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Teaching: Improving Learning Through Connected Teaching

Goal: Professional educators will be supported individually and in teams by technology that connects them to data, content, resources, expertise, and learning experiences that can empower and inspire them to provide more effective teaching for all learners.

Teaching today is practiced mostly in isolation. Many educators work alone, with little interaction with professional colleagues or experts in the outside world. Professional development typically is provided in short, fragmented, and episodic workshops that offer little opportunity to integrate learning into practice. A classroom educator’s primary job is understood to be covering the assigned content and ensuring that students test well. Many educators do not have the information, the time, or the incentives to continuously improve their professional practice from year to year.

In contrast, effective teaching in the 21st century requires innovation, problem solving, creativity, continuous improvement, research, diagnostic use of data, and flexible and personalized approaches to meeting students’ diverse needs and strengths. As a result, the most effective educators are professionals with complex knowledge, expertise, and competencies, not merely deliverers of content and managers of well-behaved classrooms.

Unfortunately, our education system often fails to give educators the tools to do their job well. We hold educators responsible for student achievement, but we do not support them with the latest technology the way we do professionals in other fields. The technology of everyday life has moved well beyond what educators regularly use to support student learning.

Not surprisingly, half of freshly minted teachers leave the profession within the first five years (Ingersoll & Smith, 2003), and policymakers and education leaders point to a lack of effective teaching and the need for greater accountability among teachers as the key to fixing education in America.

Although the expectation of effective teaching and accountability for professional educators is a critical component of transforming our education system, equally important is recognizing that we need to strengthen and elevate the teaching profession. This is necessary if we are to attract and retain the most effective educators and achieve the learning outcomes we seek. Just as leveraging technology can help us improve learning and assessment, technology can help us build the capacity of educators by enabling a shift to a model of connected teaching.

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