takes it again to a different level of connectivism.  George Seimens describes connectivism as "Connectivism is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories. Learning is a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements – not entirely under the control of the individual" in his post Connectivism: A Learning Theory for a Digital Age I see this as the modification to redefinition stages of the SAMR model I spoke about in my earlier post.  I have not achieved this level yet, but I can see it happening within my classroom soon.  I have a variety of ideas that i would like to attempt and ultimately connect with other classrooms in joint learning adventures.