Recently I was fortunate enough to work with a group of dedicated teachers in an up and coming MYP school in Mumbai, India. The experience of planning and delivering the workshop with those educators got me thinking about how “transfer” has benefited my life as Professional Educator. Here are some of my thoughts in chronological order (over the past 15 years):
1996: As a new teacher, I identified things teachers had done that had helped me learn in the past, and I tried to incorporate those type of things in my teaching practice. The opposite was also true—identified things that DIDN’T help me, and tried to avoid those practices.
2006: I identified things leaders did that inspired me, and I tried to do those type of things when I earned leadership roles. The opposite was also true…things that DIDN’T…
2004-2007: I read about multiple intelligences and differentiation…and I didn’t get it…and I read/talked/heard more about ways that people learn best. Then I realized that if I only incorporate the “things” (first two above) that worked for me, that I was probably isolating many of the students and colleagues I interacted with…unless they were just like me.
2007-present: I become more reflective with my teaching and leadership styles. I still avoided the things that DIDN’T work for me in the past, but I also attempted to included other strategies that might be useful to learners that are different then me.
What I realized during the process of thinking about how transfer has benefited me, is that to transfer knowledge and skills from one situation to another, I need to be knowledgeable and reflective. Those of us in IB Schools recognize these as two of the ten IB Learner Profile attributes ( side thought while posting: is the IB Learner Profile and example of #2 on my list?).
Through this process, I have decided to amend my “ My Top 5 for now” list…I still want to keep the Top 5, but I want to change it to “My Top 6 for now” list of ideas that teachers keep in mind when teaching for conceptual transfer.
1. Teachers access and activate prior knowledge.
2. Teachers use physical and mental models, and teach students how to use them.
3. Teachers make it explicit when “transfer” is happening to them personally.
4. Teachers make it explicit when “transfer” would be a benefit to students (related to #1, but #4 also implies leading students to see where what they are learning now… will become useful “prior knowledge” in the future).
5. Teachers must be aware of what students are learning, both vertically and horizontally (i.e. horizontally = same grade level…vertically = same discipline).
6. Teachers move out of their own comfort zone in regards to teaching strategies and assessment practices, and use a large range of strategies to reach different types of learners.
What would you add to the list?