P21LogoHorizontalRGBtmThe following is a guest blog post from CEM partner Partnership for 21st Century Learning’s P21Blogazine

Driving Question: Why Is George Bernard Shaw All Wet?

We have all heard the disparaging idiom by George Bernard Shaw: “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”  At every Advanced Reasoning In Education Global PBL Academy, we are proud to pour a bucket of water over his head and prove him all-wrong.

Teachers Learning From Teachers

How do we do that?  First, learning from many years of experience readying new staff in our own school and improving our own work with PBL in the classroom, we discovered the absolute value of teachers learning from teachers.  As we work with educators around the country, we call on those who have proven by their own PBL classroom success that they can enable other teachers to change children’s lives.  Our facilitator’s teach students first and then, with what they have lived and learned in their own classrooms, they teach other teachers.

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Our facilitators have passed the test of classroom fire. Their advanced degrees are the degrees of well-honed experience. They are not academicians who have read about what they teach without ever having been teachers of children and adolescents. They are not asking others to do with PBL what they have not done well over and over themselves. Working with like-minded colleagues, they have honed their craft by taking on one of the most difficult challenges in any job, anywhere…readying students for college and careers in our fast-paced global economy. They teach what they have learned to do.

George: “You Are All Wet.”

Here is what we can tell George Bernard Shaw: “Our facilitators do. Our facilitators teach. As wise as you may have been on other matters, Today’s teaching is the doing of a very specialized job that requires a very special mindset. We want you to take note of what we do as we teachers teach our peers.”

  • We do implement Project-Based Learning in our own classrooms, and have each individually done so for almost a decade, well scrutinized for the quality of our teaching and our PD work.
  • We do author dozens of our own original projects, using the exact procedures we have developed for our training program.
  • We do thoughtfully hone and refine our craft by interacting with students in the authentic setting of our own classrooms.
  • We do receive international acclaim for our work, including in dozens of white papers and a visit from President Obama.
  • We do facilitate by teaching through 100% Project-Based Learning so our adult. learners can learn by doing, not by listening.
  • We do assess the quality of our own work and that of our students by examining what we and how they are doing their learning.
  • We do provide the support and assistance that is important for all novice PBL facilitators who are serious about refining their teacher leader craft and becoming facilitators for deeper learning.

100% PBL

Because we teach 100% PBL every day in every class, we do the same in our PBL training programs. 100% PBL, learned from doing, ensures all of our participants leave our academies knowing how to do. Our training is not just knowing about the research. It’s not just knowing the theory. It’s not just watching video of exemplar practices.  It’s doing PBL from project ideation to implementation and management, start to the finish of a PBL academy program. It is our journey with our adult students for three engaging and insightful days, a journey into learning that is deep, meaningful and lasting and led by practicing experts out of their own classrooms.

“We are here to teach. We are here to do”. That is our mantra. “George, we dare you to try it.”


About the Author

Steve Zipkes was the founding principal of the award winning Manor New Tech High School, a P21 Exemplar School.  Steve now manages the Advanced Reasoning in Education Global PBL Academy. (http://advancedreasoningined.com/, which offers school, district, and regional educator professional learning programs for PBL.  Steve is  regular contributor to the P21 Blogazine.

You can read added posts from the P21Blogazine on this site or by subscribing to its RSS Feed at www.p21.org for three times per week posts. Monthly themes connect  21st Century Deeper Learning  and the 4Cs theory and practice.

About Marshal Conley

Marshal Conley is a senior technical assistance consultant and Educational Technology and Innovation lead at the American Institutes for Research. His current work focuses on innovative, technology-infused solutions to improve educator professional learning. He is the Project Director for Connected Educator Month and serves in a leadership capacity on several other projects focused on educational technology for K-12 and adult learners.
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