Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Teacherpreneurship and Technopersonal Skills

Reading on in Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds I've come to an interesting section where the word "teacherpreneur" has been used.  This word, a combination of teacher and entrepreneur, describes teachers who take initiative and also maybe take risks:  teacherpreneurs are defined as those teachers who are focused on making profitable learning experiences for students through collaboration with other classrooms.  Here is a quote that I find extremely important:
The greatest educational opportunities are not necessarily happening where the most money is being spent, but where the best teacherpreneurs are attracted and empowered.  A successful teacherpreneur makes rich learning experiences for his or her students through innovation and customization .... the most successful teacherpreneurs can be those who sometimes "rock the boat" as they innovate and move ahead.
Let's think about these words.  It's not the money that is important, it's the attitude of the leadership of a school who will attract, employ, support and empower the teachers who want to redefine learning.  The leadership needs to allow teachers to take risks, to reach out and collaborate with colleagues around the world, to reflect critically on what they are doing, to rock the boat in order to make changes for the good of the students' education. Many schools don't want to do this - they simply want teachers who will follow the book, not teacherpreneurs who will rewrite the book.  Teacherpreneurs who lack autonomy, trust and respect will be unhappy in "lose-lose" situations that don't meet their high standards and expectations.  Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis point out that "teachers are accountable for what they are doing in the classroom.  Accountability without authority is a recipe for teacher classroom dysfunction."

Schools who actively seek to employ and encourage teacherpreneurs are very different places culturally, from schools that do not support them.  Not surprisingly, the schools that are employing teacherpreneurs, who are usually very active on teacher collaborative networks and social media sites, are the schools that everyone has heard about on the international circuit - the school's reputation is enhanced by all the innovative things that these teachers are doing which reflects well on the school makes it an attractive place for teachers who are looking for new challenges.  I know of some school leaders who never have to spend a lot of time out of school going to multiple recruitment fairs, because the good teachers simply approach them (and of course because these school leaders are active on the social networks themselves, they already know of these teachers).  Of course I know of other school leaders who seem to spend months every year flying all over the place to numerous recruitment fairs trying to find teachers for their schools.  Although you would think that the time that was spent on recruitment would pay dividends in the quality of teachers recruited, in mediocre schools this is often not the case as good teachers move on quickly from places that are not stimulating and supportive, and with a high turnover of staff the leadership team is constantly on the recruitment trail.

The second new word I've encountered in my reading is "technopersonal skills".  Since we now use technology to communicate, new literacies have to be developed through collaboration and networking.  I was interested to read that the words we use are only 7% of communication - face, voice and body language are the rest.  Students who only know how to type and spell-check are operating at 7% capacity in online communication - the context of technopersonal communications also includes things like embedded multimedia. Technpersonal skills and media literacies allow people to communicate effectively using technology, and are an important life skills for students to develop.

Photo Credit: giulia.forsythe via Compfight cc

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